NVDT #77 – Make It Easy On Yourself


Prompt- What software do you use for your writing? Bookkeeping? Artwork? Calendar?

Scrivener. Quicken. For Digital Graphics Paint Shop Pro (and half a dozen Ashampoo specialty). Outlook.

Scrivener because it works. Where else will you get a novel, screenplay or academic document scene by scene with scene/chapter drag-and-drop capability? No, Leroy gets shot here, and Matilda breaks up with him here. Shit. Matilda needs to become Gretchen. BAM. Global change. I had someone inform me I used the Grave Accent throughout a novel for the French name of a major character, when I should have used the Acute Accent. Morisé, you say? Fixed with two clicks and saved to the dictionary. With folders for graphics, characters, timelines, research – everything is in one environment. I even have folders for scenes and lines I liked, but cut. Because they might be useful somewhere, in something and they sure as hell aren’t coming back from the trash. Except in Scrivener which holds your trash till you dump it, which should be never until you paste it out into a random-scenes-and-shit doc.

There are hundreds of how-to videos for Scrivener. Spend 10 minutes and you can learn to export your book, formatted, with linked TOC, in any format you might need from ePub to PDF to DOCX to the “specific” Apple/Google/Kindle/Nook flavor of the month.

An entire novel, by scene, plus resources visual on the left. I could get rid of them for uncluttered work space, use the corkboard or the notes or the timeline. It also keeps a running word count if you need to hit markers.

Disclaimer. I am not a shill for Scrivener, but I am a huge fan. I was a product specialist for high end audio software(s) and my advice was always buy something stable that will work the way you do. The best software will take into account various presentations and workflows and make automatic the things that should be. Regardless of whether you like post-it notes or XL lists or index cards, or a graphic representation of your work, pick your visual and get after it in Scrivener. I still sketch in Word or whatever is at hand but dump it into Scriv if it’s going to end up over three pages or one scene. And it is cross-platform, including iOS.


Quicken talks to my bank, sorts reports by expense type, by vendor, by whatever. I have been a 1099 guy most of my adult life. You only have to get audited once to know that great notes are your biggest asset. “Well, hell. You aren’t even close to fraud. You just forgot to pay us enough.”


Paint Shop Pro because I started with them way back in the dark ages. Their new product is stellar and a hell of a lot less expensive than the other option. Plus, you get to own it, not rent it. It runs PS plugs. It has a Bob Ross brush set. What more do you want? I rarely create in the digital realm, but I scan and touch up and alter. I should mention I am primarily a pen and ink / black and white person when it comes to rolling my own. Somehow there’s more to Ansel Adams than most of the fade wash water time exposure HD photography I see. I want wallpaper I’ll let Fire TV go random.


Outlook because I’ve used it so long, I don’t know any better. And there’s no two-step BS between it and Windows or Apple either on desktop or iOS. No cloud BS. I plug my phone in, update my contacts and every device I use knows about it. Back it up once in while. Done.

Curious what other hoppers use? Check it out here

Published by

Phil Huston


13 thoughts on “NVDT #77 – Make It Easy On Yourself”

  1. It seems people either love or hate Scrivener and there’s no middle ground. I can’t comment since I’ve never used it. (But your enthusiastic support makes me curious.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think because I see the similarities between audio/music software and the beauty of Scrivener for writing. Particularly the presentation and non destructive/non linear and linear editing abilities. I can see a song presented in its component parts and move those components around at will, still keeping my eye on the complete time line. Drop this clip for transition, move it if I don’t like it etc. Scrivener is the same. I can have an entire work visible at the component (scene and chapter) level and make decisions about this bit is overkill and goes on forever, here’s a giant hole between this and that event, the dynamite needs to come in sooner… any decision can be made and nothing is cut or pasted or moved in a Word doc to be cut and pasted again. Drag the dynamite chapter up to where you think it should be, drag the extended character exposure lunch into the temp file until you need it or decide against it or edit it down. And every scene maintains a unique clip identity waiting for a rewrite to put vaseline on the seams if need be. And if you change your mind that transition vaseline can be a unique clip as well. Plus. if you forget a character’s name you can click on the character folder. Forget which county you’re writing about? Right there. What kind of plane, train, automobile? Scrivener is a self contained WIP environment with the operator as the only limiting variable. Now it won’t keep anyone from writing shit, but it will keep shit well organized.


  2. I can see the attraction of Scrivener, I tried it and it just doesn’t suit the way I get the information. I don’t need all those functions, why learn to use them? I just want something to turn what I see in my head to words on a page.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Getting the information and getting it on the page is the easy part. Scrivener is there for the dirty work, like editing the freebies we are given. There’s a great quote out there from Richard Bach – Argue for your limitations and they are yours. Days like this remind me its not ink or goose feathers or numbers screaming around on silicon that connects the story to the page. My whole point with Scrivener is it’s the same thing we already know how to use, with a far more productive interface. If you can format a page in Word, so as well in Scrivener. Only Word will never give you a truly workable presentation of your project. But hey, whatever’s the shortest distance from your head to the playback button is what’s best for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Scrivener is the easiest way I’ve found to write/assemble any document of reasonable length from cookbooks, academic treatises to fiction and screenplyas. I think the screen play people have some other viable choices, but for the money and the power and the housekeeping you can’t beat it for $50. Catch it on sale for $29 and it feels like burglary.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Spend 10 minutes trying instead of giving up because it’s “different” and you’ll be hooked. Here’s your book down the left-hand side. Your whole book in one place.


  4. Scrivener have an online collaboration mode yet?
    Is that the outlook.exe (old office / rented office) or outlook.com O365 version? We used to call it Lookout when we had to use it with Exchange — oy! What a PITA that combo was. The hosted versions have gotten much better, I’ll admit. Calendaring, conference room scheduling, and the sharepoint/MSTeams integration has come a long way. But ease of cloud-email is a no brainer.
    I still use a version of Photoshop 5.0 from 2003.
    Of course my favorite piece of software is Visual Studio. Now I’m stuck using IntelliJ or VSCode (which are crazy good for web languages, I must say, but I still love my VS).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Collab on Scrivener would amount to sharing the file through the free Dropbox app. DB simply because Google and OneDrive are too damn slow with multiple files\ changes inside a container, if they recognize them at all. I use Outlook in O365 on all my devices. I got used to it back in the early daze when it was standalone and buggy but it had enough contacts loaded in that I didn’t want to lose or two or three step into a webmail system. now it works with Exchange and am I ever glad POP has all but vanished. I gave up on Photoshop for good around 2004. It took a while for PSP to get their plugins sorted and a lot of that Adobe shit to hit the 20 year wall. I still like Adobe but they have a serious case of GPS and everyone and their dog has cloned their stable. I’m so old I took a Java class in maybe the mid to late 90s? Too much like work. Hasn’t VS hit that 20 year wall? MS wants $45 a month but there’s some open source VS code out there. Only ever used it once back in 2k. I say that. A guy who knew how to run it and I put together a functional mockup of a physically modeled piano.

      Liked by 1 person

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