Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tools of the Trade

As a follow up to last week's post, I haven’t used Scrivener since November. Why? Because that’s not my process.

When I downloaded the trial, I was dealing with the holidays, and preparing a new release, and a new audiobook. I’m used to managing multiple priorities, so those things, in and of themselves, wouldn’t normally push me over the edge. The final straw was pulled when I lost “my person,” a family member I was closest to.

You’ve probably seen those drug ads on television.  In particular, I’m thinking of one that is used to combat depression, and one of the symptoms is loss of focus. No, I’m not advocating (or using) said drugs, but profound sadness absolutely screws with your focus, and that’s the point I’d reached with my work in process.

Going to take one more side trip before I circle back to the topic at hand…

My editor supplies me with a contract before we start work. She gives me dates, and for all the books she’s done for me, she hits every one of them. Sometimes it’s midnight of the day her edits are due back, but they come back on schedule. I hired a different editor for one of my books, and her process wasn’t quite as “professional.” She quoted approximate dates, in case “life events get in the way.” Now, I get life events. I completely get life events. But can you imagine me going to work and saying I want to build more days into my deadline because “life events?” Missing that deadline because “life events?” While I enjoyed working with that editor, I went back to the editor I knew and was comfortable with, because I want someone who will be held accountable. Does that mean she can’t be a day or three late if the worst should happen? Absolutely not. But that should be an exception rather than something that’s expected. Writing "life events" into a contract feels more like “in case I oversleep one day.”

So, back to the topic at hand. In spite of life events, I still have a job to do, and when life events throw me for a loop, I have to find a way to keep on track. Keep working. That’s where Scrivener came in handy during the “mourning period.” It organized my scattered thoughts. Gave me a way to think when thinking was too difficult.

For writers who struggle, there are tools out there to help. Grammar checkers. SPELL CHECKERS. Redundancy checkers. Programs that can pick up the slack where someone has a weakness. Even if you use the programs as a temporary crutch to get you over the hump, or a safety net, they are available to give you a boost when you need it.

So, back to Scrivener. As I said, it was helpful while I was stuck—when life events were overwhelming—but I have my own processes when I write. If you don’t have processes or systems in place, Scrivener is very helpful. For me, I’m glad to have had it for a crutch when I was struggling, but now that life is on a less bumpy course, I’m comfortable doing things “my way” again.


  1. Knowing that processes can change, even temporarily, that nothing is "the ONLY way" helps when unexpected interruptions throw us off course.