I finally got a chance at the very end of the MLA to sit down for coffee with Dave Parry, whom I’d tried but failed to catch up with at several earlier moments of the conference. Among the things we talked about (writing in public, digital scholarly publishing, etc.) was a brief bit of chat about our preferred writing technologies. Dave asked what I’m composing Planned Obsolescence in, and I told him that my initial chapter structures generally get put together as a massive text-editor brain dump, which at some point I import into Pages for finer writing and editing.
Dave mentioned doing a lot of writing in Scrivener, a drafting program I’d written about experimenting with some time back. The conversation made me ask myself why I’d decided not to draft in Scrivener, given how excited I remain about the package — and I never really came up with a good answer.
So I took a morning and imported the draft as it stood into a Scrivener document (or a “binder,” in fact, a cluster of documents and snippets that are working toward a draft), to see whether the interface might actually provide some benefits for the project as it stands.
Thus far, it has: being able to focus in on one section of the text, while maintaining a sense of the relationship between that section and the overall textual structure, works far better for me here than in the endless scrolling word processor window. And, as I mentioned in my last post, given my propensity for writing my way into holes, but my desire to keep writing and fill those holes later, Scrivenings’ annotation tools are quite useful.
Scrivenings is another system, like DEVONthink, that I’m pretty sure I’m not using to the fullest extent of its abilities, as yet, but I’m enjoying the process of figuring out how it can help me envision the structure of a big project, while keeping its bigness from becoming overwhelming.