My favorite writing tool

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#4 Product of the WeekMarch 13, 2014
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  • Pros: 

    Makes organizing and re-organizing your writing project significantly easier. It's a no-brainer for the price and I haven't looked back.


    The built-in tutorial is comprehensive, but a bit overwhelming. The Windows version is a bit behind the Mac.

    I love Scrivener. I'm less than enthused about the Windows version, but on Mac it's fantastic and windows is getting there.. Wish there were better ways to sync data but Dropbox is decent enough. Better integration with citation software would be nice too.

    Lee Knowlton 🍵 has used this product for one month.


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Nathan BarryHunter@nathanbarry · Founder, ConvertKit
I use Scrivener for all my books and other large writing projects. You can get it 50% off today from AppSumo. Here are a few things I love: 1. Folders and documents inside a project. Once I write an outline for a new book I then create a folder within the project for each chapter, then a document for each section. Then each day I sit down to write I scan through the documents, find one that looks interesting, and start writing. It's so much better than having one long document of an entire book (or even a chapter)! 2. Goals. You can set word count goals for your project and then have it total up all your writing (across documents). So I set a total word count for the project (say 30,000), then add a deadline, and it calculates how many words per day I need to write to hit that deadline. Then throughout the day it tells me how much progress I've made towards today's goal. The number I need to write tomorrow is updated based on how much I wrote today. 3. A single document. I like to split out my project (as mentioned above) into small documents to write each section, but for editing I prefer one long document. This way I can see all the transitions between sections and chapters. It's much easier for editing. ---- Note: I'm not sure if the community prefers to discuss each product only once (meaning I should have linked to the main page), but the discount was just to good not to mention.
Ryan HooverPro@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Excellent overview, @nathanbarry. Here's a link to the Appsumo deal, available for 158 hours and 58 minutes :) I've heard many good things about Scrivener although I find it hard to move away from @natekontny's Draft (,
Mark Bao@markbao · Founder, Ambition
@nathanbarry, thanks for this! I recently started using Scrivener for writing papers and long blog posts, and it's a joy. I've been through a long process of finding the perfect (software) environment for writing on Mac. It seems like there's two distinct categories: — Minimal apps for "just writing" — The best-known contenders here are iA Writer, Byword, and the archaic WriteRoom, and the very zen OmmWriter, plus many web-based ones like @rrhoover recommends. My absolute favorite is Ulysses, which was my choice writing app before I tried Scrivener. It's extremely well built and well-organized, and its syntax for writing (a superset of Markdown) is a good balance between writing and formatting. The downside of these apps are that they aren't a full writing environment, and I usually combine these with outlining on paper or on Scapple, an app that's kinda like mind mapping, but more flexible. — Apps for the entire writing process — In this category, it (necessarily) segments down to type of writing. Final Draft for screenwriting, StoryMill for novels, that sort of thing. Scrivener works well for prose and also pretty well for these other niches. The advantage of these is that you get to organize everything in one place: all your research, notes, webpages, metadata, etc. When you write, it's all available to draw on. I've found that having this all localized is really good when I have to write something that really takes a bunch of structure and research (ex.:; when I'm writing, I can pull up my notes from each document/website I want to refer to and use it. Snapshots and revision diffs are key for not worrying about making revisions; full screen mode works similarly to the zen modes of other apps. Two big downsides: 1) no mobile app, which makes referring to and adding information to these projects difficult when on the go, and 2) it's overkill for one-off blog posts, weekly personal reviews, or anything that doesn't require a ton of research or organization. I'd suggest anyone that does any substantial amount of writing to take a look at all of the available products and give the trials a shot, since I think the writing environment does make a difference on how you write (e.g. easy access to information, non-distracting environment, etc.). Scrivener is a strong choice; Ulysses is best-of-class (in my opinion) for the more minimal writing apps; and the others, including the web-based ones, all have their own qualities as well.
Thomas K. Running@tkrunning · Nomad, Teleport
Like Ryan I really like Draft, but I have been looking for an alternative with offline access (a must for me). Scrivener looks solid, but I'll check out Ulysses as well. Thanks for sharing, @nathanbarry and @markbao!
Ryan HooverPro@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Great discussion. Like Thomas, one of my biggest gripes with Draft is its lack of offline support. I'm sure that somewhere on Nate's to-do list though. :)