9 Reasons Why I Don’t Use Scrivener


Getting the Same Results Without Scrivener

I’m tired of all these promo blog posts and articles and ads and on and on about how awesome and fantabulous Scrivener is. It’s a marketing ploy. I have nothing against L&L, their makers. Actually, I’m really glad for them. I remember them from way back in the day when they were not so publicized and popular, so kudos for them for pressing on and their success.

But back to my point.

I’m sure the program’s great for some people. They love it, they live in it, awesome. But isn’t writing about writing? Not about the software you use? Yeah, I can see how some software helps the writer, but it all boils down to the words on the page. Using a particular software, especially one tagged specifically for authors, is NOT, I repeat, not going to help somebody write better. Or be more productive. All that is up to the writer. Not the program. Scrivener is not going to do the work for you.

So in response to all these numbered lists of why Scrivener is the best and how it can do so much moar than every other program out there, and all this mumbo jumbo hype, I offer my own list of why MS Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Pages, and dare I say even Notepad, can achieve the same results as Scrivener.

  1. I can create story notes or ideas via creating a new document in the book’s folder, in Notepad, or a real notebook, etc.
  2. Also, I can jot down notes or comments or highlight and circle anywhere in my notebook. Ideas can be written down anywhere on a page. Line or column or table limitations don’t exist in tangible paper made out of trees.
    And if carrying around a small 5×8″ notebook (or an even smaller one, le gasp! Yes, they make them that portable! Smaller than your cell phone!) is an absolute improbability or you just can’t fathom keeping track of a physical tangible notebook, you can install Dropbox or Onedrive into any device of your choosing and access your storynotes.doc anywhere, anytime.
  3. Word remembers your spot, too. But do you really need help remembering where you were last in your document? Is it so hard to jot down a small note if you need to be reminded?
  4. You can outline in any program, including your notebook. And it’s easy to jot down any thought at all in your notebook. Just pick up a pencil or a pen, even a marker or highlighter. Use post-its.
  5. Structure is easy to see via Navigation pane (View Tab) and using Headers/Styles.
  6. Consequently, you can use comment features to jot down notes in the document (Review Tab<New Comment), and you can also keep track of changes (Review Tab<Track Changes<explore different ways to track changes)
  7. Word has autosave, too.
  8. I can eliminate the ribbon in MS Word to make a distraction-free workzone. Or you can use one of the plethora of distraction-free writing software. I use FocusWriter and interchange documents between programs. And it’s free. Well Word is not, but if I can’t afford $8 a month for my writing hobby, then I may as well just stop spending $8 a week on milk because that’s a ridiculous amount of money to be spending on milk.
  9. FocusWriter has word count goals, timers, daily wordcount goals. And I’m sure other writing software have those options as well. I used to use WriteMonkey but eh, for whatever reasons I’m not deeply recalling, I switched over. But I recommend both.

And another thing that irks me about the pro-Scrivener articles? They all seem to say that despite its learning curve, which you can easily maneuver around via online videos/courses/etc., it’s really not a hard program to understand. Just watch this or click that and pay here or pay later, yadda yadda. Then you will be a Scrivener pro user! Well, a learning curve is necessary for any program. Learning Scrivener is no different than learning any other program.

So let me get this straight. “Aspiring writers” (a phrase that irks me. You’re either a writer or you’re not. If you’re an “aspiring writer,” that means you’re thinking about writing. Not actually writing.) pay to learn how to use Scrivener. For what? I can see folks paying to learn Excel, or Autocad, or Maya, or even Photoshop, but Scrivener? Really? This is another reason why I think Scrivener is a marketing scheme for procrastinating writers who get excited about learning something new. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s time wasted that could be spent doing something useful towards writing. Scrivener is not going to suddenly inspire you to write better plots or a better book.

It all boils down to this: if you’re a writer, it won’t matter WHAT program you use to write. Can you type in it? That’s good enough. Everything else is up to you.

If you have a problem getting distracted, then turn off your internet. Close those other programs. Disable your popups. Learn to focus. No one or nothing is going to legitimately HELP you write. Only yourself. Stop depending on technology. Call me crotchety or old-fashioned, but I see the computer as a device to write faster. I don’t see it as the answer to all my problems, especially not to the problems I come across when it comes to writing. It’s not going to help me structure or plot better. Or come up with better characters. I use a pen and paper for that.

30 responses to “9 Reasons Why I Don’t Use Scrivener

  1. I was just about to take out my debit card to buy Scrivener for my Mac when I read your article. My main hesitation is the same – gee, why can’t I just keep a notebook? Thanks, I’m going to skip it for a while. The extended learning curve (curse?) will keep me from writing for a month or so.


    • I’m not faulting scrivener for what it does, or is…just don’t jump bandwagons on account of someone’s opinion. It’s advertising for the most part…either on behalf of Scrivener’s creator or it’s something that the person selling themselves thinks might interest you. They love it, they’re prolific writers, successful…so by association…you will be too. NO, you won’t. Writing is difficult, time-consuming, and unless your gifted, there’s a steep learning curve, if you want to do it at the highest levels.

      Want to know what will help you most? Learn the craft of writing. There is a lot to it. A lot. It’s not something that you’ll learn overnight. Delve into it. When I first started writing, I thought I was pretty good, now decades later, I think I’m not as good as I could be, and maybe that’s a secret every great writer knows…be aware of your limitations and needs.

      I’m not saying Scrivener won’t work for you…or that it’s inferior to Word…or any other comparable word processor. Just don’t get caught buying a tool because of advertising rhetoric, when what you really need to do is learn the craft of writing. You can import all the research in the world…make notes till you fall out…and you still have to put words on paper, so to speak, in a professional manner. Doing research is a snap with the access to data that we have using internet search engines like, Google. But, research is just browsing if you don’t’ know what to do with it once you have it.

      Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think some people buy scrivener just to join the club and become active commentators on forums. Now they feel like they belong…people will respond to their comments. It makes them feel good…so they encourage others to do the same.


  2. I’ve been suspecting something like that. Unless scrivener magically downloads your ideas from your brain into the form of a great novel, I don’t see the point.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Old post I know.. but I’ve tried scrivener like 4 different times, and every time I end up after two weeks telling myself, I like good old word better. I don’t need or want a bunch of fancy tools when I’m drafting. Fingers, keyboard, word, screen. That’s all I need to actually write.


  4. Amen brother. I totally agree. I finished my first draft with Scrivener after twice losing days of work due to sync to dropbox failing or the app crashing, and crashing on a Mac is hard to do too. Man, I wish I had stayed out of Scrivener. Note to L&L, stop frigging messing with the layouts and core features. Enhancements should not be full blown rewrites. I hate you Scrivener.


  5. Pingback: Scrivener: Why? – Errant Jones·

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