So... how do the rest of you manage?

So, here’s the seemingly unanswerable question, that seems to plague all and sundry…

I too, have stumbled across Scrivener, and it IS the preferred writing medium for me. I have tried and bought a whole lot of others, but I seem to have settled down nicely with this program.

I have a damn fine set up here in my small studio, all the gadgets, bells and whistles. I still seem to gravitate towards pen and paper, in all facets of my writing (novel).

I try hard to keep order about my paperwork, voice recordings, and data entry, almost to the point of being anal, and all I end up doing is just sorting…

Is this game really an untidy mix and match of all media?

I have cork boards (real ones) on my walls…
I have a damn fine computer set-up…
I have good internet connection…
I have a very large music selection (thanks to iTunes)…
I have all of the stationery gadgets and toys…
I have a whole lot of ideas…

I am finding that there is no real formulae to work within, it seems that one has to work in all arenas of recording, note taking and writing.

Aside from the mechanics of the Scrivener program, would some of you guys like to share some of the more down to earth facets of your craft? Eg… field trips, photos, video, interviews… etc?

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the enormity of my project, and I sometimes wish I had taken a degree at Uni, say a BA, which would of at least allowed me to learn how to structure a good research-writing regime.

Anyone care to share?


Lone Wolf

For me, I can truthfully say that equipment, gadgetry etc are nothing more than desperate attempts at procrastination. The only thing I actually need to write is…

… a deadline.

With a deadline, I am busy and productive, and could probably produce the goods with any old equipment that comes to hand. Without a deadline, not an awful lot happens, however well equipped I am, although I am quite good at giving the impression that something is happening.

This is all very well for non-fiction, for which I have always had a commission or delivery contract of some description. But it is rubbish for fiction writing, where my only deadlines are self-imposed ones. And for me, self-imposed = self-disposed.

As far as organisation goes, I am all in favour of a Big Pile for papers, books and other stuff that isn’t on my computer. If it is on my computer, I create a catch-all folder for each writing project in my Work In Progress folder, and bung everything related to a project into it. Now that I use Scrivener for everything (and I mean everything - no notebooks, no corkboards, no index cards, no backs of envelopes), a lot of stuff lives happily in sub-folders in the Research folder for a piece of work.

Everything is sort of loosely indexed in my head, and when I want to use a particular bit of research info, I just go and dig out the original copy to check my facts. For me, this is quick and simple, since I always know roughly where things are. On the other hand, on the occasions I have tried to set up a proper research collection system, it has proved time-consuming and distracting, and the resultant systems have proved less than reliable in terms of rapid information retrieval. Keeping it simple works for me; I have been forced to admit that my attempts to come up with more elegant solutions have been nothing more than procrastination.

This system works for me because I read everything before I “file” it; if I just collected likely-looking material without initially processing it and pigeon-holing it in my head, then I would have to develop a much more structured retrieval system. But I would also have to develop a different way of thinking about and planning my work. Each to his own, I think - just do whatever works for you, however clumsy it may seem to others.

I agree that a BA does help you in organizing a piece of research, however the ability of writing a well thought through and structured piece is easier to achieve than a BA. In regard to writing the BA is just a certificate that you successfully practiced that writing style so and so many times.

Anyway, I can recommend ‘Good Essay Writing’ by Peter Redman which covers roughly everything you need to know to write structured and analytical.

Heres a review link I found: … ew_5416082

This book has helped me to achieve good marks with scientific papers at uni. It is very beginner friendly and takes you step by step to GTD.

My piece of advice is, leave you hight tech office and go for a walk. Best in the forest if you have one close by.
Don’t think (!) , it will come to you eventually. When it does, let it flow and don’t voice record straight away. Let the thought mature before recording.

Fresh air and silence is the key my friend.


It’s not clear to me from what you’ve written above whether the project you’re tackling is your novel or something else. However, if it’s the novel, there are two books (and possibly only two books) you should read: On Writing by Stephen King, and Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers.

If it’s research for your novel that you’re finding daunting, the best advice I’ve read (maybe in King) was to do only limited research to begin with. Hold back the main research until you’re done with plotting; then you’ll know much better what it is you need to discover.


I totally agree on the deadline-thing. If you don’t get a deadline from your publisher, get a good friend to set one for you. Tell him/her to be really nasty to you. Allow no excuses. Think about punishments for not meeting the deadline. Turn it into a game, but keep the pressure high. I use a countdown like this one: … idget.html

to visualise the pressure. When the deadline hits, deliver something. If it’s bad, you can rewrite the whole thing. But then you’re into it.

Well, that’s how it works for me. Good luck!

I did some research for my book, Honest John, which I have mainly ignored. photos have helped just as much as texts. some of the most useful photos I stumbled across, without meaning to do so.

as a ritual, I listen to a band called Current 93 or sometimes traditional English folk music. I went to the library to get a CD collection of old sea shanties and ballads (Honest John takes place in an old fishing village) and found it not helpful. other times I have gotten in a writing groove and just typed away without paying attention to the music on the radio.

for a while I gave myself some chocolate or some hot fake cofee (I don’t drink the real kind) as a reward. which reminds, would love to make myself up some chai right now.

short answer, though: listening to Current 93!

Blimey, there’s a blast from the past. Are they still going?

Actually, this is where Scrivener can be a tremendous help, because it makes it easier to write little bits at a time without worrying about the big picture. (Was it Annie Lamott’s book that said something to the effect of taking it one bird at a time?) So: baby steps. Just write stuff you already know – a single scene here, a character description there, an expository passage. Don’t judge it, don’t worry about how it fits the big picture, whatever that is. Just write these little short bits until you can’t think of anything else to write. Then put 'em all in a Scriv. folder under the Draft heading. Don’t worry about whether it sounds good or complete; if you need to put in notes to yourself for later, use document notes or project notes, but don’t let anything stop you from just writing a few sentences with the understanding that they’ll probably eventually get rewritten or tossed, so no pressure.

Then go do some research, and organize it in files under the Research heading. The research should inspire more little tidbits.

At some point, your subconscious will start making connections among the scattered bits you’ve written. Then you can start expanding it and figuring out the architecture.

Granted, this advice is coming from a nonfiction writer, not a fellow novelist, but I’ve used this method to write a play in Scrivener, too. For any writer, the thing is to not get intimidated by the blank page/screen and the big picture, and just take it one scene or paragraph at a time, the stuff you already know or that comes easily, at least at the start.

We’re all different, though, so this may not work for you. Good luck!


Thank you to all so far.

I thought it was just me, being all bent out of shape with my research and notes…

Two items that have come up in the previous threads I will progressively adopt.

  1. Read ALL research before filing, instead of thinking that I will come back to it later.
  2. Keep my storyline tight, and research within the parameters of it. It is ALL to easy to spend hours and hours researching, and end up with all this superfluous information, which simply overwhelms me.

I will keep to my wide and varied methods of recording and note taking for now, but be more selective in the content, as against quantity.

One thing I haven’t mentioned in my previous post though…

I imagine myself as some sort of intrepid Indiana Jones sort of guy. I enjoy the sense of purpose, the fun, the travel, and the talk. This all of a sudden takes away the perceived boredom and loneliness of the craft.

My book is based mainly in Australia, and as an avid camper (that’s a person who like tents… not the other sort…), and four wheel driver, I have no trouble getting away to all of the exotic locations.

My brother and I both run a welding - sheet metal business, and we can each come and go as we both please. There is nothing like the adrenalin rush when I pack and go out on an assignment!

I like to talk about my pursuits, and I enjoy them immensely. If I’m not having fun, then why do it?

Thank you to all so far who have responded.

Lone Wolf


Dont let Juddbert, The Beast Of Bodmin Moor, find out you have anything to do with welding. You see, hes a weld fetishist. In future just say you`re a fabricator. The term is accurate for both sheet metal and words, is it not?


You’ve put me in a bit of a spot Vic, taking that tack. I’d expected you to get right to the root with a penetrating dissertation, but how am I supposed to cap that spatter ridden effort?


See what I mean Wolf.

The guy is either:

(a) One of the Chosen Few, a welder (or his boozing buddy is).

(b) Hes just an insufferable genius with words (mind you, theyre one and the same, aren`t they?).

Hes probably a welder. See how he knew to go for the jugular, with the ultimate insult, Spatter Ridden. Thats definitely the perspicacity of a welder at work.

Ill just have to stop baiting the Beast, Im sick of being bitten.

Vic :cry:

Just a solder of fortune Vic, and one plagued by dry joints at that. Thank goodness my OS X version is TIGer!




A deep breath, hold it, now breath out slowly. That`s better.

I`m getting really brazed off with this.

Cod-liver Oil Capsules for your dry joints. Sounds like your suffering from Hydrogen deficiency, brought on by using to many Low Hydrogen rods.

The difference between me and thee, Beast, is: youre out there Trail Brazing in the overtaking lane, whilst Im just a boring old MIGgle of the roader.

C`est la Vie

Was that an AAARRRGHHH as in AAARRRGHHHgon arc-boy?
(Just remember that you started all this drivel.)


Get thee hence Beast! Be gone!

I`m freeeeeee!

I find that if I just keep writing, things sort of fall into place.

However, that’s for fiction. In non-fiction, there’s the famous dictum:

Tell them what you are about to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.

Not sure how it might work in a long form…

When you get off track, just remember the story arc.