This month (as you may have noticed) I was participating in National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo. I could have used anything software to enter it all, but I chose Scrivener from Literature and Latte.

I think it played a big part in me being able to organize my thought well enough to get to the 50,000 word mark. The key is the beautiful way it morphs so seamlessly from outline view to document view is amazing. It works the way I like to think.

Not only that but when you’re editing something you’re not looking at the entire giant mountain of text. Sure, Word or Pages can edit a 200-page document without breaking a sweat. That’s great and all, but I would be breaking a sweat trying to find my way around it. The normal outline view in either of the main-stream editors, while good for a small project, seems to break down for me mentally as things get huge.

In Scrivener you generally look at only the snippet that you’re working on. If you want you can look at and edit larger groupings of snippets, but the default is just the one you’re on. It’s such a simple concept but it makes my life so much easier. You can even edit multiples in a split-screen if you want to.

It also provides great templating features and places to keep research and notes. Having everything in one place makes this whole endeavor so much easier!

A couple of the features that he added for 2.0 are killer as well: Sync to folder and custom metadata.

Sync to external folder just deposits the the individual snippets into a folder. In my case I picked a Dropbox folder to do the sync. The magic though is that it syncs in both directions. I can sit down at work at lunch and edit in Word. When I get home all my changes are re-integrated into the whole. As a bonus my doc is backed up on a bunch of different computers.

Custom metadata helped me out as well. My novel takes place over a two-month time-frame and I wanted to make sure things are coherent in their timing. I just added an added column to my outline for the date the scene was taking place. It helped me to quickly see at a glance what’s going on when.

On top of the editing though the motivators are cool tool. Setting a goal for each day and sticking to it (when I wasn’t at an off-site meeting) made the whole thing come together. I simply didn’t let myself fall behind. Watching that bar grow and turn green makes me happy.

Honestly though I’m only scratching the surface of what this can do. I didn’t have time to experiment, as much as would’ve liked to. As I loop around to get back to the editing process I’m sure to use a lot more of the features as well.

Overall, I’m a huge fan! It made this epic journey of writing a book a little easier to wrap my head around!