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.


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

  1. I see where you’re coming from… I think that Scrivener has just made it easier to keep everything in one place for a lot of people. I used Word and LibreOffice for a long time. But since I started using Scrivener I have enjoyed how easy it is to keep everything easily accessible in the program. It’s helped me have a “digital” world building binder. The mixed media features are wonderful for me.

    Anyway, I agree that you can write with anything. I also spent my high school years writing on the page. (And sometimes I still do that if I’m having trouble with a part in my story… that helps a lot)

    I enjoyed hearing your opinions and your writing style was a blast.

    They’re all tools. You got to the heart of the matter. Just write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve tried Scrivener a few times: the first time during its inception, and then my most recent “try” just last year. And it always sounds so appealing! But every time I tinker with it, the anticipation deflates immediately . Like I’m trying to fix something that isn’t broken. My muse refuses to adapt!

      However, you are quite right in that Scrivener allows for much more than just text. The mixed media integration makes for endless possibilities. I am a big fan of stationary, so perhaps that has something to do with my preference for using a pen and paper. Or perhaps I’m just sentimental for the ole’ MS paper clip.

      Thank for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that we all have a process and I’m glad you had the courage to voice your opinion on a topic that is so huge on the internet. It’s what made me follow you. You aren’t afraid of your own voice… I like that.
        Pen and paper is still something I fall back on myself with certain scenes that I write. But let’s face it, even with Scrivener you’re going to have notes and post-its and crap everywhere!
        I look forward to hearing more of what you have to say. Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe there is a thing going on about how some people like Chihuahuas and other can’t stand the yappy little beasts.

    If you’re happy with Word, I see no reason to change. Writing is hard enough without throwing new software at the problem.

    I turned to Scrivener for two reasons: the ability to create an ebook from the text directly, and my extreme frustration with Word. I’m also a Mac person, and Scrivener is native Mac – Word is native PC. It’s subtle but there.

    I like it. I got the novel I just published to the point where I could make a new ebook version from changed text with one click. And one tiny post-processing step (because I’m stubborn, and I wanted those epigraphs I put at the head of chapters to have left AND right indented margins (if at all curious, search for Scrivener on my blog)).

    I suspect it fits with my writing style somehow: I went from tons of paper folders to most of everything within a single Scrivener project.

    I was a huge Word user a few years back, and then I got too complex for it.

    I wouldn’t change if I were you – it is not REQUIRED.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Software Review: Scrivener for Academic Writing | Thesislink·

    • That’s okay! It’s basically a virtual story notebook with the ability to keep all your pictures, character sheets and etc. in one program. It’s too much of a hassle for me to change the method I have already. As with all creative endeavors, everyone should do what works for them!

      Happy writing and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I tend to hear the same things about Scrivener when it’s being run on a PC. Mac users tend to be more than happy… but I get it. I used to love Liquid Story Binder when I had an Acer. But it wasn’t available on Mac.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lol, scrivener is very powerful when you learn it thoroughly. It really is a tremendously valuable tool if you enjoy keeping and organizing all your thoughts in one place. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt that Scrivener is very good when used to its potential! I’ve been using Scrivener for editing my first draft and personally, I could take it or leave it. Each program has its individual strengths and weaknesses, and I do believe that what program you use is really all a matter of personal preference and what you want your software to do for you.


  6. I began using Scrivener for Windows over three years ago now and I have to say I am just as in love with her today as I was on that fateful day in a NaNoWriMo chatroom when our eyes met during the mandatory “Panser vs. Plotter” debate that must happen each year just before November. A fellow writer introduced us and it has been all about the passion ever since. Granted, we have had our problems. I fell for her too fast, too soon, and too hard. So sure, we can both be irrational and demanding. And yes, occasionally we will get into it, and I admit a few times when it got away from us and the fighting was particularly violent that the neighbors ended up calling the cops.

    But to your point, I think the gushing reviews and overly evangelical tone of many of those articles and posts you cited is not at all about marketing. It’s simply the software being “discovered” much the same as I did but in increasingly larger and larger numbers. Literature & Latte have created something great but they have stayed humble and kept the price at a very reasonable $40 and if any marketing silliness is going on its being done by writers trying to make Scrivener manuals and digital classrooms into paying gigs. (By the way, my book on Scrivener will be available on Amazon soon and the website should soon follow.)

    And yes sometimes the effort it takes to “not write” is embarrassingly transparent and reminds me of a scene in John Irving’s The World According to Garp when even a writer made-up by another writer still struggled to keep the main thing, the main thing.

    “You’re doing this because it’s easier than sitting down and making something up, from scratch. And you know it. You’re building bookshelves all over the house, and finishing floors, and fucking around in the garden,” Garp’s wife tells him.

    At least my life is imitating a character in one of my favorite pieces of art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Scrivener is useful, don’t get me wrong, but it really just boils down to the fact that it doesn’t matter what medium you use to write… just write!


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  8. Totally understand where you are coming form. Oddly enough I use none of the features in Scrivener really, like the outline or editor windows. They confuse me, if I’m being honest. And at that stage, I prefer pen and paper 😀

    However, I cannot stand Word or LibreOffice/OpenOffice. The formatting drives me to despair.

    I agree though, it does seem like a huge marketing ploy. I have it and use it, not to its full potential but enough for me.

    Nice article 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but I do use Scrivener here and there for edits, but overall, it would be a big transition for me to do the switch from Word to Scrivener. Not to mention some small changes in approach. I like Scrivener’s capabilities of congruity, but being that I already have a writing method, old habits die hard!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I get your points, but I love Scrivener (for Mac) for one main reason. When I open my novel in Word and go to scroll down to where I’m up to, Word hasn’t finished loading the document and jumps me back up to the top. Repeat 10 to 20 times until I actually manage to get to my place to start writing. My books tend to run long, and Word has a lot of trouble scrolling me up and down within them. Scrivener has no trouble. I like Scrivener for a lot of other reasons, but this one would be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry this is a response to an old post, but when people talk about “scrolling” to where they left off in Word…do you not hit Shift-F5 when you open the document to take you to the last cursor position? Scrolling is a pain!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. 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. – uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ur wrong as fuck


  11. Agree. I have read an article where the author said that he couldn’t write on Word and then he used Scrinever and suddenly he could! How amazing! It made me question whether or not he’s serious about writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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