Archive for January 6th, 2008

Scrivener! Hallelujah!

The cold’s slacked off. I swear I took this before I saw RMJ’s gorgeous pictures….

Today the gods and saints and dustmotes smiled upon me and, some lyrical writing by Virginia Heffernan in the NYTimes pointed me to the fine text-generation program Scrivener. [Download it here for a 30-day free trial. Sorry you poor PC people, this is a Mac-only program….]

For years I’ve sought to escape the tyranny of Word, just like Heffernan. JCB got me to try Pages, but two things sent me back to The Evil Microsoft Product:

  • 1) I love being able to type in something simple like “sp” and have the autocorrect function do the heavy lifting of making those two simple letters into a Big Word I type perhaps too often: “sociopolitical” (and a long list of other examples—“nv” becomes Nochixtlán Valley complete with accent, and “bofm” becomes Basin of Mexico—it’s particularly useful for place names!), and
  • 2) Endnote. I use this program to keep track of references and store all my notes; it easily links to PDFs, too. From special entries you make in the [Word] text, it makes a bibliography that needs highly irritating but relatively minor editing (it is annoying, but still better than other software I’ve tried) to standardize into the proper format.

Then JCB figured out some way to make Pages do the autocorrect thing and I had to rethink (again) my Endnote addiction. But I still found myself in its grip.

Now in one simple sunny Sunday I’m a Scrivener convert. It’s superior for generating text while keeping assorted supporting materials in my visual field—if I want them! After the text is generated (late this spring, I hope; keep your fingers crossed!) I anticipate returning to Word to flex Endnote’s power, and then using Word or using Pages for the final layout, but I think Scrivener helps significantly with generating the kind of document I’m working on. I love Scrivener’s interactive outline & superoutline functions, which the program calls Outliner and Corkboard. In short, the program effectively uses the power of Cocoa to display multiple editable views simultaneously.

For now, I’m going to use Scrivener on this chapter that’s been confounding me, inserting Endnote-renderable asides when necessary, and utilizing the creative support of my New Friend to avoid the straight jacket effects of the other W.

BTW…

…wasn’t that a supremely special moment last night when all the Presidential candidates were on the stage together at Saint Anselm College between the two debates, mixing and chatting (picture or NYT story); I even saw a few hugs!