I can't get our writers to try Scrivener

So I’m not a writer per se, (graphic design and illustration pays the bills) but I bought Scrivener to help me organize the myriad of pieces that were being written for a tabletop RPG. It worked well beyond my expectations, so much so that I tried to get the writers I work with in my university communications dept. to try it out. I told them about some of the features and what I thought would be obvious benefits over Word (basically anything is better than Word, so …). But not a single one of them even tried it. I feel like pros use Scrivener and amateurs use Word, but no one bit. For the pro writers here what would be the killer features that I should tell them about to get them to try it? None of them like Word but they are used to it. I basically feel sorry for them. Any ideas on how to convince them to at least try it?

Why do you care what software they use?

How would you feel if one of them suddenly started pushing you to try new illustration software?

Lots of pros use Scrivener. So do lots of amateurs. Lots of amateurs use Word. So do lots of pros.

I don’t know these people, so I don’t know what suggestions will work. But I’m pretty sure that for you, a non-writer, to imply that you feel sorry for them and think they are amateurs because they aren’t interested in a tool that you prefer – but have never used in anything remotely like their application – is probably not going to be a successful approach.

A lot of what communications departments do is highly collaborative, with many different people needing to sign off on things before they are released. A lot of communications writing is also short form, and often highly structured: press releases with a rigid template, a lot of boiler plate text, and a set structure to follow. These are exactly the things that Word is very good at, and these are areas that are somewhat peripheral to Scrivener’s main focus.


In addition to the above it is notoriously difficult to get people to try new things in general. Especially when it comes to workflow. Learning new things = money loss, with potentially no ROI. Time is spent learning instead of working, and flows are disrupted as people try to figure out what works best for them and how to make what works best for them in a new program also work well for their coworkers. It took me quite some time to develop a workflow that actually worked for me in Scrivener. While some really like to explore new applications because it’s fun and adventurous, others may be frustrated because they’re used to knowing their software, so it leads to a lot of feeling stupid–we’ve all been there, and no one likes it.

In my opinion the most interesting thing about Scrivener, and also the more obvious to grasp for someone who knows nothing about the app, is the ability to juggle with documents, reorder, split, merge, whatever you want, instead of being stuck with a long clunky single document containing the whole of whichever project.

This is an amazing asset in the early stages of the creation process. Never would I want to do without.
(I write fiction novels. – If it matters.)

I get where you’re coming from, but I guess I’m trying to get them to try something else because of the constant complaining about Word. Of course I’m not telling them they are amateurs but I guess I get frustrated at how few people ever want to try anything new, especially when they are using such a small number of apps for their work. We are also making some fairly long documents with parts of it coming from multiple sources; stuff like grad school guides, long form magazine articles, and science papers. Things that have lots of reference materials; I thought Scriveners ability to hold all of the references in one place would be helpful. I’m working on a 350 pg. guide right now, that I guess was a real bear to organize to prep a text file suitable for layout. I’d agree with Tulle if more people actually knew how to use Word; I still get copy with spaces instead of tabs, soft returns everywhere, etc. For me I think Scrivener could have a wider user base beyond long-form writers if it was marketed a bit differently. But, I could be wrong of course.

Show them how you do what they do, without the pain. If that’s not convincing — they might be masochistic and there’s nothing you can do about it.

They likely have not been properly trained to use Word or it’s a good virtue to signal to complain about Word. From experience in “changing” work processes with new technology, this attitude will probably move over if you get some or all to use Scrivener. Human nature. I don’t know any great ways other than to provide incentive for self-motivation.

Do you have budget authority to arrange software training (in either Word or Scrivener)? Explaining how their usage of Word makes your job more difficult and offering a concrete solution might be a more effective approach.

FWIW, nothing in Scrivener prevents misuse of spaces, tabs, and soft returns.

(By the way, it’s quite possible that some of these writers are well aware of Scrivener and use it in their personal projects, but have decided that trying to turn this department into a Scrivener shop is not a good use of their energy.)

It is another instance of the X versus Y debate/flame-wars. People become wedded to what they use; they don’'t want to change. Another instance of the same debate — use Macs not Windows.

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Herer’s an economic scenario:
Obviously, efficiency is not management’s and/or the writing staff’s first priority. If the organization hires a lot of writers every year, then they are likely unwilling to train them. Yet they want to get the new employees to be productive rapidly. If they find that writers with Word experience are readily available vs Scrivener-skilled writers who are not, then the management may adapt their internal processes to match the availability of skills in their local labor market. I have seen this pattern in Silicon Valley in a variety of high tech job categories.