IWSG 73: Psst! I have a Secret


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



 Pat Garcia | J.Q. Rose | Natalie Aguirre


Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

I tend to be an open book. No pun intended.

One thing that may not be obvious is I’ve got a terrible memory. It comes in handy when rereading or rewatching something. Sometimes I go through the whole thing before I realize I’d been there before.

Sounds like a laugh until I try to remember where I added a detail, or if I added a detail in a chapter?

Not so much fun for a writer when they spend just as much time rereading their work as writing new pages.

Out of self-defense I started using Scrivener.

Some say they don’t have time to learn how to use it. I hear that. But since I’ve gone through the tutorial several times and I think have mastered it. I save so much time.

Some say that they don’t want to stop and collect data to save in different files. Okay. To each, their own. But the five to ten minutes I do use to file away data on characters, settings, and items, saved me hours of looking and finding that stupid detail I was sure was in chapter two and I find in chapter nine.

A place for everything and everything in its place. Whoot!

A quick click I can check eye color or the type of drapes in someone’s house without reading pages and pages. Where did I leave the clue and who has it now?

Using Scrivener has given me hours of writing time which to me is a huge success.

Anyone use Scrivener or have tips to help them remember details? Please share. All of us want to know your tricks of the trade.

84 responses to “IWSG 73: Psst! I have a Secret

  1. I love scrivener! It’s my favorite thing, especially the option to have your text read back to you 🙂 I use it for everything: character sketches, scene outlines, story boards, it’s great 🙂

  2. If it keeps you organized then use it. It’s all about what helps you be a better writer.

  3. That’s great Scrivener is really working for you! Whatever we need to do, right? 🙂

  4. Natalie Aguirre

    Glad Scrivener saves you time and helps you be more productive. We all need to find what works for us.

  5. Part of the problem is we (older humans) keep repeating the mantra that with old age comes a poor memory. We should replace that mantra to “With old age comes much charm and wisdom.” Don’t you agree??!!

  6. Hi,
    I have Scrivener on my computer since 2010. I start with it and then stop. Start again and then stop. I also use Pages and I use Word for the Mac. The one I use the most is Word. Maybe one of these days I will start back using Scrivener but then I will need a refresher course.
    Wishing you all the best and thanks for being a part of IWSG.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  7. I adore Scrivener! I love popping research pages in and keeping everything organized. I’d be a weepy mess if I couldn’t use it anymore!

  8. I also can’t remember details from TV shows & movies, to my husband’s endless astonishment. Maybe it’s because I read so many books? I gave Scrivener a try, but found I was already doing the functions it offers via MS Word, notecards, and binders. The important thing for me is to keep records of EVERYTHING related to a WIP and know where to find it. Happy writing in June!

    • I tried your method when I first started, and–this is sad to say–I lost a lot of it. Apparently, I’m only organized in the virtual world.

      Not frustrating at all. 😉

  9. I too spend too much time re-reading my writing, sometimes to try to remember little facts but sometimes to procrastinate writing something new. I have found that Goodreads keeps track of books I’ve read pretty well so that I don’t forget what I’ve read before.

  10. I can imagine writing to be pretty stressful at times not matter your system or memory. Good luck with all of yours!!

  11. I say yes to whatever makes the writing easier. I have’t used Scrivener, but I’ve only heard good things from those who do.

  12. I haven’t used Scrivener either, but maybe its time. I do remember things, but age has a way of messing with my head.

  13. I’m a Scrivener fan, too. I don’t use even a third of what all it can do, but I still find it invaluable.

  14. I used to be a Scrivener-denier. I found it very difficult to master. Then I tried to revise a draft written in Word. Ahem. This time around, I dumped the tutorial and simply Google what I want to do when I need a new task. Voila! Instructions, hacks, videos. Works like a charm.

  15. I don’t use Scrivner for that but I do keep a ‘bible’ for my series right at hand so I keep everything straight.

  16. I heard many writers express their happiness with Scrivener. I never tried it myself, but it’s great that you found a digital tool that works for you.

  17. I have Scrivener and am guilty for not giving it a serious try. I write a series called “Slices of Life.” They are about 500 to 600 words. I figure Scrivener would be ideal place to store these “slices.” Just can figure out where? Should they be on a cork board? separate files/chapters? So many options.
    Looks like a terrific time saver. Especially, going back and finding bits and pieces.

    • I’d be really tempted to open a new project and call it “Slices of Life”. Then title or date each Slice as a folder. Create each one by clicking the bottom left blue square under the binder.

      Then you can use the cork board and swap them around at will.

      But that’s me and you’ll need to do you. 😉

      If you have any specific questions, contact me through my blog and I’ll do what I can to help.

  18. Loni Townsend

    I have a secret google website (called Squirrel Thoughts) where I keep all the details of my world, the stories, the characters all organized. For instance, I have a section on how the calendar of my world works. Another about the military organization. Another about the deities, their powers, and appearances. Each book in my series has it’s own section, each character has their own section. I’ve even got a section where I list out the songs I put in each book and what music inspired me. It contains all the information that will likely never make it onto the page, but it helps me, especially when I forget something, like which moon is named what. 🙂

  19. I tried Scrivener but it didn’t stick with me. I think it could have helped me remember details. I was offered a freebie trial version of Save the Cat! Writing Software and it has many of the same features. I started using it and I really like it, for many of the same reasons people love Scrivener.

  20. I like rereading or rewatching a favorite book or show. It doesn’t matter that I’ve already read or watched something before. It just means it’s that good to read and watch again. Plus, there are times something new you never noticed or thought before catches your attention.
    I don’t use Scrivener and that’s only because the software isn’t compatible with Chromebook and they haven’t made a Scrivener Chrome app yet. Sigh.

  21. Thank you for putting that down. I might like to check it up. Your little secret made me smile. I’m glad you found a way out.

  22. Oh my gosh, I’m the same!! My memory is atrocious. Super handy for editing. Not so handy for getting those details consistent. I didn’t realize Scrivener had that feature.

    • It’s amazing what it can do. If you’re planning to do NaNo this year, try Scrivener. You can download it in Oct and the trial will last until Dec. Bonus! If you win, you get a deal. 🙂

  23. I bought Scrivener a few years ago and wrote my first three drafts in it, before transferring the last one into Word for beta readers. Then, I kept working in that file. I’m glad to read the program works so well for you. I’d forget those details as well with my bad memory. With my next project, I’ll try and go through the tutorial again and actually take advantage of its many features…

  24. I think its genius to use Scrivener that way. I keep notes in a notebook but I need to actively write it otherwise I forget to do the metadata.

  25. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    I know what it’s like to look for a detail you can’t remember for sure, Anna. It’s maddening! I’ll have to look into Scrivener. I tend to be an open book myself, but there are some things I will likely never share. All the best to you in June!

  26. Debbie Johansson

    I’ve had Scrivener for years, but never really spent much time on it. I know some people love it and I’ve heard it has some good features. I think I’m scared of being a bit overwhelmed by it all, but I really do need to get around to learning and using it. Thanks for the reminder! 😉

  27. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sometimes, I wish I had more memory problems. I know that sounds bad. I do forget some things, but I remember more than I’d like to sometimes. I never tried Scrivener, but I have a pretty complex system, that I’m already used to, to help keep track of things. Guess I’m set in my ways. I’ve heard many people love it though.

  28. What a timely post. I am at that stage of re-reading and such a waste of time. Plus I have old manuscripts in my files. I spent a day writing, but it was in the old file! sheesh…Haven’t used scrivener, but now writing the longest book I’ve ever written–over 52000 pages–and still not done. Sooo, maybe Scrivener is a good choice.
    JQ Rose

  29. Hi Anna,

    I signed up for it years ago and never really did much with it. I guess I am pretty lucky, I do remember a lot of the details in my writing. It may be because my second novel had few characters and settings. Now, my current one, that is another story, But since I have only a few chapters left, I can manage without it. Maybe I’ll try it for my next novel. Since I do write in great detail, it would be nice to have all of them organized to find it easier.

    • I love doing organizing virtually because it’s all cut and paste. However, if you took pics with your phone/tablet and stored them like index cards with detailed titles, you’d still have everything at your fingertips.

      If you go back to Scrivener and need help, let me know. I’m there for you. 🙂

  30. Glad to know I’m not the only one with a terrible memory:)
    Good info on Schrivener. I’ve never used it, but it sounds like it would be extremely helpful. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that.
    Have a pleasant, productive day.

  31. Before I learned about Scrivener, I’d already developed my own system. I did try it, but it didn’t work for me. Maybe if I tried Scrivener before I got entrenched in my own way, I could have learned it. Too much for this old dog. 😏

  32. Well good on you for finding a solution that works for you. Brilliant. My memory sometimes escapes me, too. I should probably give Scrivener a try. Thanks, Anna!

  33. I have used Scrivener for a long time. The Windows version. I am offering to teach it, as I have had a couple offer to pay me to teach them. Working on getting that going now. IIt is a great program. I don’t really have any secrets either lol. Thanks for visiting me.

  34. I’ve never used Scrivener, but I tend to write stand alones, so there aren’t many details I need to remember from book to book.

  35. I will confess being one of those who has never gotten the hang of Scrivener, but that may be because it’s been a while since I’ve actually *finished* an actual novel. I may need to think about that as a motivational as well as organizational tool. Thanks for sharing this!

  36. Victoria Marie Lees

    Yep! I suffer from memory loss sometimes. Usually when I’m trying to find things or remember details while writing. I don’t use Scrivener. All the luck with your writing endeavors, Anna.

  37. I’ve never used Scrivener (or any other writing software) but it might be interesting to try out sometime. I use Word and I keep a ton of notes in various notebooks. Not the most efficient way of doing things, I know, but sometimes the act of just writing something down on paper helps me remember it.

  38. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    For my latest book, I have a separate Word file where I keep all my setting and character notes. I need to be better about updating it regularly.

  39. I know a lot of people love Scrivener. What’s important is what works for you. I use Word, especially the speech-to-text function and comments. When I come across an area that needs more information, a word lookup, or links to research, I use the comments at that point in the novel. I also have a separate document for my novels, which include the synopsis, characters, and important details in each chapter.

  40. As a Scrivener user, I can see exactly where it helps remembering where you are and all the details all in one convenient place – great writing tool.

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