Ways to make scrivener worth it?

Hi all - I’m doing a thirty day Scrivener trial to see if it will be a good organizing tool for me. I’ve only opened it twice, admittedly, but it isn’t striking me as the most user friendly and I’m just not sure why everyone sees it as so great. If it’s your processor of choice, why? What are you doing with it?

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu. It’s a good overview of how Scrivener works and what it can do.


A lot of Scrivener’s usefulness is driven by what you want it to do. If you write novels (as I do) or other long-form text that requires the ability to do research, remind yourself of points you want to make, or such, it’s unmatched (or at least I haven’t found the match).

Other writers swear by Ulysses, which I like too, but I tried it and returned to Scrivener.

But if you need something that stores zillions of factoids, pictures, clipping and the like, Scrivener would not be my No. 1 choice. For that I use Evernote, where I have the notes for six novels stored and have also been keeping personal receipts, general-interest clippings and other interesting tidbits. I have 40,000 notes in Evernote, and wouldn’t consider keeping even a tiny fraction of that in Scrivener. (There are a lot of alternates to Evernote but none of the ones I’ve looked at seemed to justify moving.)

So… is Scrivener worth it? To me, without a doubt.

As Katherine suggested, do the tutorial. That will help you process people’s feedback to you here.

I see Scrivener as a ‘generalist’ long form writing tool. What that means is, it’s not developed to specialize in any one particular area, and so is used by all sorts of writers to produce all sorts of writing: fiction, non-fiction, academic papers, screenplays, poems, legal briefs, etc.

If you tell us what type of writing you want to use it for, you’ll get more tailored feedback. It would also help if you share what other tools you’ve tried and why they were lacking.

For something like six years or so, I’ve been using Scrivener for short stories and novels. I immediately ‘got’ Scrivener, in that I found it extremely intuitive. That said, because it is feature-rich and flexible, it can be overwhelming at first glance. Hence the recommendation to do the Tutorial and learn your way around the tool.


Definitely do the tutorial as others have suggested - it makes it all a lot less overwhelming.

For reference: I don’t do long projects, which is what I think Scrivener is more built for, but I still use it every single time I write. What really makes it for me are two things: the binder and the index cards.

The binder lets me organize all my stories into folders (I use “To finish”, “Maybe finish”, “Finished”, and “Trunk” for when I want to forget about something’s existence but don’t wanna trash it) and keep every nice and neat and pretty while also having everything in one spot. I used Google Drive before this, and I had the same folder system, but I still had to open everything in Docs from Drive and if I wanted to start something new, I couldn’t instantly sort it - I had to go into Drive and sort it there, adding way more friction than needed. With Scrivener, I just press enter on the relevant “Maybe finish” folder and get to writing. No hassle.

The index cards I use to keep a lot of things. It’s so helpful to be able to see a bunch of little chunks of information all at once, in one spot. I use it for plotting, writing out scene/chapter summaries and dragging them around if I need to. I use it for character summaries, as well, and for keeping track of story ideas. I have a folder that’s just a bunch of ideas, so whenever I need something new to write, I can just look at my big corkboard of idea cards and not have to sort through a list.

The customization is also a huge plus, although it’s yet to be as good on Windows as it is on Mac! I also love the document notes feature and being able to keep track of notes without having to create entirely new documents. Being able to work without internet (but still with a ton of security since Scrivener’s saving/back-up system is fantastic) is also really good for me, since my WiFi likes to act up a lot.

There’s a lot to love. It’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent. It removes all the friction from my writing workflow!

That being said, it wasn’t instant. With programs like Scrivener that have so. many. features, there is an inevitable learning curve where you have to figure out how to make it work for you. I personally love programs like these, but not everyone likes that kind of friction; a lot of people really just want something that’s already set up for them, because the whole discovery and learning process can be a hassle or way too time consuming (although it didn’t take me long to figure it out, personally). If you’re looking to get everything out of Scrivener that you possibly can, you will have to spend some time with the program. Use up those 30 days!