Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I’ve always been a fan of simple text editors when it comes to writing. Word processors have too many knobs. It is too tempting to get distracted by how something looks and spend your writing time messing around with how something looks instead of doing what you set out to do, write.

But as I get better and better at maintaining my focus on writing I find that there are other tools available to writers than just traditional word processors. These tools are designed to help writers manage the mass of words that they create and easily view them in different ways.

One such tool is a program called Scrivener. It is the Cadillac of such tools in many writers’ opinions. Among its features are support for outlining, a cork board view of the elements of a piece, a version management facility, and tools to help collect references and organize them outside of the main flow of the work in progress. There are many more features, so many that learning to use them effectively is overwhelming in its own right.

I got a copy of Scrivener for Christmas last year. I’ve used it off and on since then but as with many power tools it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I have a fast approaching deadline. I usually don’t want to spend a lot of time rediscovering how to do simple things with it. Until tonight.

Tonight I was reading my email and various articles that caught my attention in some of the newsletters to which I subscribe. One of the articles described a process for writing a novel by the seat of your pants using Scrivener.

The idea was to write lots of scenes of approximately five hundred words apiece. Each scene is stored in a scene element that has an associated synopsis card. As you collect more and more completed scenes you assemble them into a story using the cork board. When you have ideas for scenes, you create a synopsis card for it. When you sit down to write, you scan the cork board for unwritten scenes and choose one to work on next.

I can see how this would make writing something like a novel easier. Then as I thought about it some more I realized that it would be a good way to collect ideas for blog posts. It would help me tackle ideas that I wanted to spend time researching and polishing for maximum effect.

So here is the first attempt at teaching this old dog a new trick or two. I have high hopes for using it to take this blog to the next level. I may even achieve my long time goal of having several finished posts in the wings ready to publish on days when I am otherwise pressed for time.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.