I currently use the writing software Scrivener because the program is packed with features. Initially created as a project manager for novels, you also can create scripts and e-books. You can write in one font and compile your manuscript in another. You can easily write out of order, then drag and drop the files to change the story sequence. There are basically so many options that I’m constantly discovering new tools.
However, I’ve found a problem. It’s small, and I’ve figured out a workaround.
Scrivener file format
Multiple text documents create a single Scrivener file (known as a .scriv), which works like any other file until you use the cloud storage service Dropbox.
In your computer’s Dropbox folder, the files appear normal:
Notice how a .scriv looks just like the .pdf.
However, when you go to the Dropbox website, the server does not recognize .scriv as a file. Instead, the site views it as a folder comprised of multiple files:
This becomes a problem when, like yesterday, I discovered that my couple-hundred-page manuscript had disappeared except for a single chapter.
I’m sure this was my fault. I must have accidentally overwritten the file. So, I went to Dropbox.com to restore a previous version of the book, but since Dropbox doesn’t properly recognize .scriv files, this feature was missing.
The image below shows the option I expected to find—which is only available for individual files, not folders:
I needed to find an alternative. Luckily, I was able to resurrect an old version from my Mac’s Time Machine. (This is why we constantly backup our files.)
To avoid this problem in the future, I’ve set up an archive folder that I will manually update after each day’s writing. By selecting all the Scrivener projects in my Dropbox folder, I then compress them into a single .zip file:
Zips save space, and you can put multiple files inside. This way I keep accessible backups of each .scriv in the event this error repeats itself.
By properly setting up these applications, you can can avoid losing your hard-won writing as well as your sanity.
Update: I no longer use Scrivener. I have returned to iA Writer for drafting and Word for finishing. Writer does not distract me with features, and Word is ubiquitous. I have come to want my writing software to be invisible.