Before we begin, practice healthy creative habits: Clear your space of clutter, set aside some time to focus and spend 2-3 minutes doing your Daily Free Writing before you begin. See Lesson 2 for more about DFW.

Installing Scrivener

Today we’re going to download and install Scrivener. If you’ve already installed it, scroll down. If you don’t want to use it, that’s okay too, you can use Word or index cards or a moleskin notebook. I recommend Scrivener because it combines outlining and book planning with manuscript writing. (You’ll see what that means as you use the software.)

To install go to download and install. It’s a 30 day free trial and if you end up loving it, it’s just $45 to keep it forever.

When you first open the application, you’ll get a dialog box that looks like this:


NOTE: Throughout this course there will be screenshots from Scrivener taken from a Mac. If you’re on a PC you might notice that some things are slightly different.

I highly recommend taking the time to do the interactive tutorial, even if you just work through it piece by piece over several days or weeks. You won’t need all the functionality now, but it’s invaluable to at least know it’s there as you progress on this project.

Next, choose the type of project you want to create. For most of us that will either be a fiction or non-fiction book. For fiction writers, you’ll be given several options… if you’re unsure just pick “novel”. For non-fiction writers you’ll want “general non-fiction”.

Save your project and you’re ready to go. In your binder, if you click on “manuscript” there will be a few cards already populated.

For non-fiction, you can find it here:


For fiction, it’s almost the same:


Once you click on the manuscript item, you’re going to see the index-card like format on the right. Like this:


Look good so far? Great. Let’s begin today’s lesson. (Or if you’re stuck feel free to ask questions in the forums.)

Beginning Your Outline

Yesterday we wrote everything we could think of about our book. Today we’re going to break that down into an outline. It’s not going to be perfect. In fact, it will have huge gaping holes that you’ll have to plug in later. Most of it will get rewritten, reworked or deleted. But just like the underdrawing for a painting, we’re just throwing things out there to start sketching our plan.

In the manuscript screen, we’re going to right click and choose, “create new folder” and name it OUTLINE. (Conversely you can also do this from Project >> New Folder in the top menu.)

Do you have an index card labeled OUTLINE that looks like this? Great. Click on it.


You’re now inside your OUTLINE folder and start creating text documents… essentially laying out the rough outline for your book on individual index cards. It should look like this:


Creating a Rough Outline

In the Outline folder you can right click and choose “add new text” or go to Project >> New Text to add an index card. Using your writing from yesterday as a guide, try to build out your book as it stands now either by chapters or Part I / II / III. You can approach this however you want, but I’ve created a sample to inspire some ideas:

That’s it for today, we are taking this step-by-step. If you are feeling brave you can take a screenshot of your work and post it in the Facebook group.

Facebook Group


1Daily Free Writing
2Install Scrivener
3Do some tutorials – as needed. There are also videos on Youtube.
4Create a new project
5Create a folder called OUTLINE
6Add some cards with details from yesterday's brain dump of your book concept – embrace the messiness – you will not know all the parts of your book yet
7Share in the FB group