That’s what I call it when I am trying to get the range on a new project. Might be an essay, a poem, an article, or something longer— just about anything. I’m used to using a piece of paper and a sharp pencil, but I have recently discovered (I’m a new convert) that S. is a great tool for this early process. The index cards are excellent and the whole-page view is a good catalyst to ‘let it all hang out’ and just play with whatever comes to mind on that particular subject. The auto-save function is good peace of mind while you’re brainstorming as well. One useful add-on might be a quick and convenient way to add a basic diagram page to research. Not essential, but could be useful. Just a way to doodle shapes, some lines, some text. That’s where the paper comes in I guess. No problem. I got plenty of paper and lots of pencils.

If your Mac came with OminGraffle, that is a good app for quick diagramming.

To put a copy of a resulting diagram into scriv, you can export from OG to a variety of formats that the scriv Research folder understands (.pdf, .jpg., etc.)


Nope. No got.

Yes, I use Scrivener this way too.

I do brainstorming and idea generation in Scrivener, as well as early drafts.

Then I move everything in MS Word to pound in the details. (Yes, I know, heresy.)

I’ve always wanted to stay in S right to the final draft, but I find that S gives me too many tempting distractions when I just want to get down to it and write. Or it could be just that MS Word is my security blanket since I’ve been using it for so long.

Still an enthused Scrivener fan… :slight_smile:

On second and third thought I’ll stick with the pencil-mode. I tried a simple shape-and-text program and it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Also, the pencil and paper are there at your side while you’re dealing with the other features that S. offers for such doings. Sometimes the old ways are better.

This is exactly what a lot of people use mind-mapping for. Check out Mindnode, which is free.

10-4, cd, and thanks. But I’m using 10.4.

I’m a bit of a broken record on this point, but I think you’ve made the right choice. Nothing is as fast and intuitive as pen and paper when you’re brainstorming, and as wonderful as apps like OmniGraffle are, they’re still no substitute for actually drawing lines and circles and making notes in the margin and so on.

After trying a whole raft of mind-mapping programmes and the like, I returned to pen and paper a couple of years ago and haven’t regretted it once.

I still sit down with pen and paper occasionally, when it’s words I want to juggle. An old-fashioned conceit, I acknowledge, but there are times when I need to get hold of the words, not simply plop them on the page. (A hammer and chisel and a slab of wood might do even better, but I’ve already enough bruises on my hands.) The closer I get to the actual creation of the word, to producing its image in visible form, the more control I believe I have. It’s probably significant that this also is the slowest and hardest way to work. I remember a teacher who used to say, “Easy writing makes hard reading.” At last I understand what he meant.


That statement, usually quoted as “Easy reading is damn hard writing,” is often attributed to Hawthorne, Hemingway, and Angelou, among others. Their source may be Alexander Pope,

You write with ease, to show your breeding,
But easy writing’s curst hard reading


In all, it’s good advice for writers.