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How to become an expert in 6 years

Guru name badge“How did you become a Scrivener expert?” a man recently asked me at a workshop for Yale librarians.


A couple years ago, I finally decided to own that title: Scrivener expert. I wanted a better word—because there’s that saying that if someone has to tell you they’re an expert, they probably aren’t. But guru? Even more pretentious. Trainer? Too bland, and limiting. Coach? Uh, taken by that point. Ninja, queen, or Jedi would have been more fun, but those should probably be reserved for the folks at Literature & Latte who know more about Scrivener than anyone on Earth.

So, expert it is. (Until I change my mind. 😉 ) Assuming I am one, the answer about how I got there is both easy and hard, because it happened by accident, without intention.

How does anyone become good at anything? Practice.

Some experts (in other fields) say 10,000 hours of practice.

I have no idea how many hours I’ve put into Scrivener since 2009—a lot!—but my efforts grew out of love. I truly love Scrivener, and I had an insatiable desire to learn its secrets and share them with my friends. I also happen to enjoy working with software, and teaching. Triple win.

When I reached the limits of my knowledge, I ran through Scrivener’s menus looking for functions I didn’t know how to use, and then looked them up in the manual. I distilled each feature down to what I thought were its key points, and wrote a blog post about what I’d found.

Then I did it again. And again.

I started teaching.

I wrote a book.

And through it all, I kept learning. I’m still learning. I get questions from Scrivener users almost every day, and I answer all of them (I’m in trouble now, right?) because sometimes they challenge me, and I don’t want to stagnate. And because I like helping people come to love what I love.

Being an expert isn’t so special. Everyone is an expert at something. It merely takes time and a strong interest. Consistency.

And, for me, a little love.

Where do you claim expertise?

By the way, if you want to increase your understanding of Scrivener, the Scrivener Master Course: Compile starts Monday. 🙂 Last chance to take the class for $20!

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    Great post, Gwen! I can attest to how much of an expert you are, having taken your classes, and I always recommend them to anyone who wants to learn all about this terrific software. That said, there should be no doubt that you are, indeed, an expert! Thanks. 🙂

  2. Reply

    So, expert it is. (Until I change my mind. )
    Assuming I am one,
    the answer about how I got there
    is both easy and hard,
    because it happened by accident,
    without intention.

    Don’t look now but you have developed/discovered a rhythm and pace that makes writing, writing and enjoyable to read. It’s what happens when head and heart move in concert. Words, then, do more than tell, they sing.

    Expert has a nice ring to it. Gifted teacher comes closer to the mark. ( Your Scrivener book. Underlined, paper clipped pages and notes in the margins. Without it I would still be dropping TextEdit notes in files on the desktop.) Thank you.

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