What is Scrivener... Really?

It is a tool of course, but to understand what it can be used for, we first need to understand what concept Scrivener is based on.

Is not based on the concept of a “project management tool” (PM), as used in business and construction, that has been restructured to help writers with their writing projects. PM is basically a sequential/time-line organizing tool which only has a minor place in writing. Yes it involves what you do and how you do it but the emphasis is on when and what sequence you do it in. In the case of writing and in most non-business task, the time line is usually “when you can” and the sequence is “whatever works to get the most done”.

That is not to say that Scrivener does not make a fantastic non-business task management tool–it does–and I have been using it extensively for that since a few days after I first tried it. It lets you set up categories of projects (folders), list the separate projects (documents) under the project category and tie together all your notes, references and web research on how to do it for that specific project. It’s easy to set up, easy to check to see what needs to be done as well as check out your references and even easier to maintain. To me, the ability to save information found while surfing the web, about how to do your project, just makes my day. Saving YouTube video links, article links, PDF books as well as notes I write about other things to research or do in folders named after the task’s document name under the Research section–can get you up to speed in minutes when you actually decide to do the project.

It is a perfect task manager for home projects where you usually just want to: not forget to do it, have the needed info assembled, etc. The famous “Honey do” list for instance. Home projects do not need a time-line manager, if time is important, you are usually working on the project right then–not defining a time-line of when each part needs to be done. Using Scrivener like this has also been discussed in the posts “To-do lists” and “Unorthodox or non-writing use” in the “The Zen of Scrivener - Usage Scenarios” forum if you want to read other ideas about doing this.

In my case one side effect of creating this “home task manager” was that it made it easier to write by getting rid of internal distractions. When I sit down to write I no longer worry that I am forgetting some important task that I should be doing and I can relax and totally get involved in creative writing.

Many claim that Scrivener is an organizer but “IT” is not an organizer–YOU are the organizer. It is a “correlating tool” that you can use to: “form into a whole an interrelated structure consisting of the interdependent, related and diverse parts of a task”. It’s a task manager/correlator that provides the structure to correlate and organize the various elements of a project of ANY kind that is not based around a daily hour to hour time-line.

Defining or labeling a concept or a tool like Scrivener, basically controls or limits what you think it can do in the same way your gut level definition of a problem defines/limits the solutions you can find. Thinking outside the box is not really about ways of thinking it is about re-labeling reality as you perceive it.

If you define or label Scrivener as a “writer’s organizing tool”, you are unknowingly restricting what you believe it can do. If you conceive of it like this, that will limit how you define the tasks you use it for. You will use it to structure and organize information as you perceive an author would do. If you Look at it as a correlator, i.e. something that structures, organizes or integrates many diverse elements in a harmonious operation in relationship to a goal–many more uses become obvious.

The more uses of Scrivener that are discovered, the more likely it is to grow in users and to profit from all the work that went into it. I would like to see it grow (and have a finished Linux version). So, just for fun, why don’t you post any other use you have found for Scrivener–from correlating your school work to help you study better to deciding/remembering what makeup goes with what clothes you have.

I am personally thinking about using it to help me create and maintain a high density home garden next year.

Keith