Focus on Today, Not on the Book: Using Scrivener’s Project Targets

I do all my writing in Scrivener (Mac | Windows) now. It’s a powerful, wonderful program, but it also has a steep learning curve, and so I want to show you one of my favourite features.

A very simple thing, but incredibly useful, especially if you are working on a long project, something that is overwhelming and that you need to break down into small, manageable chunks you can work on day by day.

It’s very easy to worry about the whole project and lose focus on what you have to do today, right now. Scrivener has a great function that helps you do this, which is called Project Targets.

In this screenshot video, you can see me (over)explain this simple but powerful feature:

I hope you can see the power of this … Scrivener is calculating my work for the day!

I actually went and dumped all my critical writings into that file, and I already have almost 150,000 words of decent stuff (not counting a bunch of other stuff). I would never have known that I already have enough for a book of critical writing if it wasn’t for this feature. You can just drag and drop stuff into a project, whereas before I really had to do some math or suture stuff in a Word file, to figure this kind of thing out.

Am I going to pare it down to a book of critical writing? I don’t know. Publishing a book of critical writing seems somehow too egotistical. But I could! I set a new goal of 250,000 words. When I have around 3-4 books worth of good material, then maybe I will trim it down to a single decent book.

Me and Scrivener: A Love Story (Coda)

I love Scrivener (Mac | Windows). For many, many, many reasons. I recommend it to everyone.

But it is NOT easy to learn.

I found that, while I could use it right away and it was useful immediately, even in the trial version, it was frustrating to feel like it could do WAY more for me, if I could just master its ins and outs.

I then thought of a great business idea, for once in my life … I would invest my time in learning Scrivener, and make a series of videos (like the one above, but way better) and then create a whole online course about how to use Scrivener! I would sell it and make some serious money and become a Scrivener king!

As soon as I had this idea, I discovered that someone else already did it, in a course called Learn Scrivener Fast. I purchased his course (since it had a money-back guarantee), thinking I would scope out the competition and then outdo the sucker.

Unfortunately, the course is great. So I’m not rich. And I didn’t ask for my money back, so I am actually poorer. But I know how to use Scrivener!

If you are a serious writer, I recommend Scrivener (Mac | Windows). I recommend Learn Scrivener Fast. I love them both. I became an affiliate of both, so if you want to support this site and you intend to purchase either, please do so through the links on this page.

Yes, both are investments in time and money, but if you are serious about writing then you should already be in the habit of investing your time and money to become a better writer. The software is powerful and has amazing potential to revolutionize your way of working.

Maybe you don’t care about that, because what you do already works for you. If that’s the case, then don’t worry about Scrivener. You might want to play around with it, but if you are happy with what you’re doing then you should focus your writing time on writing.

I wasn’t. I needed, among other things, software that would let me work on massive writing projects, and non-linearly. Scrivener is that software.

But I was wasting my time learning it. As pricey as the Learn Scrivener Fast course seemed, it was ultimately money WELL spent. I tried the books about the software, but they weren’t for me. It is just so much easier to grasp software, for me, from videos than from pages. Normally, I prefer learning from books, but not for software training, and I figured with a money-back guarantee it was safe to give it a shot.

However, if you DO buy the course, I wouldn’t worry about the “bonus” thing about “using Scrivener with an editor.” It’s useless. Yes, it works, but the fact is that it is pointless. If you are going to be a publishing, professional writer, then you MUST shift to Microsoft Word once you are in the editing/publishing process, and dealing with an editor in any professional context.

Do you, like me, hate Word? Tough. Word is where you will edit your book. I am sorry. It’s not my fault, or Scrivener’s fault. You can never escape Word. But with Scrivener, you can blissfully forget about Word for as long as possible.

If you already use Scrivener and have other cool tips about it, then let me know! I want to stab myself when I think that I wrote five books without Scrivener. Gah. It would have saved me years of my life.


The First One's Free.

The First One's Free.

To celebrate (over) a decade since my first book, I’m offering it for free.

EX MACHINA is a choose-your-own-adventure-style poetry-novel hybrid about how machines have changed what it means to be human.

Fill out this form so we can stay in touch, and I’ll send you the book.

2 thoughts on “Focus on Today, Not on the Book: Using Scrivener’s Project Targets

  1. Do you know when Scrivener will add the Project Targets features to the Windows version? There’s a target window, but it is very minimal and doesn’t have all the features that the windows version has.

  2. No, but you can probably ask them, the company is pretty good at responding ( The Windows version lags behind the Mac version quite a bit, although I still loved it back when I was using it (I never learned how to do many things in the program before I switched from a PC to a MacBook, so I can’t recall the details of how they differ — one of the things that sold me on a MacBook was knowing I would get a big feature boost when I re-purchased Scrivener).

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