Scrivener Tips for NaNoWriMo

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I love NaNoWriMo. I also love Scrivener. It should come, then, as little surprise that I use the latter when taking part in the former.

As I like to do, I've come up with a small collection of tips to help people out during NaNoWriMo. It can be a pretty stressful time of year for those who are participating, and every little bit helps. Here are my top tips for using Scrivener to organize yourself for meeting your daily word goals and winning at the end of the month.

Set Up a Structure

I've got pre-set chapter templates, with each chapter earmarked for roughly 2,000 words. Within these chapters, I set up "session" documents. This is where I do the bulk of my writing. Each session is short; how short, I'll get to in a moment. But because they're short, I can tear through them with almost no effort.

Set Up Word Count Targets

I wrote about these last year. I've refined my approach in the year since though, and so I think they're worth revisiting in a big way. The core of what I wrote then still applies - setting small goals that you can finish easily is still a big part of my strategy.

Each of the sessions in my chapters are targeted to 250 words. 250 words is nothing; anyone should be able to write 250 words in 10 minutes, 20 if you're slow. 5 if you're really fast or on a roll.

In order to hit the minimum daily target of 1,667 words, I have to finish 7 of these session documents, but man, 250 words is such an easy target to hit! I've had absolutely no problem doing it this time around.

Don't Be Afraid to Stray

You might be looking at all those structure documents in those chapters up there and be thinking to yourself, "Wow, that looks awkward. Do I really have to stop writing and skip down to the next file to keep going?"

Of course not, it would be crazy to say that you must do it that way. I actually do exactly that though, because it keeps the session files looking small and harmless, but if you prefer to just keep writing in the same continuous file, go for it. Like I said, my session files often end up longer than 250 words. 350-450 isn't uncommon.

Color-Code Sections

Scrivener lets you color-code by label. In the image above, I've set chapters to be green (for now) and sessions to be yellow. For the moment, that's of limited value to me. Later on when I'm further into the book it can become indispensable.

If you followed along as I wrote The Ship of the Unforgotten for June's Camp NaNoWriMo, you may remember that I had one group of characters that split off into protagonists and antagonist, and then the protagonists further divided into sub-groups as well.

I used color-coded sections to keep track of who was active in what part of the story in Scrivener's section list (what they call the Binder), which made it much easier to ensure that I was giving sufficient coverage to all the parts of the story that needed it.

I think that's good for this year; I do have to get back to my NaNoWriMo project, after all. Good luck with yours, if you decide to participate!