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ConnectedText vs. Scrivener

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Posted by Dr Andus
Mar 5, 2012 at 11:21 PM


After spending several months writing intensively in Scrivener for Windows, recently I switched over to ConnectedText to give it a try. I was encouraged by Steve’s blog post the other day about the freedom that ConnectedText allows the writer. Also, I’ve come across this blog post which showed how to mimic Scrivener for Mac in CT:

These are just early days, as I’m still at the baby stage with CT, but here are some observations about first impressions vis-a-vis expectations, and experience with Scrivener. I needed to write up some handwritten notes about the conceptual structure of my evolving dissertation, while also developing the concepts further. After reading Steve’s blog I imagined it would be a very quick process of typing things up (actually I’m dictating with Dragon), and branching out into new topics. To my surprise, the effect of CT on me was the opposite. It slowed me down and made me pay a lot of attention to what I was writing, as I was being attentive to words that may need to be turned into hyperlinks to new topics. Also, switching back and forth between the edit mode and the view mode slowed me down, as I was paying attention to the way things looked. The wiki format made me self-conscious somehow of the fact that it is a public format, and so I was looking at it with other people’s eyes. Needing to use headings, so I can have a table of contents, also slowed me down, as I had to think of the structure, what would make a good heading etc. This was all very different from writing in Scrivener, which does fulfil its basic promise, namely that it withdraws as a writing tool, so you can write without distraction.

Verdict: I’m still evaluating the experience, but the upshot of using CT for writing so far has been that my paragraphs are smaller, my sentences are shorter, and in general my writing is more precise and less verbose, as I had to make sure I was staying on message, as promised by the given header subtitle, and to not digress on themes that I packed away via hyperlinks to other topics. In summary, CT seems to be forcing me to be more concise then I would have been in Scrivener, where I tend to just keep on writing. At the particular stage of writing where I am, CT’s disciplining effect is very helpful at the moment, though I could see other scenarios where I might want the freedom of Scrivener again.

I see from the Taking Note blog that people also use ConnectedText with Scrivener, so this is not necessarily an “either/or” situation: