Scrivener: The Most Remarkable Writing Software You’ll Never Understand


The shirt was user-friendly and practically self-explanatory


When I finished Camp Nanowrimo two years ago (30 days of fast-paced word accumulation, er… I mean, novel writing…) I was so happy with my work I bought a t-shirt and a discounted version of Scrivener, a new-ish, unique-y software just for artsy types like me that was “three thousand times better than MS Word.”

It came with a tutorial.

I watched the tutorial.

In the first ten minutes, I couldn’t figure out where the binder I had opened ended up, and why writing in Word and converting the files to Scrivener was a top feature.

But that was a long time ago, and since then, I have heard almost EVERY DAY how great Scrivener is for writers. My writing group has these conversations all the time:

“I just hit publish on my 89th novel!” “What-the-how…?” “Haha, I use Scrivener! It sucks the stories out of my head before I can even start typing. It’s so easy and intuitive!” “Not for me…I’ve had Scrivener for a year, and still don’t know how it works.” “Do you use a Mac?” “No.”



In full disclosure, I have also never learned to use a Mac. I can’t even wear a mac! But this is a rant about Scrivener…

I bought the software way back yonder, watched the tutorial, got confused, and lost my files. Okay… back on the horse. I decided to schedule time to learn Scrivener. This was going to change my life, after all. About three days in, I realized there is nothing intuitive about this software except maybe that some programmer threw it together on a hunch naive writers would buy it. (We’ll buy anything. Ask Writer’s Digest.)

That was about the time I received an e-mail for a free tutorial webinar just for Camp Nanowrimo participants. Aha! Others were having the same problems, I thought, we’ll work it all out together. We’ll collaborate. Kumbaya!

If you really want to learn from a webinar, keep your eye on the comment bar. Often, in sales-type web-vertizements, you will see questions answered with accidental candor. “This weight loss supplement seems great for Photoshop images. Will it work if I have a body?” “No. Only if you are an image. Sorry.” “Thanks.”

The comments in the Scrivener bar looked like this. “I LOVE SCRIVENER!!!” “Scrivener has meed me a bitter wrtr.” “I’m having trouble with Scrivener for PC.” “Are you using a Mac?” “No, PC/Windows…” “Oh, man, you are so screwed. How fast can you get a Mac and reinstall Scrivener?” “Scrivener has made me a million dollars in book sales since I got it yesterday, and I’m not an affiliate – what’s an affiliate? lol.”

Meanwhile, the Scrivener tutor is sticking to his step-by-step presentation, opening files, clicking icons, and deftly avoiding any comments from PC users. “I see someone made a million dollars using Scrivener. That’s great! Now, you want to get back over to your index cards…”

Somewhere toward the end of a 90-minute session, he acknowledged there was a learning curve. A learning curve? Tutorials abound on YouTube (More than 15,000 for Windows users) but comments are either disabled or kudos from other Scrivener promoters. Hmm…

Okay, how about a search for “Is Scrivener Worth It?” This article was written by the Scrivener Coach, so gee, what do you think? Some of the comments are “I hate the Scrivener interface with a passion.” Followed by “50% off Your Purchase of Scrivener!”

Go to Amazon and check out some actual PC Download Reviewers’ Greatest Hits with titles like, “Cumbersome” and “I Give Up.”

The takeaway is Scrivener might be a lovely program if you have a Mac. If you have a PC, tough luck: you wasted your money. That’s okay. We PC users have old-fashioned grit and determination on our side.

chicken backs

We’re just fine, thank you

The Scrivener folks (Literature&Latte, isn’t that cute?) have done an impressive job of heading off negativity calling dissatisfied customers “Scrivener Scowlers” (more cute!) and assuring them that if they pay for coaching, they can be up and running in no time. Honestly, I am slightly afraid this post will attract the Scrivener Scallywags and Scaramouches who will cute me to death and turn my scowl upside-dowl… anyhooooo.

Still think you want Scrivener? Dreaming of making your writing life easier? Want to crank out the kind of puppies that plot and character themselves? I will sell you my version and throw in a side of pixie dust. ; )

Please leave your opinions in the comments section. I’d love to hear a success story that doesn’t link to a Scrivener-related product. Thanks!


2 thoughts on “Scrivener: The Most Remarkable Writing Software You’ll Never Understand

  1. Alex Hurst

    Scrivener is amazing on Mac, but I’ve heard endless complaints about the PC interface. I think there is a better writing software for PC, though… the name is escaping me though…. *Google* … Liquid Story Binder! But I only used that one because it was cheap-o when I had my Acer. I hear Write Way is the best for PC, though, I’ve never used it.

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