If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

 by JT Ellison

 

 

I had to make an executive decision about my writing this week. As I’ve discussed here before, I switched from Word to Scrivener, and tried writing my 6th book in it. Things went well up to a point, but in the end I caved and went back to Word.

Then I went to Pages. Then back to Scrivener. Then back to Pages. Then back to Word. When we started revisions, I needed to restructure a few things, and I cursed myself, because if I’d stuck with Scrivener, it would have been so easy to just drag and drop to reorder the scenes…

I spent days pulling my hair out because I couldn’t figure out the most effective tool to use for my writing.

In other words, I was royally screwing around with my process.

I got the book done on time, and all was well. But for book the 7th, I decided that come hell or high water, I was going to write the whole thing in Scrivener. I started the outline, populated the character lists, dropped in research, even started a book journal. Looking back over that journal, there is a consistent theme – this isn’t working. Oh, I couched it in all kinds of different terms – Taylor isn’t speaking to me, the story isn’t holding up, I’ve been swamped with THE IMMORTALS book release – but what it really says is Scrivener is messing with how you write, drop it and go back to Word. NOW.

We all have different ways up the mountain. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is finding another method that sounds cool, trying it, and suddenly finding themselves blocked because something isn’t right, something isn’t working. I daresay that with seven novels under my belt, people wouldn’t categorize me as a new author, but sometimes I feel like just that, a newbie who’s trying to find her way.

 The joy of connecting with our fellow writers, with writing blogs and conferences and Tweets and books on writing etc., is finding out that everyone has a different way of doing things. I used to be intractable about my process. Open a Word Document. Put in the header. Start writing at Chapter One, and finish at Chapter Last. Plug away every day, 1,0000 words at a time, and poof, solid first draft in a few months. Then I started meeting other writers and hearing how they do it. I tried shaking things up. And boy, oh boy, was that a mistake.

When you’re thinking about your method, you aren’t writing.

And when you aren’t writing, you’re going to have serious problems. Because if you’re not writing, you just might be thinking about how to fix your method again. Cue roiling circle of hell.

I spent months telling myself that if I just tried harder with Scrivener, learned more about it, figured out all its little quirks that I’d be able to whip the manuscript into shape. Guess what? That’s not the case. There’s nothing I can do in Scrivener to make the software adapt itself to how my head tells a story. If I had only figured that out months ago instead of agonizing over the process, I’d be done with the book by now.

(Note: that’s the kind of thought process that starts its own roiling circle of hell in your head, whilst you beat yourself up for being stoopid. Stop that immediately. Pronounce Immediately with upper class British accent for maximum effectiveness – im-MEE-dgiat-ly)

The writing’s been on the wall for a while now, but I am loathe to admit defeat in any form, so I’ve been slogging away at it, hopeful that things will come together. Being mean to myself, taunting my fragile psyche with nastiness: Writers write. That’s what they do. Your equipment doesn’t matter, it’s just getting words on the page. You aren’t much of a writer if software is messing with your game. You suck. Etcetera.

But is that really true? Does the equipment matter? I know in golf it does. I was recently gifted with a heavenly driver, a Calloway Diablo Edge. This is a sweet club. It’s beautiful, like a newborn, all black and red and sexy. I paraded it in my bag proudly. But every time I hit the thing, it either sprayed off to the right or dropped well short of my usual spots. I tried all my tricks, but nothing worked. No matter what I did, I couldn’t hit it as far as I hit my current driver, a 460cc offset King Cobra 10 degree. Finally, I admitted defeat, went back to my Cobra and gave the club to my father, who promptly took it for a test drive, hit it straight as an arrow down the middle, with extra distance. What didn’t work for me worked perfectly for him.

But did that convince me? No. Physical prowess and mental acuity are two different things, right?

But then I took a large chunk of work to my critique group last week. As I was reading it aloud, multiple typos were springing up. Frustrating, and embarrassing – my group knows my weaknesses, but this level of mess isn’t normal. I’d read this all the material. I’d edited it. Yet I’d missed a ton of errors. Why? I was editing in Scrivener. Which doesn’t have the same kind of grammar and spell check system that Word has, which means my dyslexic typing skills were being hidden in the program. So now I had physical proof that the program was causing me double the effort, because I had to go back and fix all the stuff that Word would have automatically fixed for me. Grr.

I’ve also been having a terrible time keeping track of where I am in the story. Pacing is vital to a thriller, as is story structure and narrative flow. I wasn’t getting that in Scrivener, I was seeing the story as a whole broken into multitudes of scenes (I used Scriv to outline this one… another mistake. I get B.O.R.E.D. when I know what’s going to happen.) I figured that’s been my problem all along, this inability to get excited, when in fact it’s simply that I had no idea where I was in the story.

But the final straw came when Apple released Word 2011 for Mac. It is a glorious program, much more like what I used on my Vaio. I nearly cried when I saw the editing tools, and the beautiful floating screen that blocks all distractions, and the ease of reading two pages at once. I spent two hours moving everything out of Scrivener and back into Word, saw how many actual manuscript pages I have, knew where the transitions needed to go, and suddenly, I’m back working on a book like I should be.

Phew.

I bring all this up because NaNoWriMo starts Monday, and Scrivener for Windows is just releasing, and the Scrivener 2.0 is releasing for Mac. I’ll probably buy the upgrade, just to see. I don’t want to turn anyone off of Scrivener, I know a bunch of writers whom I greatly respect who couldn’t write without it, and it’s a terribly cool program. But I’ve finally realized that my brain doesn’t work in segments, and never will.

Now maybe I’ll be able to make my deadline.

Have you ever tried to force your square peg self into a round hole? What was the result?

Wine of the Week: Bodegas Montecillo Crianza

Please bear with me if I’m slow to respond this morning – darling husband is having his wisdom teeth out. Send ice cream! And lots of Percocet.

44 thoughts on “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

  1. Shizuka

    I'm unorganized in writing and in life, so Scrivener seemed made for me.
    Turns out that I hate the way the pages display and print out, reshuffling scenes only leaves me confused (I like to do it physically with print outs), and the spell check/grammar tools were wimpy.
    It took me a few weeks to give up on it.

    My mind doesn't organize the way Scrivener does; using it was like trying to file according to my secretary's needs.

  2. Zoรซ Sharp

    Hi JT

    First of all, please pass on my best to Randy. I had my wisdom teeth out years ago, which had to be done in hospital under general anaesthetic, and was not a pleasant experience. Give him a (gentle) hug from me.

    I think in pencil on paper, and although I've tried doing things on screen, when I'm stuck I revert to pencil and paper, and that seems to work for me. I even reuse the blank side of old mss pages, so it's kinda environmentally friendly, and then I shred the double-used pages and take them to the recycling centre.

    I'm just taking my first wobbly steps at writing in Word at the moment. I know, I know, I'm a gazillion years behind the times. I've always used Lotus Word Pro and loved it, but now that copyedits keep arriving with Track Changes in Word docs, I've had to bite the bullet.

    Don't tell me that Word 2011 is out, I'm only just getting the hang of the last upgrade!

  3. J.D. Rhoades

    Scrivener for Windows, eh? Interesting…I may have to give it a try, as I'm apparently the last remaining Windows/OpenOffice/Word 2003 holdout. (See "if it ain't broke", above). I've started paying more attention to things like 3 Act structure,especially in the last one, but I don't know if it's helping.

  4. J.D. Rhoades

    PS Best to Randy…he may not have as bad a time as a lot of people report. I was told "Oh my God, you're going to be in agony, your cheeks are going to swell up till you look like a chipmunk." Etc. I didn't have any of those things. Oh, I was sore, and I bled like a stuck pig for a day and a half (that was kinda gross), but no swelling, no horrifying God-God-kill-me-now kind of pain. I did, however, find general anesthetic a profoundly disturbing experience.

    Hope his goes smoothly.

  5. Chuck

    Please tell Randy I was fortunate enough to be born without wisdom teeth. On second thought…don't tell him that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, hope it goes smooth for him.

    Equipment certainly counts in some activities. War is one that comes to mind. Ask the first man who stared down the working end of a machine gun. But, in relation to your golfing story, a few years back I spent $2k+ on my new mountain bike. Oh so sweet and constructed of carbon fiber, I should have rocketed up the mountain, right? Uh, no. I could've saved my money and simply lost two pounds. Live and learn, right?

    I remember this year, at TF, when we were listening to one of the heavyweight panels giving tips. One of them pretty harshly bashed crit groups. I recall your reaction, as do several others around us. ๐Ÿ™‚

    In the end, you can fell a tree by many methods. Saw. Axe. Hatchet. Grenade. Whatever works best for you.

    Happy Friday! Hang in there Randy.

  6. billie

    Good thoughts for Randy and thanks for the new Word 2011 for Mac review. I was just looking at it yesterday and wondering if I should spring for it.

    I think we are all "new" when we begin a new book. There is (for me) a period of time when the new one is starting to come together, even before I start writing, where it feels like the process has a life of its own, and I'm best served to stay out of it. That part feels magical, and each time I go through it (I'm in it right now) I marvel at how a lot of unconscious material seems to coalesce with my conscious thoughts about what I want to write, and what comes from all that is a setting, a conflict, characters, and the new road I'll be traveling for a good long while as I write.

    I'm in the midst of putting all 5 of my completed books onto Kindle, and trying hard to hold off on starting this new project until the Kindling is done – I'm glad to be taking this route with the books, but otoh, I now understand why it takes so long from sale to publication. Lots of work.

    I am really hankering for the feel of having just ONE thing to work on again after these years of so many projects in my hands.

  7. Eika

    Give Randy my regards. I had my wisdom teeth out over a year ago; it is not fun.

    Personally, I use Open Office. That's partly because I can't afford the newest Word versions, but more than that, I don't like them. They changed the menu things, changed how things are organized, and now I can't find anything. And, while I know the shortcuts for italics and bold and such, every time I use a school computer I just get confused.

    I tried Scrivener once. It confuses me.

  8. Mary Arrrr

    I love my Scrivener! But… I basically use it as SuperWord. My biggest problem in Word/Windows was keeping track of all the different files. Scrivener lets me keep them all in one place. Brilliant!

    Research is all my research documents, pdfs, weblinks, scans, notes, my own pre-writing and character notes. I also throw in a journal of the project process and a goals page.

    My first draft is just one document per chapter. The notes page is a revision to-do list. I don't really touch all the bells and whistles until revisions. Then the characters and locations can get tracked. I find it a good way to non-judgmentally look at things.

    Tools have to support your working method. Organizing a large project and keeping it going without losing momentum is my biggest weakness. I find Scrivener helps with that. But the writing process is much the same as when I was using Word, it's just that everything is now in the Scrivener corral.

    And good on you for the ice cream. When I had my wisdom teeth out, my folks served pizza for dinner.

  9. Tammy Cravit

    On the one hand, there's absolutely no question that the tools you pick have to work for you. Scrivener happens to work well for me because I'm the kind of person who doesn't have trouble seeing the forest for the trees. In fact, my problem is exactly the reverse – I sometimes get a crystal clear picture of the forest, but can't for the life of me find the next tree. I'm good at keeping the big picture clear in my head (a useful talent in some contexts), and so the fact that my writing is broken up into scene-sized chunks is a good thing. If that's not the way you work, then that's not the way you work. (Though, I suppose you could still use Scrivener and just keep all your writing in one big file rather than chunking it up.)

    On the other hand, I am reminded that Scott McNealy, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems (the people who invented Java, among other things) once famously mocked fancy WYSIWYG word processing behemoths like Word with the comment that "unformatted plain text is a far richer medium than most of us deserve." I've always looked at this as a reminder that all the nice bells and whistles are no substitute for the actual content you're producing, and to that end, you have to pick the tool least likely to get in your way.

    One thing I noticed (which impresses me) is that the developer of Scrivener acknowledges on the site that his way of working doesn't work for everyone and provides links to other word processing packages for people who find Scrivener ineffective for them.

  10. Gar Haywood

    Hey, JT:

    First off, if you have time to play golf, there is DEFINITELY something wrong with your process.

    Newbies have to try different things to find their comfort zone — the hardware/software combination that feels best to them and allows them to get the most work out the fastest. Once you find that combination (pen & paper, typewriter & Wite Out, laptop & Word 2007, etc.), messing around trying to improve it is just a time waster. It's fun to play around with new bells and whistles, but nobody's paying us to have fun — they're paying us to WRITE.

    I use Windows boxes and Word, and am comfortable doing so. But on those rare occasions I daydream about shifting to a different process, curiously enough, I think about going BACKWARDS in time, rather than forward. A portable manual typewriter and a box of 20 lb. white bond… Doesn't that sound romantic?

    But it would take me 33 months to finish a 400 page manuscript that way.

    Oh, well.

    Best to Randy.

  11. Louise Ure

    Glad to hear about the arrival of Word 2011. But the thing that really made my day is your "math question for engineers" illustration. Here it is.

  12. JT Ellison

    Hi folks,

    Just a quick check in – Randy is fine. I just got a first hand view of what life would be like if he were to become a vampire. Thanks so much for all the well wishes – I'll be back this afternoon to chat with y'all!

    xo

  13. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Luckily I'm too much of a technophobe to try new software. I'd still really rather write longhand, and do whenever it's practical. Keep it simple.

    Glad Randy is through the worst! Poor thing.

  14. Debbie

    Anything I can teach myself works but when it comes to creative process, you have to be comfortable. If creativity and the flow are stifled by the learning curve, or the process itself, move on or back to what works.
    Wisdom teeth: discovered baby food bananas were not as good as I remembered. Neither are Farley cookies. Had some lovely bruises that I could line my fingers up with perfectly as though putting a death grip on my own face! Hope Randy fares better.

  15. Dana King

    Your adventures describe well why I am still a hunt and peck typist. I never needed to type much until I was in my mid to late thirties. By that time, I'd gotten pretty good at hunting and packing. (35-40 wpm) This was always plenty good enough for a trumpet player, but it's slow for an IT person/writer. So I decided to learn how to touch type, and bought the most acclaimed software program. Screwed me up royally. Even slowed down my hunting and pecking ability. I found myself thinking about typing, instead of thinking about writing. So I dumped the whole touch typing thing and learned how to make slow typing a virtue when writing. I'm much happier.

  16. Debbie

    Question for Scrivener users:
    I use MS Word. I save my files in folders. First Draft is broken down into the books working title1, working title2…. I could do this by scene, by chapter, whatever works but the file gets progressively longer with each update allowing me to know my page and word count.

    It works something like this: Open the folder Novels and subcategories (more folders) are revealed. These folders would be the book titles and when opened, new folders would appear such as: Characters; Plot points/Summary; First Draft (which opens to show what I've shared above); Revisions (similar to above but this process begins when the book is complete and expands as above); research; scenes; writing journal…

    The question: Am I organizing in a Scrivener kind of way within Word? Would this help current word users or does everyone already do this and Scrivener makes the organization easier/simpler/more detailed?

  17. JT Ellison

    Shizuka, that's how I felt too – confused. The separate files are super for research and planning, but when it comes to writing, I need cohesiveness.

    Zoรซ, thanks so much for the wishes. He's asleep, a state in which I intend to keep him as long as possible. He had general, and he seems to be doing really well. Tomorrow will be the worst, but he's a toughie.

    I've also started going back to paper for planning and such. It's easier. I like the fun programs, but an excel spreadsheet for planning (thanks to our Brett for that idea) and my Quo Vadis planner seem to be more than enough. I keep my calendar online, but that's an OCD thing – I don't like to mark things out, and with the electronic calendar, if there's a change I can fix it with one click instead of scratching it out.

  18. JT Ellison

    Dusty, your profoundly disturbing experience – I see a blog post coming… He isn't cogent enough to really tell me about it yet, but he got confunded on the way home and I had to do everything not to laugh.

    Scrivener is slick. If you story board, use 3×5 cards, anything like that, you will love it. It's a beautiful interface, with unbelievable power. And you never have to hit save, it saves everything automatically. I absolutely recommend it – it seems like just like some of us outline and some of us don't, some of us see things in sections and some don't.

  19. Dudley Forster

    Glad Randy is doing well. I had all my wisdom teeth out before I was 19 and must have suppressed any bad memories.

    Nice to know someone else suffers from dyslexic typing. My biggest problem is โ€œfromโ€ and โ€œformโ€. Spellchecker is no help their either. I have been waiting a long time for Scrivener for Windows. I was contemplating buy a Mac just so I run it. I used Word for a long time, but I had all these files and folders with scenes, characters, research etc. I also find some of Wordโ€™s tools irritating. Spell check is fine, though autocorrect can lead to trouble. The grammar checker is wrong as many times it is right and seems to have a love affair with semicolons.

    I have been using PageFour, which is a poor manโ€™s Scrivener. I have downloaded the Scrivener Windows beta version, and while there a number of features not yet implemented I am going to use it for NaNoWriMo. The corkboard and ability to import research into the program is fantastic. Will I continue to use it, I have no idea, but Iโ€™m going to give it a through test run.

    Like everyone else here, I think you have to find what works for you. For example, I could never write out longhand. Iโ€™d go nuts trying figure out what I had written last week. Up until this latest release of Word for the Mac it was my understanding the program was not very good. Hopefully Word will really work for you. There is a cool plug-in for Word called Writing Outliner that puts Scrivener like options into Word. Unfortunately, it is currently Windows only.

    Alex – I am surprised you have not used Scrivener. It would seem to fit perfectly with your writing method. When you were writing scripts, did you use Final Draft?

  20. JT Ellison

    Chuck, you're absolutely right. Find whatever works, then do it.

    I think that does go the same for critique groups as well. Mine is made of of dear friends who I'd trust with my life. You have to find something special for it to work.

  21. JT Ellison

    Billie, thank you! I'm so happy to hear that you're getting your work out there! Good for you!
    I really, really like this new Word for Mac. It's pretty, and scalable, and everything is logical and placed int the right spots.

    It's funny that you bring up the subconscious – I haven't had as much of that revelatory rereading as I normally do. I wonder what else I've retarded?

  22. JT Ellison

    Eika – thank you for the wishes. Randy too hasn't been pleased with the changes in Word to this ribbon – they did it with Excel and PowerPoint too. He points out that it was designed by a woman – to which I rely – EXACTLY. That's why I love it. It makes sense… : )

  23. JT Ellison

    Mary, I can totally understand that. The multiple files can get to be too much. One of the beautiful things about the Mac is the ease of using Spotlight to search out files. I also have a very specific filing system, with folder inside of folders all segmented out. So my Finder is one of my biggest, most robust writing tools.

    I'm liking the idea of the science versus the art with all of this – use Scriv to set the book, use Word to write it. Hmm….

  24. JT Ellison

    Tammy, excellent points, all. I wonder if I hadn't come from Word, been a devoted PC user for 20 years, if I would have adapted better? I turned my editor on to Scriv because I knew his head worked like that, and he's been in heaven since.

  25. JT Ellison

    Gar, that's it exactly! We're being paid to write, not process about writing. In the end, the finished manuscript is all that matters.

    If I didn't golf, I'd never see the outdoors. : )

  26. JT Ellison

    Alex, I like longhand too, but I type faster than I write, and my ideas go straight from my head to the keyboard. It's weird. I almost get bored writing (and after the wrist surgery 2 years ago, my hand starts to ache after about three legal pad pages. How sad is that?)

  27. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Firstly, I LOVE that "Find X" cartoon. That's my kind of humor.
    Secondolily, it's great to hear that I'm not missing anything by not using any of the fancy writing tools. I do as you do…open a new Word file, type my title and name, begin sentence one. If I want to keep track of how many words I write in a day (and I usually don't) then I highlight the words and look at the word count. I'm frightenly simplistic when it comes to this stuff. I often forget the names of my characters or how to spell them, and I have to look back on some previous page to figure it out. It's pathetic, actually. But, as you said, I don't want distractions, and I don't want to be having to figure out what this button does, what this keystroke will provide.
    The wierd thing is that my final page count for Boulevard is 335, and my final page count for Beat is 336. This was not planned. So, there's a ticking clock in my head somewhere that tells me how long a thriller should be. I don't need a computer program to tell me what I need to be doing.

  28. JT Ellison

    Debbie, I can't wait to see his bruises. He's such a delicate English flower….

    Dana, I can't touch type the way I'd like. Typing class in high school wasn't my favorite, and I still look at the keyboard. But I use at least four fingers on my left and three on my right, and I can rock it when I'm not thinking about it.

    Debbie, yes. You would definitely benefit from Scrivener. Anyone who writes each chapter as a separate file would as well.

    Dudley, I too am surprised Alex doesn't use Scrivener, considering the screenwriter background. It has it's own version or First draft written in. You will love it. And good luck with NaNo!

  29. Kath

    I've been drooling over the idea of Scrivner for Windows for ages, but I work with a collaborator so we have to be on the same process … or at least use the same file types and filing systems. We're pretty much wed to Word, but II may have to pick up Scrivner simply to see.

    Thanks for the review.

  30. Allison Brennan

    Don't mess with the process.

    It's why I write in Word, 12 pt, courier, double spaced, 25 lines/page. I've tried changing. It messes me up every single time.

    However, I have Scrivener and have attempted to use it several times, but always export before I'm done with the first act. I do like the index cards, however, now that I figured out how to use them. When I'm DONE with the book, I put each scene on an index card in Scrivener and color code them so I can see the book as a whole. Then I take notes on where I see holes in character or suspense and then start revisions.

    Well, I've done it once. I'll see if I can do it again.

  31. Perry Wilson

    Changing process is a bright shiny object. I keep coming back to Word as my favorite writing program but I tend to be more adventurous in my prep work toys.

    I currently us excel and onenote for plotting and character development. I'm looking forward to giving Scrivener for windows a try when it comes out.

  32. Spencer Seidel

    I loved this post because I can totally relate. Writing novels is hard, and everyone does it differently. And that's great. Once you start listening to how other people do it, especially if they are aggressive about their brand of "writing rules" or whatever, the little voices of self-doubt start creeping in. Yuck.

    I've written 2 complete novels using Scrivener, so it's now part of my process. The killer app part of it for me is being able to compile drafts from multiple files while applying formatting globally (i.e. to ALL files). I love that. Another thing I found is that I'm less distracted by formatting when I'm writing in Scrivener. If I write in Word, I suddenly start worrying about silly formatting things because I want the document to look nice, even though it's just a stupid draft!

  33. Reine (Marie-Reine)

    JT, I'm stuck on Word- not so much that I actually love it or anything, just that when I started writing my senior paper, all those years ago, my advisor's PC couldn't handle MacWrite. Anyone remember that one? Then I started giving presentations of my research, and all submissions had to be on Word with just the right font and all. As fancy as I dare to get is using "page breaks." I tried using "sections" for chapters, but they interrupt the flow for me. Tried the outlining function. Forget it. I'm not an outliner.

    JD, I wish I were still on Word 2003! I upgraded to 2004 and have regretted it ever since. I always hate when a new version comes out because, to me at least, it's like learning a whole new program. One day I'll have to get a new MacBook, and that will force me into a new Word program.

  34. pari noskin taichert

    First: If Randy likes citrus or yogurt, have him avoid them for about a week until he's healed. Believe me, it's worth the wait — I know from first hand experience.

    As to process and equipment and and and . . .
    I've tried to force myself into all kinds of methods and a few programs too. None work. I just write and then deal with what I've got later.

  35. KDJames

    OMG, JT. THANK YOU for this post. I did the same exact thing with Scrivener. I couldn't wait to try it and it was one of the first things I downloaded when I got a MacBook. I love new software. I love playing around with a new program. And Scrivener is SO very cool, it really is. It's an amazing tool for writers.

    It took me way longer than it apparently took you to realize that I simply can not use it. I kept trying (and failing) because I thought it was just an issue of me being inexperienced with writing a full length novel and I'd catch on eventually. In theory, it seemed perfect. It's so damn hard to keep an entire 400 page ms in your head, and this is a great way of breaking it down into manageable pieces. But it completely fragmented and shut down my creativity.

    So instead I created an Excel spreadsheet that's broken down into acts/scenes and contains all the elements Alex uses in her goddamned index cards. Sorry. I hate index cards. I love Alex's method of breaking down structure, she's a freaking genius, but I hate index cards. Seems too much like arts and crafts. I am a resounding failure when it comes to that kind of stuff. But I love my spreadsheet. It lets me see the structure at a glance and I can track different threads and characters by colour. Yes, it's multi-coloured. Really, it's a thing of beauty. Plus it's not covered with cat hair.

    Can't even tell you how relieved I am to hear I'm not the only one for whom Scrivener just doesn't work. Bottom line, you have to find what works for you.

    And I love the "Find X" cartoon. I remember the problems that said "solve for X" and I always wanted to write a note, "X needs to do his homework and figure out how to solve it himself."

  36. Jill James

    JT, no matter how many times we hear it, it is always nice to know there is no 'right' way to write a book. I was all excited when I heard about Scrivener for Windows, but I'm a linear writer. Page 1 Chapter 1 to The End, straight through, no detours. So sounds like Scrivener is not for me.

  37. JT Ellison

    Big apologies for the lengthy silence, I'm having major Internet issues and it's been cutting in and out, wo I've lost too many responses to count.

    Stephen, some of the best advice I got my debut year was from MJ Rose who told me to start a "bible" character names, descriptions and relationships and major plot points. That's really helped me – I keep it all in a Circa and update it with each book, so I can also see if I've used a name before. I'd highly suggest you try that.

    Kath, like I said, for the price, it's well worth looking at. I've also just realized that I need to change the manuscript format back to Times New Roman – might help.

    Allison, I love the idea of coming back to Scrivener after for structure. May have to try that.

    Perry, I've said it many times, I am a magpie. All writers are, I think.

  38. JT Ellison

    Spencer, that's so funny – I think the formatting is part of why I don't work well in Scrivener. It's not easy to do. I'm used to making changes lightning quick, and with Scriv I have to think about it, whichpulls me out of the moment.

    Reine, I've been using Word so long that I have a ton of little tricks and shortcuts – not having them really hurts me.

    Pari, thanks for the advice! He's doing remarkably well.

    KD, I'd love to see some scientist do a study of writers' brains like they do criminals' brains – test us writing, using different software, see what sections light up…

    And my Dad called me last night and said "X=6" I went huh? He said what, you didn't try to solve the problem? Then started talking about hypotenuses whilst I broke out in hives….

  39. JT Ellison

    Jill, see if you can flag someone down and take a look at it – you may love it.

    Cornelia, I bet your head could wrap itself wright around this….

    Stephen, it's humor at it's highest. : )

  40. Lisa Hendrix

    I'm with you on Scrivener, process, and just getting it done. I've tried Scriv, and I'm trying it again for NaNo, but if it doesn't work (and I suspect it won't), I'm back to Word in a heartbeat.

    What I want to know is, why does it matter if we reuse a name now and then? We all know more than one Dave or John or Emily (shoot, my husband was one of 4 Daves in an office of just 9 people), and we don't have trouble keeping track of them in real life. Why do we think our readers will have trouble if there's a Jeremy in Book A and another Jeremy in unrelated Book F?

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