Little File, Big File? Article File, Year File?

A recurring job-o-mine is to write somewhere between seven and 10 short (1500-word) columns for a magazine each year, along with one or two 2500-word features.

This year I mean to move these over to Scrivener from Word, and wonder whether it’s more efficient/easier/understandable for an aging non-computer-wallah to treat each column as one Scivener file (how I do it now in Word: a working file littered with research notes and self-doubt, then export to a clean final for the last polish then submission), or to stuff a year’s worth of columns into one big Scrivener file?

In other words, I’m unsure if there are efficiencies or drawbacks to littering the working-file folder with lots of little yourfilenamehere.scrivs (as there are now with versus one big columns2007.scriv. Including in the head-scratching, of course, is the mega question about the efficiencies or drawbacks of having seven to 10 columns in one file, with all their different topics, not to mention unique bits of research and twaddling and throat-clearings and preconceived notions going all boom in the light of self-editing.

I await illumination.


I was a columnist in almost exactly your situation for about five years (same amount of self-doubt, half the word count). I would definitely put all the columns (and maybe other writing for the same magazine) in one Scrivener project. The Draft folder would have each column named by issue; outside the Draft folder would be a folder with scraps of ideas for future columns, research, etc.

I don’t know how you work, but I found it helpful when coming up with ideas for my next column to page through stuff I’d done already . . . if nothing else, it reminded me that I actually was capable of doing something useful with 750 words!

On the other hand, for feature pieces that require quite a bit of research (interview notes, Web pages, etc.) I’d probably lean toward having a separate Scrivener project. That’s what I’m doing now at any rate.


Ditto. This is exactly what I do. I have one file for all shorter works and separate files for large projects. It works well, at least so far!

Well, that is pretty much how I work–less to mine for further inspiration than to ensure I’m not plagiarizing myself, having reached that age where I need three trips to the root cellar to come out holding a potato.

I write in gel-pen on little 3x5 notebooks and index cards that go everywhere I go and then get assembled into Word outlines and then columns, or features, or books as the case may be. So Scrivener’s index-card metaphor is tailor-made for enabling my antique working methods.

If only Keith could conspire with Apple to produce a keyboard with a large chrome bar for a carriage return, and a satisfying Underwood kerchunk.

One big Scrivener year-file for columns twill be.

You are not the only one with these thoughts! This person turned a Olivetti Lettera 22 into a machine capable of sending email.


I’m wonderstruck. How did you ever encounter this site?

I happen to be a huge admirer of the 1950-70s Olivetti typewriter designs. They were the Apple laptops of the day; but with an Italian flair. The Lettera 22, in particular, was a work of art.

I have a 35i, which is a good deal less impressive, and more a product of the 80s “design” ethics. It’s a nice portable. Relatively light, and types as sturdy as a desktop, with nearly as many features as an SM-9, but nothing beats that 22 for sleek, sexy ink on paper action.

Since I do not have one, I browse the 'net for deals now and then. Some day I’ll get my hands on one. I stumbled across this project years ago when it was still in the early design process.

Agree completely about the magnificence of the Olivetti – a brand that will figure prominently in my life’s colophon. I remember an old promotional photo of Francis Coppola sitting in the Philippines, banging out the script to Apocalypse Now on his portable Olivetti – man, I really wanted to be that guy. Technology addict that I am, though, I’m making due with a Mac and the font from (they call it Oliver, but whatevs.)

They have a few lettera 22 on right now, should you be interested.

With short stories, up to 3000 characters, what benefits do you see from using Scrivener at all?

I’m not trolling, I just found Scrivener and it seems like a great app. But as a journalist mainly writing shorter news articles, I’m not sure if it will bring any benefits to my work.


I’ve been burned on typewriters from ebay before. A lot of people just have them sitting around, and do not really know if the thing is fully operational or not. They don’t know where to check for rust, broken springs, dried out platens, and such. While more expensive, a refurbisher like Mr. Typewriter is much, much safer.

I did once get a nice one. A nearly mint first run Underwood portable, one of the ones with three rows of keys and two shifting mechanisms. It did have a weak carriage advance chord though; they made them out of cloth back then, so it is no surprise. It is nearly 90 years old now. Everything else was flawless.

Thoresson, it really depends on your work habits, with short stories and articles. I’d say, with a thirty day trial, you have plenty of time to figure out if it is going to be the right application for you. If it does not work out, you can always export all of your work.