How Do I Use Scrivener to Manage My Writing?

If you don’t have a system to keep track of your writing, becoming a successful writer will be stressful.

Most writers have some sort of system, whether it’s written on a piece of paper, or tracking clients, deadlines and deliveries with to-do lists and calendars. But, what about keeping track of the work itself?

How Do I Use Scrivener to Manage My Writing?

Most writers have some sort of system.

I’ve become a convert to Scrivener for managing all my writing.

What is Scrivener?

Literature and Latte Scrivener Writing Software
Made by Literature and Latte, Scrivener was originally intended to help writers plan their novels.

But the features that make it a great tool for novel writers also make it a great tool for ALL writers. Sure, I still use a calendar for deadlines, but all my client work now lives in Scrivener.

Scrivener works with projects, folders and documents. The project is an overall file (say, the book you are working on), the folders allow you to arrange information within a project (for example, chapters in a book) and the documents are the text you are writing (like different scenes within a chapter). How does this work for blogging?

Getting Started with Scrivener for Blogging

Inspired by Thaddeus Hunt, I set up a project for my blogging work.

Imaginatively, I called it “2014 blogging work”. I created a folder for each month, and documents for each post I had to work on.

Every time I agreed a client brief, I would put the details into Scrivener, titling each document with the due date, initials for the client and the suggested post title.

And, since I didn’t want to have to leave Scrivener, I also added folders for my personal blogs and for unassigned ideas.

Scrivener automatically includes a folder titled “Research.” This is a good place for storing research that you will re-use.

You can also import web pages as PDFs (they are saved offline), and the import also preserves the web address in case you need it later. The import function is a time-saver if you are likely to use the data you find for more than one article.

It’s worth creating sub-folders to keep your research organized, otherwise it can get a bit messy.

One good way to have an overview of what’s coming up is to use Scrivener’s corkboard view, which has little index cards for each document.

Srivener corkboard

You can type notes on the index cards at any point and those will be there when you go to the full document. Get to the corkboard view by clicking on any folder. Sometimes while you’re researching one topic, you find a useful link for another.

The index card in the corkboard view is a useful place to stash these till you are ready to work on the article.

Creative Uses for Labels and Status

Two more Scrivener features (“label” and “status”) work together to give you more ways to tag your work. I’ve tried two different approaches to this.

In 2014, I created labels for each of my main clients and statuses for where it was in the workflow (first draft, second draft, delivered, invoiced etc).

This year, I have tried using labels for workflow and the status for the key topic the article is about.


The reason is that labels are color coded (statuses are not) so I can see at a glance where an article is in the workflow, from notes to being paid for and live.

I’m still not sure I’ve settled on a final system, but the point is that you can customize both labels and status to suit your writing workflow.

Scrivener has powerful search features, so you can find documents by labels, status and content whenever you search. This is extremely useful when you write a lot. It’s a good way to make sure that you don’t plagiarize yourself or to get inspiration for a piece of writing on a topic you have covered in the past.

Is Scrivener perfect?

The folder organization system is also great. If a client changes a deadline, I just move my draft document from one month to another, using drag and drop.

So, is Scrivener perfect?

Not quite.

To get the most out of it, you have to become familiar with Markdown for formatting. This works with WordPress so most writers will find it useful.

Since I have to deliver content in a range of formats, it’s less useful for me and the process of linking to external content can be cumbersome.

Why I Love Scrivener

That niggle aside, Scrivener is an incredibly rich tool that has revolutionized the organization of my writing business. Plus, it helps keep your work safe.

Not only does it save automatically, but you can set it to back up your project file to Dropbox whenever you save. Documents are saved as Rich Text Format, but you can export them in a range of formats depending on your needs.

In a nutshell, Scrivener rocks because:

  • You can store all your writing and research in one place
  • It streamlines your workflow
  • It’s got awesome search features
  • Backup is automatic

Here are a few articles to help you get more from Scrivener:

Scrivener is a great tool and there’s even more to it than I can cover in this short review. If you have used Scrivener, which feature do you like best?

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger, known for writing well-researched, shareable content. Her work has been published on Crazy Egg, Search Engine People, Business2Community, Growmap and elsewhere. Contact Sharon to hire her to write for you.

Leave a Reply


Hi Sharon, Do you know how to compile Scrivener for a literary agent with double spacing, Times New Roman, Chapter Headings and scene dividers centered, and header with my name, book name, and page number? Thanks, PatReply to Pat
It’s a bit complex, Natalie. I get round it by backing up files to Dropbox then opening them, say on a mobile device, and then syncing them back. The Scrivener files are rich text format so most programs open them.Reply to Sharon
Nice post! I can see the workflow benefits of Scrivener.The only thing that could be better is that I don’t know yet how to work from different devices. I have a laptop and an iPad and would like to switch between them.Reply to Natalie
I really share your enthusiasm for Scrivener! I organized it in a way that I have one folder for whatever I am working on right now, one with ideas (many many many!) and one with the categories I use on my blog where I put the published posts. The only thing that could be better is that I don’t know yet how to work from different devices. I have a laptop and an iPad and would like to switch between them.Reply to Angelika
Yes, that’s a problem, Angelika, because there’s no app yet. I think someone has posted a workaround involving cloud backup, but it seemed too complex to me. I know they’re working on an app, though.Reply to Sharon
Nice post! I can see the workflow benefits of Scrivener, but I currently use another Sass software that allows for group collaboration. But this is definitely a good writing tool for bloggers.Reply to Todd
If you’re working with a team, you probably need both, Todd. I work with clients via Trello.Reply to Sharon
I’ve long used Scrivner to tackle my fiction writing, and more recently I’ve been using it to compile all of my writing from across the web – especially where I’ve done guest posts, so I know exactly what I’ve written, where, and when. I can track trends in my writing and make sure I clean up bad habits before they get dire. I can also compile my ideas into a cohesive sum like an ebook easily. I haven’t thought about using Scrivner pro-actively; it seems a little cumbersome for that when a Google Doc or Notes file will do… but I like this recipe and will certainly give it a try! 😀Reply to Nick
At the moment, I lump guest posts in with the rest of my writing, Nick, but I like your idea (if that’s what you meant) of having a specific folder or project for them). 🙂Reply to Sharon
I haven’t yet jumped on the Scrivener bandwagon but I have it and I WANT to like it 🙂 I never thought of using it the way you mentioned here but given how much blogging I do, it sounds like the organization could be a good thing. Admittedly I’m not a fan of the extra step of dealing with markdown but it looks worth trying for the other reasons you mentioned. Like Cathy, I’ve had this on my desktop for a while but never gotten into it. Inertia, I think – I’m used to Word and with everything else to do, another learning curve is usually not in the master plan! But the folder system is pretty cool, I will have to check that out.Reply to Carol
There’s a lot of good info out there on getting organized, Carol Lynn, and Jenn’s templates are awesome for wrangling different projects. I can’t imagine going back to just Word now.Reply to Sharon
Great post Sharon..I need a better system for sure this was right on time!Reply to Michelle
Glad you found it useful, Michelle.Reply to Sharon
Sharon, thank you for this. I’ve gotten as far as purchasing Scrivener. 😀 I’ve played a little bit with it but need to get serious about using it. Between your and Jenn Mattern’s tutorials, I have no more excuses not to use it. Curses. I hate that. 😉Reply to Cathy
You’ve been telling us you wanted to try Scrivener for a while now, haven’t you Cathy? Out of curiosity, what’s holding you back?Reply to Jenn
I’ll be interested to hear your take on Scrivener when you get around to using it, Cathy.Reply to Sharon
Thanks for mentioning my post Sharon. 🙂 I was initially surprised that I liked Scrivener so much for blogging, but it’s awesome. I have nearly all of my writing moved to it now. The e-book I’m currently finishing up is the last one I’d started in Word. So the transition’s almost complete, and I’m kind of giddy about it. 🙂 I know you already know this Sharon, but for anyone else who it might benefit: One of the only problems I had with using Scrivener for blogging was the fact that there’s no easy way to move your older WordPress content into Scrivener so all of your posts can be archived in the same place. So I had my husband (a developer) put together a plugin that works with WP and Scrivener’s “import and split” feature. It’s almost ready for public release, as soon as I get my lazy rear in gear and run a few more tests (need to test bigger exports, and then I think we’re finished). But that should be available on the WP repository, for free, sooner rather than later. So even if you only plan to use Scrivener for other writing projects, something like that would let you set up a single project file to serve as an offline archive of all of your blog content. I doubt I know know half of Scrivener’s features yet. But I sure love learning more about it. It’s a lifesaver for me, and a big productivity booster. 🙂Reply to Jenn
I’m definitely a Scrivener groupie now, Jenn, and the import and split function of the plugin will be just what most bloggers need. I plan to use that to rearrange all my blog content. Like you, I doubt I’m using half of Scrivener’s features yet, but the journey of discovery is wonderful. 🙂Reply to Sharon
It’s so feature-rich I’d go so far as to say it’s a bit overwhelming at first. But once you push past that, you quickly see how much traditional word processors are lacking. I’m completely in love with it. 🙂Reply to Jenn
Thanks for letting us know Jen! Hey, my husband is also a developer and designer! ElnaReply to Elna