The Single Best Scrivener Feature for Nanowrimo by Blake Atwood

I would never have become a full-time editor and author were it not for Scrivener.

It wasn’t just because Scrivener is so flexible. Or that it offers unparalleled organizational capabilities. Or that its composition mode strips away every distraction from your screen so that it’s just you versus the blank page (which is simultaneously terrifying and liberating.)

While I appreciated those features, one feature in particular forever unlocked my writing: project targets.

With Scrivener’s target-setting capabilities, I told Scrivener I wanted to write my first book in four months. I set my total word count at 50,000. I selected that I wanted to write every weekday. Then Scrivener did the math I was too afraid to do and told me I had to write 581 words per day over eighty-one writing days.

I could do that.

Plus, if you set up target-tracking the right way, Scrivener will play a pleasant sound and display a small popup of congratulations every time you hit your writing goal. Eventually, the noise elicits a Pavlovian response. You can’t wait until the next day you get to write just so you can hear that sound again and know you’re making real progress toward a dream you may have harbored for decades.

While working a full-time job, I woke at 5 a.m. every weekday morning, shut my office door, and hammered out 581 words. Six months later—because I took two months off thinking my writing was terrible and my book was dumb—I finished The Gospel According to Breaking Bad. I self-published it so its release could coincide with the series premiere of the show’s last season. Book sales were buoyed by Breaking Bad’s immense popularity at the time and a mention in the Washington Post.

Two years later, I had the opportunity to pursue full-time freelance work. One of my first gigs was ghostwriting a book.

Guess what piece of software was essential to the creation and successful completion of that work?

Now four years into freelancing, I use Scrivener every day, both for my writing—even this post—and the writing I do for my clients. I could make my living without Scrivener, but I’m grateful I don’t have to.

And I’ll always remain grateful that a single feature in this superb software made me a writer.

I have no doubt that once you overcome the learning curve, you’ll come to love this writing software too—especially when you hear that project completion bell.

Join me in person or via live stream on Sunday, Oct. 13, from 11 a.m. To 1:30 p.m. for “Scrivener 101: How to Start Using Your New Favorite Writing App.”