Writing as Programming

One of the reasons I always enjoyed programming was that by its nature, I could break a project apart into digestible chunks and attack each of them individually. One of the reasons I hated programming was that it was too heavy on the logic and too light on the room for creativity.

With writing, it was much the opposite — loved the room for creativity, but I hated the fact that writing a novel was very much a herculean task that you had to slog through page by page. The format doesn’t lend itself into creating digestible chunks because there are so many “hooks” from scene to scene and no real way to track them.

Recently, I’ve rediscovered Scrivener, which I acquired in a MacHeist (I think), and the more I’ve delved into it, the more I’ve realized that it’s the tool I need to write larger works of fiction — it is, fundamentally, an IDE for writing.

See, in my old process of fiction writing, I would frequently have to go back and refer to the earlier points in my novel (or what have you) to reference a point — and in doing so, I would get not only knocked out of my rhythm, I’d find something I didn’t like and that would set off a spate of editing that took me away from what it was I was actually working on.

And that’s the genius of Scrivener — a full environment for tracking notes, revisions, etc., that works in a multi-paned mode so I can be looking at notes while writing a scene, without getting bogged down in other shit. Once I’m done with a scene, I park it with all the other scenes, start a new one, and then I can go back and assemble them, write linking scenes, if needed, and then compile the whole book from those scenes.

I’ve been using it for a new work of fiction that has been rolling around in my head for the last year, and I’m totally in love with it.