Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Good news, albeit obvious

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It was news to me, at any rate. I’m writing the weight-loss book using Scrivener, which is working quite well since it runs on both Windows (new version in public beta) and on the Mac (original version, which I bought). I keep everything in synch via DropBox.

Scrivener is a great little program, but considerably more complex than a mere word processor. It allows you to write a long work by writing short bits (called “documents”), which you can organize in hierarchical structures and view (and rearrange) on a corkboard, as an outline, or as the text of the individual documents. — Oh, what the heck: just download it from LiteratureAndLatte.com and try it out. You can get a trial version for free, and if you write pieces of any length, it’s terrific. Windows or Mac, it makes no difference.

But I did not at first quite know how to use it, so I ended up with a project with lots of documents written with no real organization, because I hadn’t (a) figured out the software and (b) figured out the book. But you have to leap in if you’re going to learn: that’s how you learn, far as I can tell. (Again: we’re talking practical knowledge here, and that can’t be gained without getting experience, which is the polite term for making lots of beginner mistakes as you play with the capabilities, for it is through play that learning occurs.)

Finally, I realized I had created an enormous pile of unorganized stuff that I couldn’t get my head around, so I stepped back, started a new project, knowing what I then knew, and that went quite well. Pretty soon I was trying to figure out how to get the stuff from that first-draft project into the second. I’ve been worrying about this for a week. If only, I thought, I could have both projects open at once, so I could copy and paste, etc.

Finally, tonight I tried opening the first project and then opening the second project. Duh: of course they both opened, each in its own window. That’s the whole idea of this sort of interface. And, I bet you any money, you can readily move documents from one project to another by drag-and-drop or the like. (I really do need to watch the Scrivener training video, I guess.)

UPDATE: Well, this video certainly demonstrates the limitations (or inefficiency) of relying on play alone to learn something new—it does help to draw on instructional resources. I was committing the error of those who refuse to read chess books, believing that through their own play they can rediscover all that has been found through four centuries of strategic exploration and development.

If you do any writing of documents of any length at all, you owe it to yourself to watch the video and then download and use Scrivener for the 30-day free trial.

(There are other videos on the Scrivener site, including a 10-minute introduction.)

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2011 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Books, Software

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