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Laying-out This Summer With Scrivener

Scrivener is a powerful writing tool. I write about it weekly with tips and usage ideas. To read more of my posts click the Scrivener tag or category at the end of the page.

To begin with, let me take care of a little house-cleaning on two points of information. First, I’ve updated my website so that the Store page is now the Store/Downloads page. I’ve posted all the Scrivener project templates I’ve create there for anyone to download and use free including a new one for articles. Second, if you’re looking for a great post about using Scrivener for blogging then check out Bryan Collins’ Using Scrivener For Blogging: The Ultimate How To Guide.

Now onto today’s topic: The Layout Manager. This feature is one that at first seems rather cryptic or even redundant to other features. However, a closer look reveals that the Layout Manager has a specific purpose – saving multiple work layouts of Scrivener bars and views. That’s a simple explanation for what it does but it actually provides a certain flexibility according to need – but more on that in a moment. Let’s look at how to use it and then discuss context.

Scriv Window_Layout Menu

Opening the Layout Manager

To access the Layout Manager, click on Window (Alt + w), slide down the menu to Layouts to get a fly-out menu for Layout Manager. If you have no layouts then there is only one choice available – the manager.

Once you open the Layout Manager you have this window, you can name and save different work layouts. Read the description for the manger’s purpose and you get a bit more idea of its purpose. To add a layout click the + button and name the layout. To delete click the minus button. There’s also a gear button to further manage your settings by updating, importing or exporting the layouts. You can also choose to “Save outliner and corkboard settings” and “Preserve all meta-data appearance options”.

Scriv Layout Manager

The Layout Manager

So, you have a way to save your layouts, meaning what settings you have turned on like the Binder, Inspector, Corkboard and split views of the editor. Without the Layout Manager if you are working in one layout in one mode you have to manually change multiple settings depending on your activity. You may be developing or editing and want consistent views for what your tasks are. Just like using project or document templates, you can change views to suit what you are doing. One handy tool is the update feature which you use to save changes to a layout by choosing the layout in the manager and then choosing the settings button and the update option.

Scriv Layout Settings Saved

Settings saved in the Layout Manager across projects.

There are some caveats to all this as well as some useful benefits. First the caveats: while your layouts are for your installation of Scrivener on a specific machine, not all of the settings are preserved between projects since not all settings are meaningful in every project. One of the main settings not preserved are collections which are project specific. Also, I have not found that the manager allows you to toggle to a Full-screen mode with or without a backdrop. However, there are a lot of settings that are preserved including the outliner/corkboard views and the meta-data options if turned on for a specific layout. Here’s a screenshot from the Scrivener manual that lists all the settings preserved:

Now more about the benefits: the Layout Manager allows Scrivener users to setup their individual layouts based on workflow for differing tasks. Then users can toggle between layouts to perform various tasks without taking time to change individual settings, thus saving time.

Essentially, with each new project you have the ability to progress through your own workflow of development using your layouts without making constant changes to the view. Want to write with nothing else on at some point? Just change to that layout. The usage is meant to allow users to make layouts based on beginning project development and progressing through all the stages of work. It’s just one more way that Scrivener allows flexibility in project development to suit individual user needs.

But what happens if you replace your computer? Or what if you want common layouts on multiple computers where Scrivener is installed? This is where the Export/Import features are valuable, allowing you to setup layouts on new and different computers.

Once again we see how valuable Scrivener is to writers of all kinds in the development of their work. Why not try making a few layouts and see if using them helps you through your daily writing more efficiently? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. I’ve updated the site with a new landing page starting today but you can still view the News page for announcements. As part of the changes, new email subscribers will receive my free new guide, 15 Must Have Apps for Self-Publishing Authors. Sign-up today! I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Just as a note: I am not affiliated with Scrivener in any official capacity. For support questions, pricing and other concerns please contact the vendor.

How Did I Get Here?

Going In CirclesHow did you get here? That’s a loaded question. But it is one that I got on my recent blog talk radio interview on Beyond the Cover – just in different words.

I was asked by host, Beem Weeks, how I started writing. That is a loaded question. If you aren’t prepared for it then you may freeze. But I think I handled the question well. But it did get me thinking about how I really got here. No, I got here the usual way everyone else did. I mean as a writer – how did I get to this time and place?

Well, I covered some of the details in the interview but it’s much more complex for me than just a few minutes of discussion in an interview. Why am I writing? Why am I doing it now? There are any number of questions that can be asked and answered as part of the whole notion.

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Ultimately, what a writer puts out for anyone to see is an extension of themselves. So life experiences become important. I’m not saying just go build up a bunch of memories from a bucket list so you can write good prose. No, it’s much more complex than that. It’s also the experiences that were unpleasant. The good and the bad, the highs and lows, are all aspects of character and plot that provide a writer with a wealth of important resources for fleshing out the elements of a novel.

My own story – thirty years of writing this one book covers a lot of events. I finished the original novel in 1995 and was offered a contract. The terms were vague so I backed away. I tried my hand at short stories and let the manuscript lie for a few years. I started a few re-writes all around career changes and the arrival of a child.

After some time, health issues affected me though I didn’t know how much. I struggled with hypothyroidism and faded into sleep apnea. I didn’t know how much it affected me until these and a few other things were treated effectively. Then I woke up to what was going on. It was like being Rip van Winkle. Oh, I knew things had changed but I never really put it together until that time. I saw the opportunity and started writing again.

winding roadSome people might say I should have moved on and that may be well an good. But I had a finished book and it was salable years ago so I wanted to cut my teeth on it. I looked at the manuscript and held me nose at a mess that had gone quite putrid in the intervening years. So, I re-wrote it and began the journey afresh with more insights while learning some new techniques as I went.

It’s been a winding road – sometimes through the middle of nowhere – to actually publishing this upcoming book. When I started, the internet wasn’t even a daily reality and now you can learn more about writing in a month just off blogs than what used to be available in a few books. E-books weren’t even a thought back in those days and Amazon didn’t even exist. A lot has changed in the intervening years and the world of publishing has changed at an accelerated rate over the last decade with all the changes in technology.

Right now is an exciting time. It’s a time of rapid change. It’s an interesting time. I’m glad I waited but I wish I had spent more time just writing along the way. I missed years of skill development and now I’m pushing daily to grow as a writer. However, these are amazing days to do so and I’m thankful for making it this far.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive the forthcoming edition of my newsletter with announcements about upcoming releases and events. You’ll receive my a FREE coupon for my short story e-book, The Black Bag which contains a sample chapter of The Bow of Destiny. You’ll also be the first to have news about my books, especially some free offers this summer related to the upcoming release of The Bow of Destiny, the first novel of The Bow of Hart Saga. Speaking of which, it is now available for pre-release orders on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks (via the iTunes app) & NOW Amazon – Kindle. Additionally, August’s free e-book: Trading Knives is now available on Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble & Amazon.

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The Bow of Destiny Trading Knives 1 What Is Needed 4 Black Bag Cover 7

Stop and Watch the Turtles Play?

TurtlesSome years back I stepped out on the balcony of the building where I work. It overlooks a small lake surrounded by trees and a footpath. It’s very nice scenery for an office building where you can see nature’s changes throughout the year.

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There are all kinds of animals that inhabit this nature area including snakes, water-fowl, fish, deer turtles and more. I’ve walked the foot-path many times and observed these various animals living bordering to a busy work environment. I’ve seen a blue heron sail across the lake a beaver play in the water. People visit the office park to fish the lake.

But on this particular afternoon, I watched an interesting tableau. The water is rather close to the rear of the building and the afternoon sun shines at an angle so you can observe what’s in the lake – especially from several floors up.

OakMtnAs I stood on that sunny afternoon and watched the lake, I noticed young turtles underwater in the shallows. These juveniles swam around, chasing and playing with each other. It was quite an unusual spectacle that I’d never really seen previously. Imagine, turtles playing in the water? It left me smiling after several minutes of observation.

Thinking back on that short time, I find that it’s important to stop and smell the roses – er – watch the turtles play. Smelling the roses is good but common. It’s great to see things you’ve never really noticed before. You’ll find many sights you’ve never considered and be refreshed as well.

It’s been busy for me most of this year with lots of writing activities. But one thing I need to do more of is stop and observe what’s around me. In the middle of my busy book launch schedule, I plan to take a few trips in the area and get out for a hike and look for the unusual in my surroundings. Sometimes, you just need the break and the mental rest.

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive the forthcoming edition of my newsletter with announcements about upcoming releases and events. You’ll receive my a FREE coupon for my short story e-book, The Black Bag which contains a sample chapter of The Bow of Destiny. You’ll also be the first to have news about my books, especially some free offers this summer related to the upcoming release of The Bow of Destiny, the first novel of The Bow of Hart Saga. Speaking of which, it is now available for pre-release orders on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks (via the iTunes app) & NOW Amazon – Kindle. Additionally, August’s free e-book: Trading Knives is now available on Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble & Amazon.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.