Scrivener for iOS
Picture this. You’re sitting on your own in the doctor’s surgery and they are running 30 minutes late. Or there’s been some signalling failure and your train home is at a standstill. Or you’re meeting a friend at a restaurant or bar and they text to say they are running a little late. With time being such an important commodity in our everyday lives, these little delays can be infuriating. And with many writers finding it difficult to get the time to write, it’s delays like these that can result in the difference between whether you get any words down that day or not.
If only there was a way to take those delays and use them for writing or editing. Of course, carrying your laptop around with the intention of booting it up if you are somehow delayed is impractical. But for fans of the writing software Scrivener, there may now be a solution.
For many writers the go-to tool for writing is Scrivener. Available for both Mac and Windows PC, Scrivener has replaced Microsoft Word as the writing tool of choice for both professional and amateur alike. The ability to break a writing project down into chapters and scenes and then allowing those scenes to be rearranged has captivated writers for a number of years. Being able to store character and setting information as well as your manuscript all inside a single document has seen Scrivener being adopted by a large number of writers. But whereas before you were tied to having a Mac or Windows PC available to run it, Scrivener has now gone mobile with the release of Scrivener for iOS.
Just like its bigger brothers, Scrivener for iOS allows you to break your manuscript into scenes and store background information. And best of all, if you are using Dropbox for your working file, it’s seamless to switch between the iOS version and one of the desktop ones.
Scrivener for iOS is intended for use with an iPad but I’ve used it to great success on an iPhone. If you can handle the small screen, then you can be just as productive on the iPhone as you can on an iPad.
The software works by first syncing with Dropbox. If you’re not already doing this with your desktop projects it’s advisable to check the article I wrote about it here on Fantasy-Faction. When the software loads on your phone or tablet it will force a sync with Dropbox. If you’re on a restrictive data plan it might be wise to get into the habit of doing this via wi-fi every time you go to leave the house, although if your projects don’t have a lot of images in them it’ll use very little bandwidth. A full sync of every single project I’ve written in the last ten years only used some 40mb of data when I tried it. Most app downloads are bigger than that.
Upon doing this you will be presented with the binder that should be familiar to you if you’ve used Scrivener on a desktop or laptop. This will allow you to drill down into a project, and from there drill down into individual scenes.
Writing or editing is much like its bigger brothers. You can use the inline keyboard to type, or if you want to get fancy you can always carry around a small Bluetooth keyboard. Typing via the inline keyboard is slow and prone to errors but if you know what you are doing, there’s nothing stopping you using the iPhone speech recognition to dictate your passage (although this will use further bandwidth).
And when you are finished? Just go back to the main screen and your edits will be saved back to Dropbox. This means you can get delayed at the doctor or on a train, whip out your phone, edit your latest manuscript, save it back to Dropbox and have the changes waiting for you on your Windows desktop or Mac laptop the next time you fire up Scrivener on them.
What Scrivener for iOS misses is some of the advanced features but in reality, it’s not meant as a full replacement for the Mac or PC version. Instead it’s a tool to allow you to get some work done if you suddenly find yourself with some time. That said, even with the features on offer, there’s nothing to stop an iPad worker turning out a manuscript as easily as someone using one of the desktop versions.
And best of all, it works. If you’re already using Scrivener with Dropbox it doesn’t even need any real setup. I know some software can sound great on paper but the experience be very different when it comes to using it. I’ve used Scrivener for iOS for a number of months now just as I’ve described, even editing a passage as I walked into town one day. On its own it’ll never be more productive than the full software, but as a companion app it’s sometimes proved very helpful. I like to think of it as an emergency mobile solution. I’ve even go to writing meetups armed only with my phone instead of lugging a laptop into town and found myself just as productive,
Scrivener for iOS isn’t cheap for an app, coming in around $20, but if you’re already heavily invested into the Scrivener ecosystem you’ll find this mobile software a great little companion app to your arsenal of tools and worth every cent.