As an old friend once counseled me, sometimes the universe is out of joint and it’s best to just shut the machine down, go home, and let someone else make dinner. He, by the way, meant it. When things weren’t going right, he’d shut down his systems and go home at 3pm. The next day he’d figure it out.
I suspect that you are trying to use some special function right away and this is what has thrown you. For example, you speak of outlining – but Outline Mode in scrivener does not probably work in the way you expect: it is not for outlining within a document at all. Rather, the line items in an outline in Scrivener are themselves documents. So, an outline in Scrivener is a skeletal (and hierarchical) view of all the documents in your Project. It reflects the same structure as you see in the Binder.
Anyway, if you want to say something more about what puzzles you, perhaps someone here can nudge you in the right direction.
Dave & Greg have given good advice, so I won’t repeat it.
I cannot imagine writing a long-form document outside of Scrivener any more. The ability to “see” the overall structure of a project in the binder is helpful, while being able to focus on the detail of the current document (for me, often just a few paragraphs or less) is super helpful.
Stick at it.
If you have particular queries, post them here and other users like us will be sure to provide some advice. If it’s more technical in nature, the crew from Literature & Latte also actively respond to questions raised here.
I have been using Scrivener for about 6 months I think. I am very experienced with software and Macs. But I have found Scrivener has quite a steep learning curve. Mostly because there are so many uses for it, and hence such a huge functionality. Sitting down to ‘read the manual’ which I do often with software, is not as enlightening and so much is not relevant to someone with one specific purpose in mind.
I am just ploughing ahead, trying to solve problems as I encounter them, and asking for help here - though I hate looking like I haven’t bothered ‘reading the manual’.
We certainly don’t expect you to read the manual, which is massive. The interactive tutorial is by far the best approach to getting the hang of Scrivener, and the 10-minute intro video is also useful. We continually strive to make Scrivener as easy to use as possible, but because of what it tries to achieve, there are some concepts that must be learned upon first using the software in order to make the most out of it. The main concepts required are: how the binder works, how text documents and folder documents are freely interchangeable, how to use the view modes, and how to use the split views. Once you’ve grasped these, you will know whether Scrivener is the tool for you - it certainly won’t suit everybody. But once you have these core concepts, if you can see the potential for them in your writing, all the other features are gravy, really, and can be looked up as you need them.
I think Scrivener can be overwhelming for people because there are so many ways to organize it.
But, I what I found revolutionary with Scrivener is that it truly is a non-linear Thought processor(I can write whatever part that I want to write and I am not tied to a particular structure).
Write the heading for your document/document section in the binder, then write your section it the writing area (can’t remember what it is called). Then move things around. Learn about the “scrivening” mode - select a bunch of articles/sections and they appear as one in your writing area. This is the heart of Scrivener. Get comfortable with this part - then start adding everything else when you need to.
The next best thing to learn is split views. That way you can have two different sections or reference materials and writing up at the same time. This encompasses 90 % of how I use Scrivener. You can go much deeper, but even with these few tools you can do a lot. I think the trick is not to get overwhelmed and to learn as much as you need to , to get a project done.
Create a new Scrivener project. I personally use the Blank template, but feel free to use a different one if you’d rather.
Create a new folder (Project -> New Folder). Call it Chapter One, call it “Bob’s Excellent Adventure,” Scrivener doesn’t care. Within that folder, create a new document (Project -> New Text) for Section One. Give it a title that makes sense to you – you can change it later. Repeat for the remaining scenes, then for the following Chapters, or until you get bored.
Now things get interesting. You can start writing if you like. Or, if you’d like to have a little more information than just the outline, you might want to create a synopsis explaining what’s in the subdocuments. So, click on Chapter One in the Binder, then on the corkboard icon in the toolbar. This will show you index cards for each of the sections you created before. Click on the card to enter a synopsis. Drag the cards to change the order. Right-click to create a new card. Double-click to open the document corresponding to a card and start writing.
Beyond that, there are many many things you can do, depending on how you work. But this much should get you over the hump and to the point of putting words on “paper.”