A Virtual Binder


Paper, paper, everywhere!

Early on into this project my ever burgeoning pile of paper filled me with trepidation. Admist those scribblings, there on a scrap of paper on the floor might rest a gem of an idea, a gem that could so easily be accidentally discarded.

Soon I started to type up these ideas as well as the first draft writings onto a pages document, which as the word count increased became harder to navigate. (A quick note for non-apple users: pages is a word-processing programme similar to word.) Quickly I realised the limitations of pages. I ended up with either one long document or I separated the scenes/chapters into different documents. I was now faced with the cumbersome task of opening each document on its own  in its own window. Not ideal.

Furthermore, at no stage could I view the entire document in its entirety without creating yet another document and having to copy and paste from all my other documents. It was time to say thanks and bye to pages for this project. Having served me so well on short stories and normal documents it was just not up to the task.  Surely there must be another option?

To the rescue came Scrivener. A programme created  by a writer, Keith Blount, as he was increasingly frustrated with the limitations of available word-processing programmes for writers.

After watching the ten minute tutorial I felt confident enough to give it a go and have now started using the programme on a 30-day free trial.

My experience so far has been very positive and I’m sure I have only scratched the surface to all of Scrivener’s capabilities.

I started by opening a new project and giving it a name.  On the top left there is a binder and within this all the documents, research papers, etc are kept. By opening a document in draft I was free to add some new writing. The document has full word-processing capabilities such as fonts, colours, set up and the all important word count. I opened a new document for each scene/chapter I had written and then rearranged them in an order that suited me.

As I had written some documents already I transferred these over, although Scrivener for some reason would not accept the pages documents so I had to save them as word first. With each individual document added, I now sorted their order.

One great feature is the possibility  to view all the various documents as one large document with the mere click of a button, giving me the opportunity to read the whole draft seamlessly. Perfect.

Another huge selling point for Scrivener is the cork board. The writer  writes on ‘index cards’ a synopsis of each scene/chapter and when the cork board icon is pressed, they become visible as if posted on a cork board and they too can be arranged to order.

I immediately created another folder, which I labelled  ‘Ideas’, in my binder and after picking up the bits of papers with ideas from my desk and floor, I opened the index carda and on a separate one wrote a synopsis of a scene/chapter. These I then rearranged.

Currently I have ten scenes/chapters fully written and over 25 ideas synopsis others on the cork board, clearly visible and a permanent reminder to me of the way to go.

Furthermore on each document to the bottom right is a document notes section which  I have found useful to add new ideas/changes/additions for the future when rewriting without necessitating a major rewrite yet.

It is possible to split the screen and for instance after taking a snapshot of a document, the writer can have that document visible whilst rewriting it on a new version of the same document.  The split screen is also beneficial as it is possible to view a piece of research whilst writing the document.

This leads me onto the research folder. In here I have placed documents and photos etc which I might need for my writing.

As I have said, I’m finding Scrivener a great help and in a while I’ll let you know if I sign up and pay the $45 fee. At the moment, I feel it is well worth the price.

Once the manuscript is ready for compilation, Scrivener enables the user to compile the book in various formats such as rich text, microsoft word documents, web pages, ebooks or kindle ebook. When I get there, I’ll let you know how easy or difficult it is to use.

The only disadvantage I can see is Scrivener’s inability to link with other devices, such as iPad, through iCloud. This is down to the programme’s multi-layered facility. However it is possible to sync the cork board index cards; although this looked rather time-consuming and not worth the effort. For now, I do not see this as a huge drawback as any documents I write whilst away from the iMac on my iPad can be written on iCloud document and then easily transferred when back at the computer.

So, from paper clutter and pages mania to the calm binder magic of Scrivener.

However, my trusty notebook is never far from my side.


It has to start feeling strongly as if it’s happening and I am not pushing it.

Then I write and rewrite.

Alice Munuro


Word count of first draft on 16th January 2015: 7,970

6 thoughts on “A Virtual Binder

  1. Barbara

    So happy to hear of your progress on the book 🙂
    You are well on your way my dear Well On Your Way!
    So glad you found Scrivener. Sounds like a great writing tool. Keep us posted on your progress. Very interesting and good stuff here.
    I am impressed and very proud of you at the same time.
    You Go Girl 🙂

  2. Miriam Ivarson

    What a wonderful tool you found. Wonder if it would
    help non-authors to get organised too? I love the Cork board
    Bet you still will find your desk full of scribbled notes at times.:)

    1. Annika

      How true! Notes and papers everywhere, but at least not all to do with the writing! I would have a pin board if it a wasn’t for all my bookcases. Such dilemmas.

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