Lesson 14 of 17
In Progress

Organizational Tools

How do you stay organized while writing a book?

If it hasn’t already become obvious to you that planning and writing a book is a huge organizational undertaking, it soon will. You’ll have outlines, lists, drafts, freewriting, character profiles, research, notes of all kinds. The way you organize this material depends a lot on your own organizational style, your preference for online or other computer technology, your genre, and your project itself.

I’ve completed book-length projects using just notebooks, notecards, file folders, and hard copies of my research. (When I was writing my dissertation, for instance, my entire office floor and every other surface was covered with carefully grouped piles and piles and piles of material. No one was allowed to enter the office and touch these piles for years.)

I’ve also used other tools for different projects.

For today, I’m going to give you several suggestions for organizational resources, and I encourage you to explore them. Try them out. Watch a video or two. You might find one or two that appeal to your own organizational instincts.

1. Scrivener is the big player in the book planning, organizing, and writing space. For good reason. It’s amazing and gives you unlimited ways to view your notes, research, outline, and writing all in one place, and you can also print or export your manuscript in many different file types with the click of your mouse.

The downside to Scrivener? It has a fairly steep learning curve. You can find lots of tutorials and classes however, and it’s really not that hard to become proficient enough to begin using it quickly.

Here’s a quick video with some Scrivener basics:


Here’s a beginner’s guide. I’ve heard really good things about this tutorial course (it’s not free though). The company who sells Scrivener has great free tutorials as well.

2. I’ve never used it but Ulysses has a solid reputation as a simpler alternative to Scrivener.

Here’s a short introduction to Ulysses:


3. For fiction, I would recommend Plottr and Dabble as excellent alternatives to Scrivener.

4. Using Google docs (folders, documents, spreadsheets) is another solid option.

Think about your own preferences and project. What are your plans so far for organizing and drafting your book?