Steve Jobs once said: “Computers are bicycles for the mind.”.
Circus Ponies Notebook and Scrivener exemplify this sentence for me. I could not have written my diploma thesis without Circus Ponies Notebook and I wouldn’t have been able to finish my PhD thesis without both Circus Ponies Notebook and Scrivener.
Both programs are presented in detail in the blog entries: Scrivener — A perfect program for dissertation writing, and Circus Ponies Notebook: The Best Tool for Structuring Creative Writing Projects (esp. Research Projects). I have also written an article about using Circus Ponies Notebook for academic writing.
Here I just want to point out to those three blog entries and make a case for using them together for (longer) creative writing projects.
Imagine a wild, colorful girl, who is interested in anything and everything, and holds an impossible width and depth of information that she can order in any way she needs. That’s Circus Ponies Notebook. And now imagine a cool, clear thinker, who is very focused on what he does best. That’s Scrivener. Now combine them and you have a very powerful combination for creative writing.
Circus Ponies Notebook can be used to collect notes for a project and structure them in a way that make sense, that you can follow when you write down the text based on that information. This allows you to focus on individual details, small subsections, while never staying from the path of the article itself. This tremendously reduces the cognitive load you have to handle as you do not need to keep in mind all the information you do not actually need at the moment.
Scrivener on the other hand can be used to write the text in, as it has some of the best features for writing I have ever seen, including a “Backup To” function that automatically uses current date and time for the file name, a good outline for navigation, version control, and much, much more. Forget Word when it comes to writing larger texts. Word was made for letters and such-a-like, not for longer, more complicated texts. Scrivener’s main strength is that it lets you focus on writing (and re-writing) and also reduces tremendous amounts of cognitive load.
Taken (and used) together both lets you focus on writing, which is hard enough in itself.