I love the Scrivener tool and have been using it for years in my various writing from creative fiction pieces, work documents, and as a planning tool. It’s basically a word processor and project notebook all in one. Once you start to use it, it’s your go-to tool from then on – trust me!
I work from anywhere and just about on any device whether or not the device has the Scrivener program. It’s called the Sync feature in Scrivener and I’ve been using this technique for almost a year. I needed the flexibility from desktop to iPad or even if the mood hit just right – iPhone. Don’t let all the Scrivener bells and whistles deter you – if you haven’t met the Scrivener Coach take a peek at my past blog here.
For purposes of this blog, we’re going to set you up for the Sync feature! It’s fantastic – you’ll love all the options it gives you. In order for making the Sync feature work for you, you need to set yourself up for success in two ways. First, the prep work and second a standard workflow to follow once it’s set up. Let’s get you going!
Choose an external folder to be used for syncing your project back and forth.
*Tip: If you want to use other devices and computers outside of your network, opt to set up your external folder in a cloud-based system. This way, you only need internet access to work on your project! I use Dropbox, it’s my go to – but iCloud, Google Drive, they would all work.
Set up your folder and name it. Note this folder should only be used for the Scrivener Sync purpose.
*Tip: I typically name it the same as the project file name I choose for Scrivener with the added underscore_Sync. This way I know exactly what it is!
SCRIVENER SYNC FEATURE SET-UP
First let’s get your external folder linked to your Scrivener project. While in your project you will need to select the Sync feature.
File>Sync>with External folder
Next, you will get the following pop-up screen.
First, you will select the’Choose’ and locate where you put your external Sync folder. The pop-up picture above shows all the default options marked.
The draft folder sync option is paramount. This is where you will be working from in your manuscript on your scenes.
The all other text documents option isn’t checked by default. I’ve only used this once, it link’s up all the other text files in your project folder i.e., research folder and places it in a subfolder entitled Notes.
The only documents in collection, provides an option to select only a few key documents versus the entire manuscript. You must uncheck the first option box to enable this option. I don’t find use for it really. My goal is writing and editing so I want it all available. 🙂
The last three options are key in my opinion. When you set up the Sync, Scrivener will label the file name with numbers – this is the link back and forth and sorts your files in order. *Tip: NEVER change the file names or numbering in your Sync Folder. It won’t be able to Sync up if you do.
Scrivener will automatically take a snapshot of each document requires updating before it performs the update. This is a great feature, should you want to go back to a previous version of a scene in your project.
The last option this is a save and Sync feature when you close out of the Scrivener program – just a good workflow if you ask me!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, FORMATTING
This set the file type for files in the Sync folder. You have options depending on how you are using Scrivener. RTF is a versatial format. I use it, via my iPad with my Textilus App. It works well for Microsoft Word and Pages. Some app’s it’s better to choose Plain Text and if you’re writing scripts, Fountain is good.
The check for automatically convert plain text paragraph spacing is great. It gets rid of the extra spaces between paragraphs that doesn’t format over well.
You’re ready – Time to SYNC
During Sync you will see a progress bar. No worries, it’s setting up to your external file. Then you will see the following. This will happen with every Sync.
WORKING IN SYNC FOLDER
You can now open your scenes and start writing, editing to your heart’s content. You can also add new text files although I find it tricky sometimes to find them in my project folder because they don’t have the original prefix. *Tip: I like to add empty scenes as placeholders, then in the project I move them where I want them (love that flexibility of Scrivener) upon next Sync I’m all oriented in order again.
Below you can see how the draft folder (Sync folder) matches up with my Scrivener project folder.
When you navigate to your Sync folder, to write or edit you’ll want to choose your note. Your default text editor will open the note, if you want another program you can open the note within that program originally or right click to choose the program of your choice. This can be done in any computer or device as I mentioned above. Typically I’m on my iPad using Textilus :). You could use a friend’s laptop, the library computer, as you can see a flexible program as become even more flexible.
After you have changed the notes in your draft Sync file, how does it update Scrivener and what does that look like? When you log back into the Scrivener program it will detect the changes to Sync the external folder with your project file automatically. If you want you can manually do this as well, but it’s really fast.
Once the Sync is completed you will see the following screen. This shows the notes that have been updated. Click the X at the bottom and Scrivener is back to its default view ready for work.
WORKFLOW HABITS TO LIVE BY
- Work in only one program at a time. When you’re done in your program, ensure you save your work and close out of the program.
- DO NOT rename your draft Sync file notes – BIG NO NO. Your Sync will no longer function well.
- Keep your draft Sync file notes in the right format, per our options above RTF. Don’t change it, it won’t work right again.
- Don’t spend a ton of time with fancy formatting in your Sync folder, you’ll be frustrated back in your project file. Simple is best.
- DO NOT make more than one Sync folder for the same project. If you want to do this in stages, it’s best to delete the Sync folder when your done and start over – TRUST ME.
In closing I hope this was a helpful post for Scrivener users or soon to be users. Until Scrivener comes out with the app for the iPad this is truly a great way for me to work and have options. I honestly can’t imagine novel writing any other way.
Let me know if you enjoyed this blog by clicking Like. Also if you have a workflow habit not mentioned here, let me know in the comments below. Sharing is caring.