Starting Scrivener (Yep, the absolute basics)

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Knowing Your Whys

Why do you want to learn—or get better at—Scrivener? What motivated you to sign up for this course? Think about it for a minute, and then write down your answers. Don't worry. I'll wait. (Cue Jeopardy music…)

Now, pick one or two key reasons, jot them on a sticky note, and put the note somewhere you'll see it regularly. According to Charles Duhigg's book Smarter Faster Better, knowing your overall reason for a task helps you get and stay motivated to work on it.

So, now that you have your reasons, anytime your motivation flags you can revisit your “whys” and get back on track. Before you know it, you'll be using Scrivener like a champ.

TIP: It's okay if you don't remember or master everything I cover in this class. You can come back to it anytime. Plus, things you don't need now might be helpful down the road, so just be happy knowing the features exist. If you ever have a use for them, you'll know where to look. Oh, and have fun!

Beginning with the Basics

No matter what level of Scrivener user you are, it’s important to know the basics. Over the last few years, I’ve realized that many people don’t understand some of the key fundamentals of Scrivener. So, we’re going to start at the very beginning to ensure that you’re on the right path.

The basic file type used in Scrivener is the project. Think of a Scrivener project as a big three-ring binder where you can store your writing, along with your research, notes, pictures, links, and references. You can create a project file for each of your writing projects. I have one for each manuscript, one for a series bible, another to hold and organize blog posts, and one to track appearances and associated materials.

Scrivener is suited to just about any writing-related project you can think of. I’ve worked with students who use Scrivener to write novels, memoirs, travel guides, short stories, ad copy, legal contracts and briefs, how-to manuals, genealogy reports, cookbooks, and more.

So, let’s get to it!

Starting Scrivener

To start Scrivener, you can open the program by clicking the icon located in your Dock, in the Applications folder in Finder, or as a shortcut on your Desktop (if you have one there).

Scrivener 3 Mac logo

When you start Scrivener, you will see one of three things:

  1. The Project Templates window
    This window appears the first time you use Scrivener, and anytime you closed all projects before exiting the program last time (see #2). From here, you can either create a new project or open an existing one.
    NOTE: You can also access the Project Templates window when Scrivener is open by going to File>New Project. project templates window
  1. The last project you worked on
    If you close Scrivener without closing your projects first—totally okay to do—it will open those same projects when you start it next time. Pretty cool, huh?
  2. Nothing but the menu bar
    If you start Scrivener and don’t see the Project Templates window or an open project, that’s okay. It just means your settings/preferences are set that way. You can still open an existing project by going to File>Open, or create a new project via File>New Project. File menu
    TIP: You can change your settings to ensure you always see the Project Templates window when there’s no project open in Scrivener. Go to Scrivener
    >Preferences>General>Startup, and check the box to “Show template chooser when there are no projects open.” Preferences window showing startup settings

Opening an Existing Project

If you already have an existing project, you can open the project and Scrivener at the same time. Simply locate the project in Finder and double-click it.

To open a project from within Scrivener, use one of the following menu options.

— File>Open

— File>Recent Projects (to access a shortcut list of recently opened projects)

— From the Project Templates window, click the Open an Existing File button.

— From the Project Templates window, click the Open Recent button (to access a shortcut list of recently opened projects).

Video review – 2:54 mins

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