(And How To Do The Same Thing With Paper If You Like That Better)
When I fell in love with my fiancé, we had dated about 3 months. It was fast, but I fell hard.
After lots of past loves, I had created a checklist of things I was looking for:
#3 Tall and beardy (What can I say… I like ‘em hairy! Haha! In fact, now he’s got a “man bun” and I loooove it!)
#2 Loves me when I’m in sweatpants and my hair is a mess (He showed me this one about 6 months in, but I knew it was in him!)
#1 Won’t get mad at me when I have a panic attack. (You wouldn’t believe the assholes I had dated.) (And my fiancé? He would never get mad about that. Not once. And never will.)
Later, when I fell in love with the writing app Scrivener, it took 1 week, and that was because I was too scared to open it for the first 6 days.
If you’re unfamiliar with Scrivener, it’s an “app” (aka computer program or software. Why is everything an app now?) created by the company Literature and Latte to help writers finish their first drafts.
As it turns out, I had a list of 3 things that I wanted in a writing program, even though I didn’t know they existed.
3) It only keeps track of the words I keep on the page.
If you haven’t heard me talk about how important I think it is you have a shitty first draft, then let me be quick and clear right here and now.
You write shitty first drafts.
So do I. So does everyone. Ok, can we move on now?
The other thing you should be doing? Writing every day.
Here’s the thing I love: it combines both!
Scrivener embraces the shitty first draft as much as your mom does the first time she eats your home made brownies (“MMM…. (turns her head and spits them out) …This is a great first effort honey!)
The way Scrivener does this is it makes you feel better about having the shitty first draft, because it’s helping you complete your word goals.
You can track how many words need to write for the draft of your full project AND how many words you write in each session.
Let’s say you set the goal of writing 200 words for each session, but you delete half of them because they don’t sound right to you.
It only counts as 100.
You have to keep the crap if you want it to count towards 200.
(And it’s not as much crap as you think. Give it at least 24 hours before you delete it. You never know if it’ll help inspire more ideas or sounds better now that you’ve given it a day.)
PEN AND PAPER: If you’re more into writing in a journal, read through past pages of your journal, and figure out the average of how many words you write on a line. Create a word count for yourself, and divide it by the average number of words on a line to find out how many lines you should write each day.
#2 -- Story board, story board, story board
Some people need an outline to get started, others get half way through writing it and need to see what they have.
Still others write the whole thing before they really assess what they've got and if they need everything they’ve written.
No matter what type of writer you are, an outline is an essential part of the process.
And Scrivener uses note cards and cork board to help you keep the illusion of your computer screen being "life-like."
But it does a lot more than that. Every time you create a new page, or folder, Scrivener creates a note card, on a cork board, for that new item.
You can use those note cards for:
Describe what makes two chapters or poem with the same title different
Sketch out memoir ideas that have similar concepts
Write down themes of each poem
Write down basic story outline to make sure you cover what you want to for that character in that chapter
Plus many many more ideas
And, you can see all of them at once, just like a real life cork board. (Ain't that swell?!)
When my thesis instructor kept telling me that my poems and stories weren’t being blended well together, and I kept laying out every piece of paper on the ground of the computer lab, looking at them from on top of a table, staring at them inquisitively… I could have saved lots of trees and lots of weird looks from classmates by using this program!
PEN AND PAPER: This one's pretty obvious: Use actual note cards and cork boards! Sketch out all your ideas on note cards and arrange them on a cork board! (It really is exactly as I described it, but with real life paper and cork for those that prefer a more tactile system!)
#1 For all the times I don’t listen to #3…
Imagine with me if you will… You wrote about 500-800 words towards a new chapter, and after reading back through it, you looked at it and thought, "Nope, I don't like any of it" and you delete the whole document.
Now it's three days later, and you had a phrase in that document that you can’t get out of your head but you can’t remember exactly how it was written and there's no trace of it and now you don't like any of the new stuff you've written and OH MY GOD THE BOOK IS RUINED.
First off, breathe.
Secondly, shame on you.
Thirdly, Scrivener has your back.
At the bottom of your project file is a "trash" bin. (I rename mine "I'm sorry I didn't mean it.")
In other words, every time you go against your better judgement and delete a fresh “new text” page of writing that you “swear” is terrible… It’ll hang out in your trash file so you can come back to it and see if it’s really trash.
Or you actually really love it, and want to pull parts of what you wrote and stick it back in.
Or it’s meant for another project.
No matter the case, Scrivener has your back YO!
PEN AND PAPER: If you INSIST on feeling like you've "gotten rid of something" that's written in your notebook -- cross it out in pencil. That way you know you don't like it, but you can still retrieve it if you need it a few days later.
What do you love about the app Scrivener? What would be on your list of requirements for a writing program? Share with me in the comments below!