A Great Organization, Research, and Writing Tool

Word cloud relating to postIt’s been a busy week, with another trip to the edge of the Everglades.  Business travel and competing responsibilities sometimes encroach on my precious study time. The year ahead looks like it is getting a bit busier professionally. Although it would be absolutely fabulous to have only my classes to concentrate on in the last year of my degree it is helpful to look ahead and plan how professional or personal interests might intersect with studying. I’ll be spending more time in the library for my work projects, which is a very helpful coincidence. I will also be doing a lot more writing professionally which is a welcome way to develop writing skills.   But doing more does not necessarily mean doing it all well or that doing more work will be a pleasant experience.

There is an old adage in the restaurant industry that goes something like this:  You might think you have been in the restaurant business for 20 years, but in reality you have been in business for one year and then repeated the same mistakes for the next 19.’  When I set out to make a new study plan, or begin a long and complicated project, that admonition is valuable to consider.   Finding a tool to help with organization, efficiency, and revision seemed like a really good idea.

For the last few weeks I have tried a few software tools to help facilitate my organization, research, writing, and revision process for professional projects.  I found Scrivener, from Literature and Latte. It is a super tool that is really helping with all of my goals.  It organizes research, helps me transition to a one hundred percent digital work process, makes revising easy, and simplifies searching notes for relevant points.

Scrivener screen grabWorking in a totally digital format is a big goal this year. More research for my classes means I would need a minimum of 12 four-inch binders to hold my work, which can be cumbersome.  That does not include the paper trail for my professional projects.  Scrivener lets me manage multiple projects with great features.

One thing the software does is summarize each page with a digital index card. It also allows me to assign searchable key words to every page of notes. This is very, very helpful for me. I can attach comments and footnotes in my research as well as in outlines and the finished papers. These features are hugely helpful when revising a paper.

Those reasons alone are fantastic reasons for using Scrivener. Another big reason is ease of editing. The outline feature helps me plan and evaluate how I am developing an argument in my document as it progresses.

Scrivener is a software for writing long texts like dissertations, or creative texts like novels and screenplays. You can choose the format in which you want to write and the pages layout according to professional standards.  In the USA most graduate schools require a substantial paper to be presented as part of the application process. Post graduate programs in creative writing require manuscripts as part of the application process. This year I want to produce both and be more focused in my study process and more efficient at work.

The Scrivener tool costs about $40 USD. I compared it to some open source tools like Storybook, but for me the features it contains are worth the cost. It’s available in MAC and Windows versions. You can try it free of charge for thirty days. Download Scrivener at the Literature and Lattes website.

Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes.

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