43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

NYT Magazine covers Scrivener, other OS X writing apps

An Interface of One’s Own

I was delighted to see my favorite OS X writing app, Scrivener, turn up in today's "The Medium" column of the New York Times Magazine. I reviewed Scrivener about a year ago, and still use it whenever I have to research, plan, and draft anything more complicated than a blog post. In fact, as luck would have it, I was actually working on my upcoming Macworld talk in Scrivener when I took a break to read the paper and saw this article. Kismet or something.

Columnist, Virginia Heffernan, notes the app's beloved full-screen capability:

To create art, you need peace and quiet. Not only does Scrivener save like a maniac so you needn’t bother, you also get to drop the curtain on life’s prosaic demands with a feature that makes its users swoon: full screen. When you’re working on a Scrivener opus, you’re not surrounded by teetering stacks of Firefox windows showing old Google searches or Citibank reports of suspicious activity. Life’s daily cares slip into the shadows. What emerges instead is one pristine and welcoming scroll: Your clean and focused mind.

High fives to other great apps mentioned in the article, including Ulysses, WriteRoom, and Nisus Writer. Slightly lower fives go to Microsoft Word, which, once again, takes its usual drubbing as The Application Everyone Wants To Get Away From™. Poor Microsoft Word, the mascara-smeared Gloria Swanson of word processors.

In the year since I wrote my own review of Scrivener, I still find myself relying heavily on it for housing the research, braindumps, and very early draft shapes of most longer pieces I do. Falling somewhere between OmniOutliner, DevonTHINK, and the aforementioned WriteRoom, Scrivener is still, in my opinion, the go-to app for all-in-one research and writing.

As ever, YMMV. This app is absolutely not for everyone (especially if you don't have the need for lots of complicated research and organizational hooks), but if you struggle to find a writing environment that maps to the way your own writing brain operates, I still highly recommend checking out the free Scrivener download.

Jottce's picture

Scrivener--Excellent for academic writing


contrary to your assessment, Scrivener absolutely excels at academic writing for me. I am an academic writer and switching to Scrivener just saved my current book project, or at least cranked up my productivity on the project to a point where I can actually finish it in time. I love the way Footnotes and comments show up in-line in Scrivener. I used to rely heavily on styles, but have found that I spent much more time worrying about formating in the drafting stages that way, time that would have been much better spent doing the actual writing. I use four custom styles in Scrivener now and they are enough for my book--which of course relies heavily on footnotes as well. Formating is the least of my concerns. I can pay someone to do the formating if I'm in a pinch--but the writing I have to do myself. And Scrivener excels at that as no other program I have tried does. Contrary to popular belief, academic writing IS creative writing, just creative in a slightly different way than a novel or a short story would be.

But, as with all creative tools, Scrivener is not for everyone and does not need to be. It just hits the sweet spot for a lot of creative writers— journalistic, fictional or academic. And we tend to be quite passionate about it too. :-)

Just my 2 ¢ (Euro).


UPDATE: I should have clarified that relying on styles and fiddling with formats is not necessarily causally linked. Just the programs that do have full support for styles (such as Word or Pages) encouraged me to do such fiddling. I intend to use Multimarkdown in Scrivener for my next project.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »