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Scrivener’s best for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is coming! Worried about how you can reach your 50K words? Scrivener can’t do the writing for you, but it can certainly make the job easier.

Here are some of Scrivener's best features to help keep you on track when you’re burning up the keyboard.

Stay on Track

Staying on track for NaNo is not easy, but keeping track of your progress is a cinch if you use Project Targets.

You know you need 50,000 words, 1667 per day if you write all 30 days. Set up your overall word count goal, and then a session goal for each time you sit down to write. The colorful progress bars will show you how you’re doing.

Mac users can use the Deadline setting under Options to calculate the session target automatically based on the days you plan to work. And when you're done, you can tweet your results right from the Project Targets window by clicking the blue bird!

For more on Project Targets, check out this post.

Enter Your Den of Zen

If you’re like me, you write better without distractions. Scrivener has you covered with Composition Mode (Mac)/Full Screen Mode (Windows).

You can change your background color to whatever gets your creative juices flowing and block out everything else. Mac users can even change the background to an image.

Learn more here.

Don’t Slow Down

Haven’t figured out that line of snappy dialogue? Need a fact, but don’t want to stop your momentum to research it? Insert an annotation and get back to work.

Annotations are colored bubbles of text that you insert directly into your writing. They’re easy-to-spot reminders that something needs fixed, but later, after NaNo. And when you’re ready to make the changes, they’re simple to find again.

Click here to learn more about annotations.

Also, consider creating a Change Log or Ideas Log document in the Binder to store ideas for earlier scenes, or those that might come later in the manuscript. You can jot down an idea when inspiration hits, and then get back to writing. When NaNo is over, your ideas will all be waiting.

Info at a Glance

Need quick access to your character’s names and/or basic info? Or your descriptions of locations? Or a reminder of what special power each character has?

Whatever it is, in addition to storing a complete document in the Binder, you can put an abbreviated list in the Project Notes section of the Inspector panel. Not only does this make it available without leaving the document you’re working on (or using split screen), but you can view the Project Notes pane from Composition/Full Screen view.

Easy Access

Don’t forget to import your must-have research, notes, references, and images before you get started. By storing key items within Scrivener, you won’t have to waste time hunting them down when you’re in a crunch.

Remember to breathe, relax, and have fun. Even if you don’t reach 50K, you’ll come out knowing you gave it your best shot, and you’ll likely have more words than you otherwise would have.

Good luck!

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

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Tech Tuesday: Project Targets in Scrivener 2.x

arrow in target bullseye

Want to know how many words you added to (or deleted from) your manuscript today? Need to see how close you are to your total word count goal? My favorite way to do this in Scrivener is via Project Targets.

The Project Targets feature lets you set an overall project target (of words, characters, or pages [Mac only]), as well as a target for your writing sessions.

You can also set a target for an individual document within your project. This is great if you're shooting for a minimum word count for a scene, or when you have a desired word count for a blog post or article. See the Document Targets section at the end for more.

View Project Targets

To open the Project Targets window, go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or  Project—>Project Targets (Windows).

You'll see two types of targets: Draft (or Manuscript or something else depending on which template you chose or if you've renamed that folder) and Session.

Setting targets (Mac)

Setting targets (Mac)

Setting targets (Windows)

Setting targets (Windows)

Draft Target:

  • Lets you set a goal for the entire manuscript.
  • Only counts text from items stored within the Draft folder.
  • By default, it only counts text from items that are selected to be included in Compile, either in the Inspector's General (General Meta-Data in Windows) section, or in the Contents pane of the Compile window. Windows users can deselect the “Documents included in compile only” checkbox to count all text in the Draft folder. Mac users can make the change under the Options button (see the Project Target Options section below).

Session Target:

  • Lets you set a goal for your current writing session, whether it be one hour, or the whole day.
  • Provides a net word count, so if you delete more words than you add, you'll get a negative result. This might be desirable, especially if you're trying to reduce your total word count during revisions (Mac users can change this behavior in the Options section).
  • Count resets at midnight or when you close the project (Mac users can change this behavior in the Options section) .

Setting Your Targets

  1. Under the Draft Target progress bar, click in the number box after the word “of” to enter a target for the entire manuscript.
  2. To change from words to characters or pages (Mac only), click the double arrow button and select your preference.
  3. Follow the same steps to set a session target in the text box below the Session Target progress bar.

The progress bar fills and changes color (in graduated shades from red to green) as you add words.

Making progress (Mac)

Making progress (Mac)

Making progress (Windows)

Making progress (Windows)

Project Target Options (Mac only for now)

You can change which documents count toward your progress and how you’re notified by clicking on the Options button while in the Project Target window.

project target options window

Draft Target section

Applies to your entire manuscript.

– The first option will only count words written in documents that are set to be included in compile (either in the Inspector's General section [called General Meta-Data in Windows], or in the Contents pane of the Compile window).

– The second option will only count documents selected to compile in your Compile Manuscript settings (chosen in the Contents pane of the Compile window during your last compile). This means that even if a document is selected for compile, if you've applied a filter or some other means to narrow down what gets compiled, this box will only include the final (smaller) list.

(I recommend leaving both of these unchecked so you don't have to worry about counts changing if you compile a portion of a manuscript or an outline.)

– The Deadline option allows you to input the date that you need to reach your goal.

Session Target Section

These options apply only to the current writing session.

– The reset drop-down menu lets you choose if/when Scrivener will reset your session count. If you tend to work late, or don't take note of your progress until the next day, I recommend choosing to Never Automatically Reset Session Counts.

– The first checkbox in this section lets you count words written anywhere in the project, even outside of your Draft folder, even those not checked to Include in Compile. That means character sheets, notes, etc… But this only applies to the Session count, not the progress toward the Draft goal.

  – Allow negatives lets you have a net word count below zero. So, if you write 100 words and delete 200 words, your session word count would be −100. If you uncheck the box, your word count won't dip below zero no matter what, but your net count may be inaccurate if you delete a lot of text.

  – Automatically calculate from draft deadline lets you choose a deadline and let Scrivener determine how much you need to write each day to meet it. For this to work, you must have a date entered in the Deadline field of the Draft Target section above.

– Use the day of the week buttons to select those days that you intend to work. Scrivener will adjust the target session count accordingly.

Show Target Notifications

If you select this option, a small pop-up will appear when you reach your target (or fall back below it when deleting text).

Document Targets

In addition to project and session targets, Scrivener also lets you set targets for each specific document and displays your progress in the status bar at the bottom of the Editor.

  1. To start, select the document for which you want to set a target.
  2. Click the circular target icon at the right of the status bar at the bottom of the document (see image).
  3. set doc targetsEnter the target count and select the type of target (words or characters).
  4. If desired, choose to use notifications.
  5. Click OK.
    The word count/target and a colored progress bar are now visible in the status bar.DocTargetProgress

Enjoy shooting for those targets. May you have many words to track! For more on targets, check out this 6/30/2016 post on Tracking Progress at Writer Unboxed.

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

[Updated 11 June 2015]

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