journal and timeline?

Hi - I’m a newbie, and really liking Scrivener so far. :slight_smile: After looking around at the various creative writing software programs, Scrivener seemed the best to me. However, writerscafe was a close second due to two features Scrivener doesn’t seem to have (please correct me if I’m wrong!) The first was an onboard journal; you just click on the “journal” button, and a dated page opens that lets you enter plain text. Though I tend to write out a journal by hand, I have to admit I’d do it more often if I could do it as a warm-up to my creative writing, without opening a new file or switching programs. Having a journal page like this would also encourage one to brainstorm about one’s writing, while one could use the pen and paper journal for venting on other subjects! Not an essential feature by any means, but it was nice.

A more essential feature was the timeline. This was writerscafe’s equivalent to the corkboard; when you clicked on it, you could see the timelines for each main character, with the principal events in their stories. Though I found this much too rigid a use for the corkboard - I prefer Scrivener’s flexibility - I do like the concept of a timeline, and of being able to see at a glance how characters’ paths intersect. Can you also do this with Scrivener, and, if not, would it be possible to develop a feature like this?



Thanks for trying out Scrivener. Please search the forum for “timeline” to see the number of posts about this - it’s come up a lot and so you should be able to find a detailed reply from me on this topic (basically along of the lines of, maybe in the future, but not soon, as unlike WC, in Scrivener it would have to integrate with all of the other features). Developing a timeline would be extremely non-trivial and a lot of work.

As for a journal page… Scrivener really isn’t intended for that sort of thing. But you can easily create a new document and enter the current date at the top by hitting opt-cmd-shift-D (Edit > Insert > Current Date & Time).

All the best,

Another way to keep a journal with dated entries would be to just use the inline note feature. Create a new document somewhere to your liking, call it Journal. Then click in the text edit area where you would normally type, and press Cmd-L. A linked date-stamp will be inserted into this page. Click on the link to follow it and proceed to type in your entry. When you wish to enter a new daily page, just go back to the Journal document, make a new line, and press Cmd-L again. You could even format these in a list, if you liked.

Note: If you have Automatically open newly created Scrivener Links in alternate editor checked in Preferences>Navigation, you’ll find that your daily entry page will pop up in a split for you. Otherwise, everything else, above, applies.

Thanks for the responses - I hadn’t realized an integrated timeline would be so difficult to implement, but then, I’m not a programmer. As far as the journal goes, I should be able to figure something out using the tips you’ve given me - if not, as I said, it’s not essential. It’s just nice to be able to keep everything in one place and organized, and that’s something Scrivener seems to do really well. I’m now going to try copying and pasting my journal entries from writerscafe into a new project called journal. I’ll let you know how it goes - :slight_smile:

Scrivener can handle this okay, but I like to keep it strictly segregated to ‘just for the stories, and their related bits’. For journaling, I use Journler - - which is currently free but about to go shareware.

The two applications have similarities, but where Scrivener excels at helping to grow a whole bunch of bits and pieces into a story, Journler excels at leaving these bits of pieces as…bits and pieces. Just what a journal is good for, a whole host of personal, not necessarily related information dumped into one place. The best part is it’s great (with its lexicon, and smart folders) for finding brain threads over time.

Often things that have been complete throwaway entries into Journler turn into something I’d like to work on as a story. At that point, I simply drag all the bits I need into a Scrivener project, and - wham bam thank you ma’am - I have the seed to start outlining and growing an actual story.

This is the heart about what makes me jiggle with joy over OS X. Two apps, on the surface so similar, can both serve as seamless but individual parts of a natural workflow.

That sounds really good, Marcus - I will take a look. In the meantime, keeping the journal in another project folder seems to be working well - just as well as the journal page in writerscafe.

Thanks, everyone. :slight_smile:

Hi, everyone. I was reading this topic and got excited over Journler. I followed the link and was about to download when I saw the little notation “for OS X Tiger only.”

I sure hope they tweak it for Leopard also.

Go to the Journler forums and download the latest beta (which you should do on Tiger anyway). It is in the release candidate stage and quite stable, has a lot of new features—and I’ve been running it on Leopard for months with no problems.

Ironically, I am just in the process of starting a journal, so this thread is very timely. As part of the process, I looked (again) at MacJournal and Journler, but in the end I decided to just stick with Scrivener, and create a separate project called “Journal.”

My thinking is thus: Sure, Journler and MacJournal are both fine apps, but what do they really have that Scrivener doesn’t? Okay, automatic timestamping and a calendar in one corner. Are those worth $35 or more to buy a separate app? Especially since, if I ever decide to do anything with those journal entries, I’ll end up pulling them into Scrivener anyway?

Not only do MacJournal and Journler not bring much to the party (okay, Journler’s keyword list is very powerful, but not worth the inane single-file limitation), but Scrivener has a lot of nifty features I would really want to have in a journal. Like the ability to annotate the journal later, both in-line and with the “notes” feature. Like the synopsis. Or the biggie, the “edit scrivenings” view that let’s me read the document as a flowing whole.

All-in-all, a separate journal app just seems hard to justify. I’m already using Scrivener for a lot of functions beyond the original “write a novel” model, why not continue the trend?

I’ve been a long-time user of viJournal and it ‘just fits’ with what I want out of a journal program. It went through a bit of a dry time when it didn’t get updated as a UB during which time I tried both Journler and MacJournal (going so far as to buy MacJournal during a MacUpdate promo), but as soon as the UB version came out I switched back to it in a heart-beat. And yes, I tried using Scrivener as a journal program, but it didn’t suit me for that purpose (although for my main writing project Scrivener fits like a well-worn glove).

EDIT: I’ve also found the developer of viJournal (published author Jeremy Dronfield) to be highly responsive - I once asked about the possibility of adding full-screen writing and he added it within a matter of days (this is a good few years ago).

Okay, you clearly see something in this app that adds enough value that you’re willing to use a specialized app for this task. Can you articulate what it is about it that you like so much? I’m not hostile to the idea of using another app, I just haven’t seen the value so far – educate me, please!

Journler was one of the first apps I discovered after I jettisoned the Winmachine and bought an iMac. At first, I tried using it every day, or at least every now and then, as an “I gotta write something timely and fresh and clever today” repository. Lacunae abounded, multiplied. Then I noticed the drop box option: a small desk-top icon into which you can dump bits and pieces for later filing. Now, instead of trying to write specifically for the journal, I get about the business of writing and, when I accidentally whip off a particularly fine or fancy bit of prose, I copy and dump it into the drop box.

Of course, fine and fancy prose being random and infrequent, the lacunae have not disappeared.

(Hmm. Can something which is, in literal truth, a negative, actually disappear? Isn’t it the point that nothing is there? How can “nothing” disappear?)

Clearly, I need another cup of coffee.

This post will not go into the drop box. (I mistyped “droop” back there.)


Okay, I have tried using Scrivener as a journal… and I like the idea… but how do you export the journal as a proper series of WEBPAGES that you can put on your website? Possibly even getting the images to export as well. Right now all I get is ONE HTML page, with no links, and question marks for images and files. This hardly works as an online internet journal. (And yes, I know Scrivener was never meant to be a journal… but with all this talk on journals, I thought I’d give it a try!)

And if Scrivener can’t work as an online journal… what is the recommended BEST journal app for making a blog/journal webpage, with pics, dates, etc? (I know there are several, and best is subjective… but help me out with some good ideas.)

If it’s free, or already included with Scrivener, I’m happy with the basics… if I gotta pay for another app, then I’d like the fanciest, yet easiest to use journaling app.


Sorry its taken me a while to get back to you on this, I missed your question earlier.
Some reasons I prefer to use viJournal as a specialist journal program rather than just using Scrivener are:
password protection
encryption of my data
one button click to create a new entry for today with today’s date as the header
a small pop-up calendar which shows you which dates you have journal entries for - clicking on the date takes you to that entry
a customisable title page which lets you store your favourite writing quotes or anything else you want to have there for when you first start up
There are probably others as well. For me there are two big kickers between viJournal and all the other journal programs I’ve tried: ‘New entry for today’ (from file or button in toolbar) and IMHO it has by far the best full-screen mode of any journal program I’ve tried.

Since we’re talking journals (this should maybe be in the Software By Other Folks section?), I think there is no greater combination of writer apps than Scrivener and VoodooPad.

VoodooPad is light, flexible, web-friendly, highly Mac-y, and chock full of wiki goodness. I made a main index page that lists entries by date (or sometimes titles, like “Movies That Make Me Happy - Ongoing”). I just like how small and simple it is, and how complex it can be if I so desire.

Frankly (to tie it in to another topic in Wish List), I’ve thought of using it as a crude corkboard – opening a number of new VoodooPad pages, making them small and floating them around on my screen. VP remembers my workspace every time, so I think this might work. I love the idea of “notecards” that look small and simple, but have nearly infinite complexity under the surface. If I want to go down the rabbit hole on a small topic, I could.

Haven’t tried it this way though. Like I said, thinking about it.

For me the main reason I use Journler over Scrivener for daily journaling is Journler’s lexicon - which is a really nice way to follow thought threads by common themes. It’s a bit like a smart-folder or search, except you don’t enter the term - the lexicon holds a list of all the words you’ve used (excluding common grammatical lego-bricks, of course), and you can click through them to find all the times you’ve written an entry with those words.

It’s particularly useful when you get interested in something for a while, then 12 months later forget about it entirely. Then when you’re stuck for ideas, you trawl through the lexicon and go ‘oh hey, I totally forgot I was meaning to write an article about Umberto Eco’s odd fascination with 12th century slugs…’.

That, and the ‘many hats’ thing works for me. I prefer to use lots of tiny apps for different purposes. When see Journler’s icon, I’m just putzing, defacing paper - unstructured writing. When I’m see the Scrivener toolbar, I know I’m doing some serious writing or working on a project. When I see Ecto I’m writing my blog, etc etc. XCode or Eclipse means work. So on.

(BTW Journler is a great journalling app but it’s not so great for writing blogs. It will integrate with Ecto or MarsEdit, though, so you can export.)

This is interesting, as my original plan was “VoodooPad (Pro) for data, Scrivener for writing,” but I found VoodooPad’s limitations were driving me nuts.