Join my newsletter for freebies and info on upcoming books, classes, appearances, and discounts.Join Now!
banner image

Scrivener posts for NaNoWriMo

illustration of man at computer desk wearing headphonesIf you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year, good luck!

I’m mired in revisions and Scrivener course planning, so I’m skipping this year, but here are a few posts on Scrivener’s best features to help you reach 1667 words per day.

Scrivener and NaNoWriMo for the win

Get unleashed for NaNoWriMo with Scrivener for iOS

If you need more Scrivener help, I have over 60 blog posts on the subject.

You also might try dictating your words, and see what happens.

Happy November!

Get unleashed for NaNoWriMo with Scrivener for iOS

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Whether you’re stuck with a desktop computer, or don’t want to lug your laptop around, Scrivener for iOS can set you free. Since I expect many of you will be using it to lay down words for NaNoWriMo this year, here’s how to use my favorite features for NaNo (as covered in last week’s post for Mac and Windows) in Scrivener for iOS.

Before you start using the iOS version, I highly recommend you read—or at least skim—through the Tutorial. It will help you immensely, especially the parts about Working with Projects, Syncing, and The Main Interface. Okay, all of it, really. 😉

A few things to keep in mind about the iOS version.

  • If you return to the Projects list, you are closing the project you were working in.
  • Unlike the Mac and Windows versions, you can only have one project open at a time.
  • If you plan to work on both iOS and a Mac or PC, you need a Dropbox account (if you use this referral link, we both get an extra 500MB of storage) and must install Dropbox on all the computers/devices you plan to use with Scrivener. Then, move any laptop/desktop projects you want to work on into the correct Dropbox folder before you begin.
  • If necessary, sync your projects before you start writing.
  • Remember that when you finish working on a project on your iOS device, you must tap the sync button on the Projects page (see below) before trying to open the project on another computer. Likewise, ensure that a project on your desktop/laptop has synced to Dropbox before trying to open it on your iPad or iPhone.
  • If you don’t have Internet access, syncing won’t happen!

Sync button

Put New Ideas in Their Place

I recommend creating an Ideas document to store thoughts you have about future scenes, and a Change Log to keep track of changes you want to make to existing scenes. Both of these can ensure you don’t lose any fabulous ideas, while staying on track with your writing.

To create a new document outside of the Draft folder, do the following:

  1. Navigate to the high-level view of your project’s Binder (the header at the top of the Binder should display your project name, not the name of a folder).
  2. Tap the + button at the bottom of the Binder, give the file a name, and tap Add. The new document appears at the bottom of the Binder (see image below).create new document
  3. Tap the Edit button at the top of the Binder (see above).
  4. Drag (tap and hold, then drag) the file to the desired location within the Binder, as shown below. moving documents
  5. When done moving files, tap Done. new docs in binder

Make a Note and Move On

Don’t let yourself get stuck or distracted when you can’t think of the perfect analogy, or know you need to do more research. The iOS version allows you to use annotations or comments to make notes for yourself so you can get back to writing. Here’s how.

  1. Tap the comment bubble button in the predictive text row (shown below) to get a submenu of options and choose Add Comment or Inline Annotation.getting annotations and comments NOTE: For comments, your cursor must be next to text for the option to be available. Also, you can tap the comment bubble button in the extended keyboard (the row of buttons above the predictive text row) for quicker access to comments, but you may have to swipe left or right to see it.
  2. Type your annotation or comment.annotation ioscomment
  3. For annotations, repeat step 1 to turn off and return to standard text.
  4. To view a comment, double tap the highlighted word. view comment

Block Out Distractions

The iOS version doesn’t have the same full screen/composition mode that the Mac and Windows versions have, but you can hide the Binder and work only with your text.

  1. Tap the Full Screen button at the top of the Editor. full screen button
  2. To view the Binder again, tap the name of your project in the upper left corner. return to binder view

Headphones are optional.

Pre-Plot, or Don’t

Plotters: Create your scene documents beforehand either in the Binder or the Corkboard. If you like to plot using index cards, then do the following.

  1. Select the Draft (aka Manuscript) folder.
  2. Tap the + in the upper right corner to create a new card. Title it, add a brief synopsis of the scene, if desired. creating new cards/documents
  3. Tap Add.
  4. Repeat as needed.

Once you have all of your scene documents created it’s merely a matter of filling them with words starting November 1.

Pantsers: Show up on day one, select the Draft folder, create a blank document and start writing. Repeat.

Grouping Documents into Chapter Folders

Here’s how to group documents into chapter folders.

  1. In the Binder, tap the Edit button at the top. The button changes to Done.
  2. Tap the circles to the left of the desired documents to select them. grouping documents
  3. Tap the Move button at the bottom of the Binder (see above) and choose Move into New Folder.
  4. Tap Done at the top of the Binder to exit Edit mode.
  5. Tap and hold the New Folder to get the Inspector so you can rename it, then tap Done.

Keep Research Handy

Though importing is generally best done while on your Mac or PC, you can import files in the iOS version. This works for both research and text with the same rules as Scrivener for Mac and Windows (no images, PDFs, or other non text-type files in the Draft folder).

  1. Select the desired folder (outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder) and tap the Import button at the bottom of the Binder. importing files
  2. Choose the source for your imported file—yes, you can even choose Camera and take a picture of something!—and select the desired file. imported file

Track Your Progress

Your goal is 50,000 words. Scrivener makes it easy to track your progress, even in iOS. Maybe even easier. As with the original, you can set a target for the entire manuscript, as well as one for each writing session.

  1. Choose a text document.
  2. Tap the word count at the bottom of the screen. NOTE: If you’ve tapped inside the document and entered edit mode, the word count will be at the top of the screen. project targets window
  3. Tap the word Draft to set a manuscript target and use the spinner to select your goal.
  4. Tap Targets to return to the main Project Targets window.
  5. Tap Session to set a session target.
  6. Tap Start New Session to reset the Session word count (your progress) to zero. project targets with goals

Have Fun!

Whether you’re using Scrivener for iOS for NaNoWriMo, or just to be untethered from your computer, have fun with it and enjoy your newfound freedom!

For more help with Scrivener, sign up for an online class, check out Scrivener For Dummies, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.


Like this article?

tea mug and chocolate barIt takes a lot of mint green tea and dark chocolate to fuel these posts. If you found something helpful, please consider a small donation to my pantry. Thank you!

$

(enter desired amount)

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Donation Total: $3

Scrivener and NaNoWriMo for the win

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Are you ready to NaNo? If you’re not familiar with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it’s a writing challenge where people from all over the world try to write at least 50,000 words toward a novel in one month. Specifically, the 30-day, family-commitment-laden (in the U.S. anyway) month of November.

NaNoWriMo is about quantity over quality. If you’ve ever wanted to kick the internal editor off your shoulder and try your hand at one of those “shitty first drafts” Anne Lamott is so fond of, now’s your chance.

If you’re up for the challenge, you only have a couple of weeks to prepare. So if you’re planning to write in Scrivener, now’s the time to make sure you have the tools and strategies that will help you make the most of your writing time.

Getting down 1667 words a day requires some serious focus. You won’t have time to stop writing for anything, especially not to edit or do research.

Here’s how to stay on track.

Download the NaNoWriMo Template or Trial Version

Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings, including an obfuscated format that turns your words to gibberish without changing the final word count.

For those who are new to Scrivener, the awesome folks at Literature & Latte have put out their annual NaNoWriMo version of the Scrivener free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. Take the next two weeks to go through the tutorial and get comfortable. At the very least, you need to know how to create a document and start typing.

If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount (for participants) at the end of November before you buy.

Put New Ideas in Their Place

Ideas are wonderful and necessary, but they can also be a distraction. What you need is a place to put them so you can get back to the scene you’re currently working on.

Consider creating two documents outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder (so they won’t count toward your 50K) before you start:

  1. A place to jot down concepts that come to you for future scenes. When an idea hits, you can make a note of it and get back to work. Mine is cleverly named Ideas.
  2. A log to keep track of changes you want to make to scenes you’ve already written. Don’t stop forward progress to make the revisions—that’s what December is for—just make a note of your proposed changes in the log and keep writing as if you already did. In another dazzling display of brilliance, mine is named Change Log.

Make a Note and Move On

Next time you get stuck trying to figure out your heroine’s witty comeback, the ideal name for the landlord’s vicious dog, or the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, create an annotation (Format—>Inline Annotation) or a comment (Format—> Comment) to make a note of it and keep writing.

Later you can use Edit—>Find—>Find By Formatting to search for annotations and comments when you’re ready to work on them. You know, in December.

annotations

Block Out Distractions

Free yourself from distractions with Full Screen/Composition mode. Called Full Screen in Windows and Composition mode on the Mac (to avoid confusion with Mac’s full screen option), this feature blocks out everything but your blank page so you can just write.

Consider adding a custom background color or image to keep you in the right frame of mind.

Add a pair of headphones or earbuds—with or without music—and you’re ready to rock.

full screen/composition mode

Pre-Plot, or Don’t

If you’re a plotter, consider creating your scene documents beforehand either in the Binder or the Corkboard. If you like to plot using index cards, then select the Draft (aka Manuscript) folder, make sure you’re in Corkboard view (View—>Corkboard if you’re not), then click the green Add button on the toolbar to create a new card. Title it, add a brief synopsis of the scene and repeat.

Once you have all of your scene documents created it’s merely a matter of filling them with words starting November 1.

corkboard view

Pantsers can just show up on day one, create a blank document and write a scene. Repeat.

If you want to group documents into folders, select the desired documents and choose Documents—>Group.

Keep Research Handy

Don’t spend your precious writing time searching for a key piece of information. Before November rolls around, import any research documents, images, or references that you must have in order to write. Select the desired folder (outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder) and go to File—>Import. For web pages, you might want to use References instead.

Track Your Progress

Your goal is 50,000 words, and Scrivener makes it easy to track your progress with project targets. Go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project–>Project Targets (Windows).

You can set a target for the entire manuscript, as well as one for each writing session. The session target is nice because it lets you track your word count either over the course of a whole day, or in smaller writing “sprints”.

project targets window

NOTE: The NaNoWriMo site calculates word count slightly differently than Scrivener. For example, Scrivener counts a hyphenated word as two, while the NaNo counter looks for spaces to identify each new word and only counts hyphenated words as one. So, you might want to shoot a little beyond the 50K finish line just to be on the safe side.

Or don’t hyphenate. Hyperventilating is optional.

What Were You Thinking??

Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is intended to be fun. It’s supposed to be a challenge that forces you to re-evaluate what you’re capable of. 4000-word writing days? You betcha. Writing for three, four, or eight hours in one day? I know you can do it.

Five minutes of daily meditation might help.

And in the end, even if you don’t reach 50K, you’re still a lot further ahead than you were on November 1st. That makes you a winner in my book.

Are you signing up for the challenge? If so, good luck!

Check back next week—or sign up to receive my blog posts in your Inbox at the bottom right—for tips on using Scrivener for iOS for NaNo.

For more information on the features mentioned in this post, sign up for an online class, check out Scrivener For Dummies, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.


Like this article?

tea mug and chocolate barIt takes a lot of mint green tea and dark chocolate to fuel these posts. If you found something helpful, please consider a small donation to my pantry. Thank you!

$

(enter desired amount)

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Donation Total: $3

Rocking NaNoWriMo with Scrivener

NaNo banner

Are you planning to tackle 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month in November? Here are some of my favorite Scrivener features for staying on track.

Annotations/Comments

When you get stuck in your manuscript—can’t think of the perfect dialogue, realize you don’t know the right word, feel like you need to do more research on the topic—make a note using an annotation or a comment and get back to rockin’ the words. You can use Find by Formatting in December to revisit the spots that need more work.

Annotations example

– Annotations: Format—>Inline Annotation

– Comments: Format—>Comment

– Find by Formatting: Edit—>Find—>Find by Formatting

Project Targets

Get a nice visual cue for how you’re doing with project targets. Set the Draft (Manuscript) Target to 50,000 and the Session Target to 1667, and let Scrivener keep track of your progress. You can leave the Project Targets window open or closed while writing.Project Target example

– Mac: Project—>Show Project Targets (NOTE: Mac users can go into the Options pane, set a deadline, and let Scrivener calculate/adjust the daily target automatically.)

– Windows: Project—>Project Targets

Full Screen/Composition Mode

Block out distractions with Full Screen (Windows) or Compositon (Mac) mode. You can keep the black background, change the color, or even add an image. I like images that are conducive to calm and creativity, but lately I’ve been using pictures that remind me of the setting of my story and keep me in that mood.

Full Screen Composition mode example

– Change the background color (Mac): Scrivener—>Preferences—>Compose, under Customizable Colors, choose Background and click the color box

– Change the background color (Windows): Tools—>Options—>Appearance, under Colors, choose Full Screen—>Background, and click the color box

– Use an image (Mac): View—>Composition Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your computer

– Use an image (Windows): View—>Full Screen Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your compute

NaNoWriMo Edition and Template

Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings.

If you’re new to Scrivener, there’s a NaNo version of the free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount at the end of November before you buy!

Extras

You can import your supporting materials—research, notes, and images—in advance. Simply drag them from your computer’s file system into the Binder, or go to File—>Import. Are you a plotter? Pre-plot your manuscript using the Corkboard, or just write out your ideas on a blank document stored outside the Draft folder. And you might want to add another document for storing ideas for changes or new scenes that come to you while writing.

Have fun!

Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun and empowering. Enjoy the process, write fast and loose, and don’t censor yourself. Even if you don’t “win,” you’ll probably still surprise yourself with how much you can write in a day or a week. No matter what the final word count, any progress toward your novel still makes you a winner.

After a year off, I’ve decided to rejoin the NaNo craziness, and I’ll be taking advantage of Scrivener to keep me on pace.

Are you taking up the NaNo challenge this year? Is it your first year? Your tenth? I’d love to know. And good luck! (I’m gmhernandez at nanowrimo.org if you want to add me as a buddy.)

Need help? Sign up for an online class, check out Scrivener For Dummies, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.


Like this article?

tea mug and chocolate barIt takes a lot of mint green tea and dark chocolate to fuel these posts. If you found something helpful, please consider a small donation to my pantry. Thank you!

$

(enter desired amount)

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Donation Total: $3

Brain on fire

Pic of woman with ideas around her headMy brain is on fire.

In a good way.

I’m not officially participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m still writing as much as possible. One of the benefits of working on my book every day is something I’ve noticed during NaNo in years past: The more I write, the more ideas come to me at all times of the day. Last night I even had a dream that rehashed the scene I was working on, something that rarely happens to me.

I love this state.

The joy, this constant flow of ideas, is how I felt when I first started writing nearly six(!) years ago. I thought about my characters while walking the dog, jogging, driving, shopping, eating, sleeping, cooking… At any time, I might get hit with the solution to a troubling scene, an idea for how to make the stakes higher or deepen the emotional impact, or a great twist.

Sadly, this phenomenon also works in reverse. Worse, I’ve tested the theory several times. 😉 The less I write, the less motivation I have to write, the more time passes between great ideas and thoughts of my story, and so I write even less. I sit down and stare at the page with no idea where to go next.

That loss of excitement and flow is the reason I signed up for NaNo the second time (and 3rd, 4th, 5th). To remind myself that consistency was the key to getting my writerly brain back, banishing the infernal internal editor who blocks me, and rediscovering the joy of telling stories.

It also reminds me that I can write way more words than I think I can.

When it comes down to it—like with anything—the key (for me, anyway) is to keep working at it. When it’s a slog, I brainstorm, free write, or reread parts of the story that I’ve forgotten. I do research or write backstory scenes to get to know my characters better. Anything to keep my head in the game.

Anything to keep my brain on fire.

Leveraging Scrivener for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo shield logo

For the first time since I started writing, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Not because I doubt the value of it, but because I’m nearing the end of my book and I need to focus on finishing and revising, rather than stressing over daily word count.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t remind you of all the ways I think Scrivener is great for NaNo. 🙂

The key to making your 1667 words per day is to never stop writing. Don’t edit, don’t research, don’t stare at the wall trying to craft the perfect line of dialog. Just write. Scrivener can help.

Since this post has become an annual tradition—and I don’t think I can top my suggestions for last year—here’s the lowdown on Scrivener’s best features for NaNoWriMo—and a bit of inspiration—from 2013.

Time-delay the Idea Fairy

Create a couple of text documents somewhere outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder before you start.

1) A document to jot down concepts that come to you for future scenes. When an idea hits, you can make a note of it and get back to work. I call mine “Ideas”. Clever, yes?

2) A change log to keep track of changes you want to make to existing scenes. Don’t go back and make the revisions, just note them in the log and keep writing as if you already did. In another dazzling display of brilliance, mine is named “Change Log”.

Just Keep Writing

Next time you get stuck trying to figure out the witty dialog in a scene, the ideal name for your fictional corporation, or the mating rituals of the Asian long-horned beetle, create an annotation (Format—>Inline Annotation) or a comment (Format—>Comment) to make a note of it and keep writing.

Later you can go back and use Edit—>Find—>Find By Formatting to search for annotations and comments when you’re ready to work on them. AFTER you hit 50K.

Block Distractions

Free yourself from distractions with Full Screen Composition mode. Called Full Screen in Windows and Composition mode on the Mac (to avoid confusion with Mac’s full screen option), this feature blocks out everything but your blank page so you can just write.

Consider adding a custom background color or image to keep you in the right frame of mind.

Add a pair of headphones or earbuds—with or without music—and you’re ready to rock.

Pre-Plot, If You Prefer

If you’re a plotter, consider creating your scene documents beforehand either in the Binder or the Corkboard. If you like to plot using index cards, then select the Draft/Manuscript folder, make sure you’re in Corkboard view (View—>Corkboard if you’re not), then click the circular green Add button on the toolbar to create a new card. Title it, add a brief synopsis of the scene and repeat.

Once you have all of your scene documents created it’s merely a matter of filling them with words starting November 1.

Keep Important Info at Hand

You don’t want to spend your precious writing time searching for a key piece of information. Before November rolls around, import into your project any research documents, images, or references you must have in order to write. Select the desired folder (outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder) and go to File—>Import. For web pages, you might want to use References instead.

Track Your Progress

Your goal is 50,000 words, and Scrivener makes it easy to track your progress with project targets. Go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project–>Project Targets (Windows).

You can set a target for the entire manuscript, as well as one for each writing session. The session target is nice because it lets you track your word count either over the course of a whole day, or in smaller writing “sprints”.

One thing to keep in mind with word count is that the NaNoWriMo site might calculate word count slightly differently than Scrivener. For example, Scrivener counts a hyphenated word as two, while the NaNo counter looks for spaces to identify each new word and only counts hyphenated words as one. So, you might want to shoot a little beyond the 50K finish line just to be on the safe side.

Download the NaNoWriMo Template or Trial Version

Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings.

For those who are new to Scrivener, Most Wonderful Keith and his crew at Literature & Latte have put together a NaNo version of the Scrivener free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount at the end of November before you buy.

Remember the Point

Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is intended to be fun. It’s supposed to be a challenge that forces you to re-evaluate what you’re capable of. 4000-word writing days? You betcha. Writing for three, four, or eight hours in one day? I know you can do it.

And in the end, even if you don’t reach 50K, you’re still a lot further ahead than you were on November 1st. That makes you a winner no matter what.

Good luck!

For more information on the features mentioned in this post, check out Scrivener For Dummies or sign up for an online class.

5 Year Anniversary!

By the way, this week was the five year anniversary of my blog. I can’t believe I’ve been writing posts for that long, or that some of you have stuck around with me since nearly the beginning. For my followers—new and old—thank you for your continued support.

If you’re curious, here’s my first blog post from October 27, 2009: Goal, Motivation & Conflict.  At that time, I’d been writing for less than a year. It wasn’t long before I put up my first Scrivener post, and the rest is history… 😉

If you aim at nothing

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
~ Zig Ziglar

Aims.I didn’t win NaNoWriMo (again) this year.

I’m okay with that.

The first two years I participated in National Novel Writing Month—2010 and 2011—I won. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but I managed it.

The last two times I attempted NaNo were a different story. In both cases, I was in the middle of editing another manuscript while trying to work on my 50K. It was probably unrealistic of me to expect that I even had a chance when I wasn’t going to be able to devote myself more fully to writing. So why bother?

Because it’s not really about the 50K for me, it’s about the push.

Sure, I didn’t make my goal, but I still wrote 37,735 words! I accomplished that even though I only wrote on 20 of the available 30 days, which gives me an average of about 1887 words per day. For me, that’s a really good average. If I’d done that every day, I would have hit 50K three days ahead of schedule.

The main thing is that I now have almost 38,000 words that I didn’t have on November first.

Score! If I got nothing else out of NaNo, that would be plenty. But I always get more out of it.

Michael-Jordan-Picture-QuoteI’ve reminded myself that I can keep writing even when I think I can’t. Those times when I thought I didn’t have any words left, but I still needed to squeeze out 200 more (or ten more minutes), I somehow found a way to keep writing. Several times I got on a roll and kept going for significantly longer.

In fact, some of my best work came after I pushed through a block.

My most productive day was 4.5 hours of writing that yielded almost 3200 words. It’s easy to forget that I have the ability to tune everything else out and do that, then repeat the feat again the next day. It’s a capability I have to keep in mind if I’m going to be as prolific as I’d like.

Participating in NaNo is the annual adjustment I need to remember what’s really important (the writing), and how to make sure I get it done (turn off and tune out distractions, keep putting my rear in the chair until I’ve met my daily goal, push through the hard times, write even when I don’t think I have nothing to say).

The more I write, the more the ideas flow. Somehow I always forget that. I tend to get stuck in a story and want to dwell on the fix for days by brainstorming, making outlines, reading other people’s books… 😉 But if I just sit and write—maybe even another scene or just random notes and ideas—the solution comes. Every time.

The few minutes after I awake each day are more productive than ever when I’m writing consistently. They produce very few ideas when I’m in “brainstorming mode.”

So for me, it’s not about the 50K so much as the rejuvenation of my writing mind and soul, the cultivation of the habits that help me get the work done, and the increased output that is still a huge leap for me, even if I don’t “win.”

For me, that is a win.

Image credits:
Aims, By Youth Hostel (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Quote, by http://addicted2success.com/quotes/60-colorful-picture-quotes-to-empower-your-life/