I recently read an article (accompanied by a video) on how to quickly write a blog post using Scrivener. As you know, I’m currently working on a project using Scrivener and well, I figured I might as well jump feet first into the deep end.
What follows is my post that was written using Scrivener’s folders.
- Topic: What you can learn about writing from chickens
- Length of piece: 400 words
- Introduction: 100 words
- Development : 200 words
- Conclusion: 100
I’ve noted in the text in red where each folder starts.
What Chickens Can Teach You About Writing
I write about the lessons I’ve learned from living with a flock of backyard chickens.
Oh sure, you can learn things like:
- A freshly laid egg does not need to be refrigerated due to something called the bloom that protects the egg from air/water loss and bacteria.
- The pecking order is a real and sometimes heart-breaking reality.
- Unless you have a heart of stone, baby chicks will always make you say “awwwwwwwwww.”
I’ve certainly learned a lot from my chickens, but it doesn’t end with their care and maintenance. I’ve learned some parenting lessons (pecking order is alive and well amongst teen girls) and I’ve learned a thing or two about best practices in writing from my backyard flock.
Chickens? Writing? (Development sub-folder)
Okay, listen, I can hear you clucking all the way from my little writer’s desk. Chickens? Writing? Surely that one is a stretch for even those with the greatest imagination.
But hear me out.
Chickens have different points of view (Development sub-folder)
Chickens constantly take different points of view. A chicken’s eyes are located on the sides of their heads (not facing forward like ours.) This means that when a chicken wants to see the world (or that lovely green bug traveling up a stem) she has to constantly adjust her head, by viewing the world from first one side, and then the other, she is creating depth in her vision field.
Learning to view from different perspectives is an invaluable skill for any writer.
Chickens work at scratching all day long (Development sub-folder)
Chickens use their feet to constantly scratch at the dirt in order to unearth insects and yummy goodness. The resultant etchings are referred to by what many of our early school teachers called our handwriting – chicken scratch.
Chickens live to eat, when you are producing (an egg) on a daily basis, you need to really work at it. Just think if we put that much effort into our scratching – we just might be able to also produce an egg a day.
To be productive, you’ve got to work at it.
Chickens take breaks (Development sub-folder)
In the warm afternoon sun, you’ll often find chickens taking what is called a dust bath followed by a quick nap in the sun.
The dust bath consists of throwing dirt over their bodies; believe it or not, it’s a way of cleaning out mites and insects from their feathers.
And the nap is simply a way to enjoy the sunny day.
A good writer knows how to take care of herself and when it’s time for a little break.
Cross that road
Finally, here’s a good writing lesson from our friends the chickens. You know that old joke:
“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“To get to the other side.”
As a writer use that advice to get on with your work. Do whatever it takes (butt in chair, finding a room of your own, writing in a favorite notebook) for you to get to the other side of your project.
And when you reach that other side (publication or just satisfaction from your work) do yourself a favor and take one last bit of advice from my flock – be sure to crow loud enough about your accomplishment for all to hear.
- My post came in at 641 words – I clearly overwrote from my original projected 400 words but to be fair, the total word count at the bottom of the Scrivener document made me aware that I was going over and so I did keep an eye on extra verbiage.
- Time from start to finish – about 1 hour – but hey, that included re-watching the video and following it step by step.
- The video was helpful but the tool has since changed. A few menu options are different.
- I tried several times and could not get my document to compile (kept getting an error message.) What I finally ended up doing was to use the “composite feature” which showed me the entire document. I then cut and pasted the pieces into this post. Not exactly a time-saving procedure but I have a feeling that when I figure out how to compile that little bump will fall away.
- Breaking up the post into sections (folders) is exactly how I like to write my non-fiction. In this case I worked on the middle section first, added the conclusion and *then* wrote the introduction. This is how I teach my technical writing students how to write – stuck at the introduction? Then start with the middle.
Will I be using Scrivener again for posts? You betcha. Especially for my non-fiction, teaching posts – you can’t teach a thought if you don’t approach it with organization. Not to go too Zen on you, but I’m certain that the more I use Scrivener, the more I will use Scrivener.
As always, I’m very interested in your comments and questions about this process. Scrivener seems to be a tremendous writing tool and I think that once the learning curve is behind you, there is great potential for its use in your writing.
UPDATE: I figured out what was causing my project to not compile, even though I had named the project, there was a top folder in the project called “draft” – that folder needs to be renamed (presumably to the project name) before you can compile. Once it has been renamed, everything works fine.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.