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In this episode…
If you write fiction (and even if you don’t), my guess is that you use, have used, or are thinking about using Scrivener, one of the most popular writing apps on the planet.
If you are thinking about it, or need some help making the most of Scrivener, this week’s guest is the person to ask for help. Gwen Hernandez is an engineer turned author. She writes the popular Men of Steele series but she has another claim to fame as well. After a friend told her about this cool new writing app, Gwen discovered and fell in love with Scrivener, and wound up publishing blog posts about how to use it as she learned its ins and outs. Eventually, her widely acknowledged expertise led to a contract with Wiley to write Scrivener for Dummies. It also led to a booming business in providing Scrivener training both online and in person.
In this episode Gwen and I talk about why she thinks Scrivener is such a great writing app, how Twitter landed her a publishing deal, and she reveals a few power user moves that everyone who uses Scrivener should know.
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Trevor Thrall 0:00
Welcome to the Get your writing done Podcast. I’m Trevor Thrall, author of the 12 week year for writers. If you enjoy today’s episode, please submit a review wherever you get your podcasts that really helps. And for weekly updates on the podcast and other writing resources, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get your reading done calm. If you write fiction, and even if you don’t, my guess is that you use have used or are thinking about using Scrivener, one of the most popular writing apps on the planet. If you are thinking about it, or need some help making the most of Scrivener this week’s guest is the person to ask for help. GWEN Hernandez is an engineer turned author. She writes the popular Man of Steel series, but she has another claim to fame as well. After a friend told her about this cool new writing app, Gwen discovered and fell in love with Scrivener, and wound up publishing blog posts about how to use it as she learned its ins and outs. Eventually, her growing acknowledged expertise led to a contract with Wiley to write Scrivener for Dummies, and also lead to a booming business and providing Scrivener training both online and in person. In this episode, Glen and I talk about why she thinks Scrivener is such a great writing app, how Twitter landed her a publishing deal. And she reveals a few power user moves that everyone who uses Scrivener should know about.
Well, welcome to the podcast.
Gwen Hernandez 1:27
Thanks for having me.
Trevor Thrall 1:28
It’s great to have you on. You know, my sister has has known you for a long time and has spoken so highly of you. And I’m really glad to finally get a chance to talk in person.
Gwen Hernandez 1:39
Yeah, me too. Yeah. I love kiwi. Haven’t seen her in a while in person. But yeah, wow, that’s
Trevor Thrall 1:45
a pretty common sentiment these days, sadly. So, you know, there are many reasons to talk to you. And so, you know, we’ll cover at least a couple of the good reasons to talk to you. You know, people who listen to this podcast are writers of all kinds, just trying to be sort of the most productive versions of themselves. They can, as you know, aren’t we all right. And so, you know, today, I want to talk about both your own writing, and sort of your process and how you came to be a writer and all that good stuff. But then also to talk about the fact that you are a master of Scrivener, which is, I don’t know how to describe sometimes they describe it as the Deathstar of writing apps because it seems to be on everyone’s mind, it looms and everyone’s consciousness. But, but but you’ve actually done a lot of thinking and talking and teaching about Scrivener. So we’ll we’ll get into that too. But But first, just to, you know, let listeners know who the heck you are. What do you write, tell us about what you’ve written, what you’re writing, and all that good stuff. Okay,
Gwen Hernandez 2:50
um, yeah, I write romantic suspense. And I’ve been writing since early 2009. always focused on romance. And I’ve been published in romance since 2014. So that’s still what I’m doing. I use Scrivener to do it almost every day.
Trevor Thrall 3:11
Awesome. Awesome. And what what? When did you know you’re a writer? Did you like always have the bug from the time you were a kid?
Gwen Hernandez 3:18
Yeah, I definitely wanted to write like in junior high, wrote a little book and kind of always enjoyed, like the writing aspect of any classes that I had. And kind of always someday wanted to write a novel, but really didn’t see it as a real career or anything like that, and went a whole different path for a very long time.
Trevor Thrall 3:40
Yeah. And what led you to finally start writing books, something everyone does. So you know, it needs a little,
Gwen Hernandez 3:47
kind of a, just a series of fortunate events, I guess. I had been wanting to write, I was a manufacturing engineer. And then my last job, and I had just really been feeling the itch to write and didn’t know where to put it. And I was even thinking of like, I wonder if I could write for the employee newsletter, or you know, just like anything to kind of get something out there. And then I ended up quitting my job because of just you know, needing to spend more time with my kids who were needing more, more of my time, and the being in a position where I could actually do that. So but I was also bored because my kids were at school during the day. And I was like, now I have time to finally figure out this writing thing. And I spent a year trying to figure out like, do I want to write nonfiction fiction, like I really didn’t know. I assumed I would be more in the fiction realm because I’d been writing you know, how to do my job for a very long time and training and things like that. So but then I picked up some romances at the library and realized that really like fit the stories that were in my head and kind of dove into that I started learning about what it is and how to write romance and all that kind of stuff. So kind of took off from there.
Trevor Thrall 5:07
Fantastic. That’s, that’s really interesting. I, you know, some people know, since they were sort of kids that they’re going to be a writer. And some of us sort of find out later. I think that’s really interesting. And the fact that your day job was so different from writing fiction, that’s really interesting.
Gwen Hernandez 5:26
Yeah, and I, I assumed that because my day job is all very, like, logic and planning and just, you know, very left brain that I would be a plotter, not a plotter,
Trevor Thrall 5:40
plotter. That’s the engineer who is not a plotter? That must be a first.
Gwen Hernandez 5:44
Yeah, I honestly think it’s more common than then I would have realized as I’m learning, you know, from other people, but yeah,
Trevor Thrall 5:52
yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, I, you know, you hear about the plotter, pancer wars, of course. And recently, I had a conversation with the guys who developed the plotter app. Yeah, it’s literally called plotter so well, you guys must have taken a stance in the wars. No, no, we don’t. That’s you can use it for either one. I’m like, I don’t know, man. I mean, the name. But But yeah, but it’s it. I think the reality as I’ve you know, talked to more and more people is that, you might call yourself one or the other just because but in reality, we all have to do some of both to get anything done. So, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, you may, because you’re sort of trained as an engineer, you may not need to do as much framework, because maybe your brain just is sort of building frameworks without you even realizing it
Gwen Hernandez 6:36
could be I think part of it is I enjoy the I enjoy kind of not knowing where I’m going a little bit, even though it’s frustrating as well. And just the way my brain works is like just very, lots of thinking. And just lots of learning required to write any book, you know, about the subject and everything. Just
Trevor Thrall 6:59
know. So you know, just If anyone looks at your books, you’ll realize you probably do quite a bit of research to do some of these things. Because you, you cover topics that there’s a lot of subject matter material in your, in your novels, do you find the process of research, interesting, I take it,
Gwen Hernandez 7:18
I do. I am a I’m a number one learner in there’s a whole like Clifton Strengths thing. But even if you’re not familiar with that, I’ve always just been on those people who loves learning and likes the challenge of learning new things. And so definitely, that’s part of the appeal for me is anytime I dive into a new book is, you know, all the books, I can read on the topic, whether it’s the the characters job, or the location that they’re going to be in or the how to figure out what like the crime is that the villains are up to or any of that stuff? Yeah, that’s
Trevor Thrall 7:54
one of the things I have discussed with a lot of people is that sometimes research is so much fun, and it’s so comfortable that sometimes it’s a little hard to pivot from the researching part to the actually writing stuff down. Pat, do you? Do you find that that’s an issue for you? Or do you have a strategy of moving from one to the other? Is it just sort of a natural thing for you to progress?
Gwen Hernandez 8:13
I think it’s mostly been natural. If anything, I’ve been fighting myself thinking, I need to start writing when I’m not actually ready yet. Because I’m trying to move forward. Right? So you know, if I, if I sit down to write, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to say, then I’m not done? I guess. So I’ve been trying to remind myself that like when I feel like I really should get to writing I’m like, Well, if I don’t know what to say. I mean, I can write words all day.
Trevor Thrall 8:38
Right? Right, the word is easy enough, but
Gwen Hernandez 8:41
100,000 words on my current book, and I’m still don’t know where
Trevor Thrall 8:46
that’s So now do you find that you end up writing long and then kind of wiggling back? Or do you end up sort of pantsing your way to the more or less the manuscript then it’s going to be
Gwen Hernandez 8:56
Yeah, I tend to actually be a fairly spare writer and I have to go back and layer in some of the details like the setting and the emotion and stuff like that. But I guess I kind of do write long if you consider how many versions of a book I see. I like start before I actually find the story and then write that story.
Trevor Thrall 9:16
And how much of the book do you write many times like that before you kind of the whole thing like the first part or
Gwen Hernandez 9:23
it’s usually anywhere from like a couple scenes to like 25% of the book you know, like to up to like 20,000 words or so
Trevor Thrall 9:30
instead of measure twice and cut once it’s more like write four or five times and then finish Yeah,
Gwen Hernandez 9:37
it’s interest Yeah, it’s annoying but
Trevor Thrall 9:40
you know, I don’t think that’s uncommon at all i and you know, interestingly, I of course write mostly nonfiction or totally only nonfiction but and I don’t I don’t even bother keeping track anymore because of how much I rewrite thing. I mean, just part of the process. I don’t I don’t give it to thoughts anymore. But I remember sort of being horrified when I was writing my dissertation, which was the first sort of book length thing I had ever written. And I actually kind of kept track of these things. And most of that manuscript I wrote over at least nine times, it just horrifying, I couldn’t wait. And now I realized, that’s just how you make something really good is you, you kind of go over things until you really, really, really like it. And hopefully, it’s not nine times, but you know,
Gwen Hernandez 10:25
a few. Yeah, I’ve had some of those well, and I feel like the way my brain works, I’m actually better in revision. So it’s like, first I have to kind of spit something out. And the next day, I’ll wake up with like, oh, no, but this would be even better. Or if I haven’t got this direction, any, you know, so it’s, it’s this weird balance of having to be writing, but not knowing very far ahead, what, what I need to be working on.
Trevor Thrall 10:49
And I was just as your headlights can see
Gwen Hernandez 10:51
that? Yeah, it is kind of that thing. And I think that that is, even though it frustrates me, because it’s a slower process than some people who were like, okay, 80,000 words divided by 1000 words a day, 80 days, I have a book I like, I have never been like that. But I think if I were, I would probably be bored. And I probably wouldn’t want to do it anymore.
Trevor Thrall 11:09
Right? It would turn it into something that was rote, and routine. And that wouldn’t be the discovery and the creative sort of feeling that you, you know, that you’re looking for the joy that you’re looking for, in the process of writing, which I think at root is why a lot of writers write.
Gwen Hernandez 11:24
Yeah, and if I don’t have the challenge, I mean, that’s what I like about anything, every job I’ve ever had, there was no more challenged, I was done.
Trevor Thrall 11:31
Yeah, no, I hear you loud and clear on that I have a similar personality I, I need to chew on new things. Or I can’t just, I’m not good at being bored. Let’s put it that way. Very bad. My whole family jokes, don’t leave that alone in the house for the weekend. Unless you are sure you want the French to rearrange, because I just, I can’t leave things alone. So alright, so you started writing? Did you start off writing with Scrivener? Did you grab it immediately? Or did you find it at some point?
Gwen Hernandez 12:03
I got lucky and had a friend recommended it to me about six months in a while. So you’d be nine months. And so
Trevor Thrall 12:08
newbie and they dropped Scrivener on you, which is kind of an interesting move, frankly.
Gwen Hernandez 12:13
But she’s like, Oh, cuz this is back when it was Mac only she was like you’re a Mac user, you gotta try this software. And I was like, great. And then I remember my first thought being, well, I already have word like, what do I need? What is this gonna do? That word can’t do. And I opened it, I was immediately. Oh, this solves so many things that have been bugging me.
Trevor Thrall 12:33
So tell me about what was the unboxing Oh, is that like what grabbed you right away when you open Scrivener?
Gwen Hernandez 12:39
The the first thing that grabbed me was the fact that it’ll just go back to where I left off. So when I open not not just within, you know, I think word now there’s a way you can do that, or whatever. But gosh, I
Trevor Thrall 12:53
still don’t know what it is, if you can,
Gwen Hernandez 12:55
I don’t remember I don’t even use word anymore. But yeah, it would just you would open it up the next day. And it would be literally right where you left off. And that and that’s great when you’re revising to cut, and you don’t have to like make a mark and like, Okay, go search for this or anything like that. It’s just right there ready to go. I think the other thing that I had really been struggling with was how to deal with, say, 70,000 words of a manuscript and trying, if I want to go back and fix something, or maybe I get an idea for something that needs to come later, I’m just want to write a paragraph about it. Like, I just didn’t know where to put those things and moving things around wasn’t easy. And if I want to go back to that scene where, you know, they were running from the bad guys at the funeral or whatever, like I have to scroll or do some kind of search, whatever. And so Scrivener, you know, just lays out all of your scenes on the sidebar there. It’s kind of like your file system for your computer, but for your manuscript, right. And so you can just jump to whatever piece of your manuscript you want to look at, or work with, very easily. And so those were kind of the, the two things that sold me on it immediately. Even though those were kind of simple things, it’s so cheap, I was like, Well, you know, I and I, you know, my logical brain does love being able to like have a good, organized overview of what I’m working on so that I can in because I’m a pantser I think I almost need that more in some ways to help me sort of keep everything organized and neat, which makes other parts of the screen happy.
Trevor Thrall 14:29
Yeah, because the way Scrivener is organized, you know, even as you’re panting you are basically creating a series of breadcrumbs that that help you be organized not necessarily to plot but to be organized, which is helpful,
Gwen Hernandez 14:43
right? Yeah, I can see the structure growing I can see my progress in a very efficient you know, easily easy to visualize way. And you know, I do sort of right to story structure in a very loose way like that’s the map I use is like I know I’m heading toward this kind of a scene. Even if I don’t know what’s gonna happen in that scene, and so I can kind of see, you know, how far along Am I very quickly?
Trevor Thrall 15:08
Yeah, right. Right. So, so you embraced it. You never looked back. You never never tried the competitors for very long I take it, you just sort of rolled out Scrivener.
Gwen Hernandez 15:18
Now it’s really worked. Yeah. All right.
Trevor Thrall 15:20
So that’s, that’s awesome. I’m trying to remember and I just cannot. I, you know, you tried too many programs over the years. And I bought Scrivener, many years ago, it feels like forever ago, but I literally couldn’t tell you probably 2010 2011, something like that. I thought it was super cool. If I could find the old computer that it’s on, it probably still has a novel or two that I’ve kind of sort of plotted out, you know, sort of thing. I thought it was great. didn’t really fit what I was looking for, and you know, for nonfiction writing at the time, and it’s changed a lot since then. So I don’t know what I would think if I used it now. But But how did you go from someone who was six months into a writing career and just learning this new tool to winding up writing Scrivener for Dummies, because that’s like, everybody knows the dummies guides like, holy crap, you wrote Scrivener for Dummies like, you know, are you a billionaire? I mean, like, Wow, that’s amazing. I wish that did that happen?
Gwen Hernandez 16:23
That’s a fun story, for me, at least. So I had started writing blog posts on Scrivener, because that was back in the time when all the editors and agents were like, you must have a blog to have a presence on the web. And you know, start, you know, I was like, What am I going to fill this blog with? So I was just like, well, this cool program I had, the friend that shared the software with me, then later asked me how I did something when we were like working together. And it was like, Oh, that would make a good little blog post, I’m sure other people would like to know. And so then I was like, Well, this is fun. I’ll just go looking for features to share, you know, and I would just kind of like discover more stuff and write a blog about it. And then go looking through the menus for things that sounded fun. And so I did this whole series of blog posts and got, you know, the Scrivener guys, because this is only a couple years after had been released. We’re sharing all my blog posts,
Trevor Thrall 17:20
and they’re hungry for the audience, too, because no one knows who they are yet,
Gwen Hernandez 17:24
right? Yeah. And there weren’t a lot of people talking about it back then. And so it just kind of kind of lucked in the timing wise. And then I had enough of a following after a while that people were like you should you know, write a book or teach a class or whatever. So ski is me, let me take a drink real quick. I actually started teaching online classes through some of the writing chapters, and then eventually kind of broke out on my own and started teaching them on my own platform. And somebody had pitched the idea of a Scrivener book to the for Dummies people at Wiley. And then he couldn’t fulfill the contract for whatever reason, something came up. And so then they went looking for someone who could still write the book. And what they did is they went out on Twitter and put out like, Hey, who are the Scrivener experts and got back a bunch of names. I had no idea this was going on at the time. And apparently my name came up enough that they included me in that email they sent out so they they invited several different people to consider submitting a proposal. And when I got the email, I thought it was a joke like a hoax. I was like who’s gonna cuz you know, at this time, I was writing fiction and trying to get agents and editors to give me any attention whatsoever. So to have an editor just email you and be like, Hey, you want to submit a proposal for this book? I’m like, where’s the camera? Yeah. So I looked him up. He turned out to be a legitimate person. And I emailed him back. And so then I submitted the proposal, and they accepted it. I might have been the only one who did I don’t know. But um, yeah. And so then I had like four months straight up. Oh, wow. So they were wanting to in a hurry. Yeah, it was already overdue, because they’d had it on their publishing schedule for earlier that year. So I, I think I signed the contract in like February or early March, and it was due at the end of May.
Trevor Thrall 19:26
You use Scrivener to write done for dummies. So there you go.
Gwen Hernandez 19:30
I mean, yeah, I honestly don’t know how I would have done it without Scrivener because, you know, allows you to keep, like I use the color coding to keep track of for revisions, like where I am in the revision process. And especially for a book like that with a traditional publisher where you’re having to submit each chapters, it’s done. And then it’s coming back with editorial comments and you still have chapters you haven’t even started yet. So kind of keeping track of all that it was very useful even though once I You know, put it in Word that I had to work with them and work through the comments section and all that kind of stuff, which, you know. But just just having that sort of project management dashboard in Scrivener to keep track of it, and then I could bring the finished pieces back in. So, you know, I have the finished versions in there as well. Yeah, it was very, very helpful to be able to keep track of all that. Alright, so
Trevor Thrall 20:24
it’s Question four, you’re writing, writing a dummies guide? Like, okay, it’s basics, it’s for dummies. But did you learn anything about Scrivener and the writing process as you’re writing that book,
Gwen Hernandez 20:38
I definitely learned that there were things that I thought I understood a certain way that I didn’t. But because they they used the developers were the subject matter experts who went through the book and did an editorial run. So there were a couple things that, you know, were clarified and stuff. But yeah, I learned a lot, because I found that, like, I might know how to use something on one level, but in order to be able to explain it to people in a way that was deep enough for the book, I had to go deeper. And so then I would be like, I didn’t even know I could do that, you know, footnotes and things like that, that I don’t use on a regular basis, especially. So yeah, I definitely came out of the writing process, knowing even more than I did when I went into it, which really helped a lot. And
Trevor Thrall 21:24
yeah, so if there was, if there’s anyone listening, who hasn’t tried it yet, what would the pitch be to them to say, Look, you should give it a whirl, like what’s, what are the things that you think kind of really help sell it to someone who’s looking for a new tool.
Gwen Hernandez 21:42
And the first thing I do now is tell people if whatever they’re using doesn’t have any pain points, keep using it. In also, you know, Scrivener, we always talk about the the steep learning curve with Scrivener. And I think it’s, I don’t necessarily think it’s steeper than anything else. It’s just that people come into it, they’re like, I want to use all of it. Like how many people want to use all of Excel or all a word, or, you know, very few who uses Mail Merge on word, right? Use that it’s there, though, right, but who cares? For most of us, but on Scrivener, like, I would definitely use that. And that and that right? And so they want to know it all, and then they get overwhelmed. And so I, I definitely recommend starting with the basics. Like I talked about the structure. So you know, adding a new document for each either scene or chapter or chunk, whatever, like smallest chunk, you think of thinking, for me, that’s scenes, and and then being able to keep all of the elements for your project in one place. So it’s not just the writing, like in Word, it’s just the writing, right. But I can also have pictures, I can have all of my character notes and settings, I can store links to web pages, I can, you know, bring in PDFs or whatever in
Trevor Thrall 23:03
your research and your writing and sort of what so you don’t think leaving and come back and kind of divert your attention. And God forbid, you should go to the web again, if you’re actually trying to also get writing done in a particular session. Right. So yeah, and
Gwen Hernandez 23:17
and just not having to like have a different, okay, well, now I have to use Evernote or OneNote for all of this. And, you know, and I’ve got, I’ve got sticky notes all over my desk, and I’ve got you know what I mean? It’s, it can all be in that one place. So to me, those two things are the biggest, and then just being able to capture your thoughts and ideas for or either changes or for future things. So like, let’s say you have an idea for a future scene, it could just be as simple as you know what, when they get to this point, I think they should XYZ. And where do you normally put that right, I used to put at the bottom of my Word document, they just keep pushing it down. And now I can just create a new document, right? The little notes, there’s a synopsis section, right? So I can write little notes in the synopsis section of what I think should happen here. Maybe I have a snippet or to have dialogue that I think would be fun to include. And I put that in there. And then I get back to where I was, but I don’t have to worry about losing that as I’m going.
Trevor Thrall 24:13
Yeah, absolutely. That that particular issue is the reason I abandoned word quite some time ago. And that I could because I’d be writing something and you’d be like I have a note. But there’s nowhere in that manuscript for the note. So where the hell does the note go? Well, no, that’s going to another document. Ah, and so, you know, over the years, I have naming conventions for all these sub documents that have to be in the same folder because I can’t keep non manuscript things in the management. And that just turns out to be a waste of time and also confusing and no one else can find it. And so, you know, not very optimal, and has depth is one of the programs that that solves that and I think a way that I frankly I’m surprised word hasn’t adopted at this point. It mean it’s so sensible to me. I don’t I don’t get it. But
Gwen Hernandez 25:01
yeah, I mean, where it has like the outline feature if you’re willing to use Styles and all that stuff, and some people do, but it still doesn’t handle. I mean, you can leave comments. But those are always like, which were Scrivener has comments also, which I love comments and annotations. So you can leave a note right at a position like I do a lot of huh, I think a better word or like, she should say something witty here or whatever, like, needs a better opening line, you know, all these things? How does CPR work? Again, that kind of stuff. You know, all that stuff attached the exact spot that needs the help. But yeah, still, there’s like so many different types of notes, you can leave yourself in different places to put them depending on what your need is. So kind of takes the place of like you said, all those separate documents are all just collected. Yeah, yeah.
Trevor Thrall 25:51
I’ve been working with some some writers who have done sort of an incredible job of, you know, making Scrivener their home base for all those different efforts that they’re that they’re doing, from research to world building to character sketches to scene design and organization plotting. And then, of course, the writing. And one fellow in one of the writing groups I run even has, you know, I teach people how to use this system called the 12 week year for writers and, and he even uses Scrivener to incorporate his 12 week year and his weekly plans and all his scorekeeping, he’s got it all in Scrivener, because he’s like, I didn’t want to have to leave. Because I’m sitting here working away. And the end of the day, I want to sort of, you know, update the plan and where I’m at, but why why would I want to leave? And I was like, Well, I don’t think you shouldn’t like, he really figured out a great way to do it. I was like, wow, that’s a pretty, pretty flexible tool to be able to do all that. So it is
Gwen Hernandez 26:43
that’s what, that’s kind of the beauty and also the frustration for people. Right? It’s so flexible, that it gets overwhelming when they don’t have something that says, here’s exactly how you do it no matter what. Right? Yeah. But it works for almost everything I have, like, clients who are lawyers, academics, people in seminary, obviously, novelists, nonfiction writers, you know, and I use it for my blog posts, I have one thing that has all my blog posts and newsletters in it. So I have everything from the last 10 years, I can go back and just search like how I talked about this before, what did I say? Do I want to do it differently? Do I want to copy that? You know, that kind of thing. I use it to keep track of my appearances. Like if I’m going to give workshops and all the things they said in the email plus what I sent them like all in one place. So there’s kind of a lot of different ways to utilize it. I wish I’d had it in grad school. Yes, word. So you can keep track of like how many words you’ve written and how your goals and all that kind of
Trevor Thrall 27:52
stuff, which I think is kind of a a bottom sort of basement level requirement at this point for I think for a reasonable writing app. I mean, that’s such a simple thing to have. And yet, you know, we’re it’s not particularly friendly about that either. Not that we’re trying to dunk on Microsoft Word, guys, don’t come get us but like it’s just
Gwen Hernandez 28:11
not made for super long form. Writing, it’s made for business writing. And honestly, even then, I think I would still rather organize everything in Scrivener and dump it into Word as like, here, I’m handing it into you,
Trevor Thrall 28:24
I don’t suffer anything, except for if there were the people who need to collaborate in Word, I will eventually dump it in Word to send to them. But otherwise, I don’t really see any reason for it anymore. But alright, so. So I want to sort of zoom out to sort of more of a 30,000 foot view and ask you your thoughts about the importance of tools, writing tools for writers, because I’m a tools person. And and I, I have spent I don’t know how many hours you know, downloading probably more apps than any other person has ever downloaded that has to do with writing just because I’m interested in them. And I want to see how they work. And I’m always looking for another one that does things better or more interesting or more beautiful or whatever. But for me the reason that really route that I do it is that I get a lot of joy from having the right tools. And I they inspire me to do my work in the first place. I hope they also helped me do better work, but but really, I don’t even care. I just I’m happier when I use them. What What’s your take on tools? I mean, did Scrivener give you sort of a feeling that’s important to you as you write or and what other tools do you use that you love?
Gwen Hernandez 29:39
I think obviously finding the tools that work for the way you work is is key. So whether that’s as simple as like a Google Doc or Scrivener Yeah, it for me Scrivener. I think it makes me feel calmer, because I open up my manuscript and I know everything’s there and I can see exactly where it all is and I know exactly how to find it and So I’m not spending mental energy on worrying about where all of my stuff is. And I can just write some people open that up, and it stresses them out. So I get that too. That’s fine. I recommend using the blank many blank template tools, but yeah, any I think so tools can become a distraction for people, they can become something that just like wastes time, or the you know, they get sucked down into playing with it and don’t actually get anything done. But I think when you find the tools that work for you, obviously, they’re worthwhile. And I and even if they take a little time to learn if they really are going to help you, you know, then I think it’s worth it. Other tools that I use, I’m trying to think this for writing itself, pretty much. Don’t you care what computer you use? And Mac girl?
Trevor Thrall 31:00
Yep. So there? Yeah, that’s a big I mean, I mean, frankly, I don’t I know a lot of writers who will never write on anything that’s not a Mac. So that’s one.
Gwen Hernandez 31:09
Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t always I spent a lot of time using Microsoft computers, you know, all of my jobs for Microsoft. But some point my husband like convinced me to switch and I was like, I don’t know. And then you got to relearn all your shortcuts or whatever. But now I find it so much more intuitive. And when I go back to Windows, it, you know, it works, it’s fine. It just feels a little clunky to me after being a neck, so, but you know, no shade anybody uses Windows, or Microsoft, it’s, there’s a Scrivener for for absolute windows as well. I do use some tools like like, you know, I’ve used things like packet to just kind of save things that I think I might want to read later. I’m actually honestly the best part of that is I often don’t go back and read it later, it turns out, I didn’t need it. So that’s like the number one most useful thing of pocket. For
Trevor Thrall 32:02
me, it’s just checking off, I don’t need to think about it anymore.
Gwen Hernandez 32:06
Because I get all excited about things and collect all these all these reading materials. And then realize I went way overboard, and I really didn’t need that. Or it’ll be something somebody sent me that’s really interesting. And I’ll be like, Oh, just add that to my reading list. And then I don’t waste the time reading it now. And then I’m happy that I never got around to it. So yeah, I try to really kind of keep things clean and simple. And so yeah, Scrivener and like a notebook because I do still like to write things. On paper when I’m sort of brainstorming what can come next, or that’s their backstory, or just anywhere, I’m stuck. And I’m trying to figure out a face to start asking myself questions on paper. Sometimes that works better than typing it out.
Trevor Thrall 32:50
Yeah, no, that’s interesting, because I think a lot of people have that kind of kinesthetic need to touch and mess with paper and pen or something, you know, to get the brain in certain in certain places that the keyboard is some somehow it’s great for product production. But sometimes it’s not it maybe it’s too mechanical or something and our lizard brains need need paper. So I don’t know. Not really. Yeah,
Gwen Hernandez 33:14
I mean, a whiteboard works, too. I wish I had a giant whiteboard, because I like I like the fact that I’m not setting it in stone. It’s like erasable even even sometimes pen and paper, like I won’t use my journal, I’ll use just generic paper that I can throw away because I know it’s like it doesn’t have to be
Trevor Thrall 33:35
engraved, I have a leather bound journal that I’ve had for 10 years and is has all blank pages, because nothing I’ve ever thought is important enough to write it down. And I’m paralyzed. I could never write that thing. Whereas actually what I run on legal pads, I’ve burned through 1000s of legal pads in my life, because they’re all unimportant pieces of paper. So anything write down, it’s might be good. It might not no big deal. But reading the journal has to be permanent. We’re gonna read that later. Funny.
Gwen Hernandez 34:00
Yeah, I just use my journal for daily like, I think things out, like, more struggles than actual brainstorming most the time. Sometimes I will do some brainstorming in there. But it’ll be like what’s on my mind? Sometimes they’ll just be like, I have to remember do this today. That’s it for the whole day. And it’s just more of a centering thing in the morning sometimes, but yeah, the brainstorming, I’m like, let’s get this three ring binder or whatever, the spiral notebook over here. And as much as I hate wasting paper, I feel just fine. I like to use old printer stuff. And now we don’t do anything anymore. So I don’t have any old documents I can write on the back of anymore.
Trevor Thrall 34:40
So So tell me, you wrote the book. I’m assuming the book did very well has tons of great reviews on Amazon. And you’ve been doing all sorts of business since then. So how much time do you spend writing versus teaching at this point in life?
Gwen Hernandez 34:58
Um, it varies. So I do private training, a few hours a week of private training. I’ve tried to put all of that on like Wednesdays and Thursdays now, because I used to have it all over the week. And I found it, it’s really hard to change my focus. So I’m trying to sort of consolidate that. And, you know, I’m trying to write like, or I guess I should call it, I’m trying to get away from using the word writing, because I don’t I do a lot of non writing manuscript work. So it’s called Writing creative time, you know, two to three hours a day of creative time of actively thinking, or writing or whatever about the or researching all of those count, I have to remember that all those counting are all active. I’m like, Just this last year, so as me trying to learn to love my process instead of fight it. So yeah. And then like, when I’m creating a new online class, that’ll just be all I do, usually for like a month, is just spend three or four hours a day on that, knock that out, do some other business stuff. And then I’m basically done for the day. So I usually try to do it in between books. So when I finished, I get a break. So how about a new class, give my brain a break, do something different?
Trevor Thrall 36:12
So tell me a bit about the different classes you have and what they’re good for what what kind of people would find them useful?
Gwen Hernandez 36:19
Sure. So I have a fundamentals class, and a compile class right now. And the fundamentals classes is geared for beginners. And it kind of gives them all of the most important basics to get them started, there’s really not a lot of bells and whistles on that one. Because those tend to overwhelm people. And so it’s just like, all the core stuff that you need to know to get working in it. And then I did compile next, because that’s how you get your work out of Scrivener. And that is the one that paralyzes a lot of people. And you can do it the really quick and dirty way and just get it out and then work with it in some other program. Or, you know, I’ve got the whole thing on how to how to produce it for publishing, basically, ebook and PDF and all that. Yeah, I mean, I do all of my own books, directly from Scrivener into formats that can be uploaded to the retailers. So my next class that hopefully will be later this year is intermediate kind of the in between all the fun bells and whistles stuff, the color coding and the split screen and actually might have split screen in the first one. But like, just all the extra little things, snapshots and all the cool stuff that a lot of people don’t know is there.
Trevor Thrall 37:34
So give tell us one cool pro move that most people probably don’t know how to do, but like that’s totally awesome.
Gwen Hernandez 37:43
Okay. Honestly, I think that I haven’t already mentioned, I guess I’ll say snapshots. Because it allows you to save a version of the document so that you can make changes to it without losing your original text.
Trevor Thrall 37:59
Yeah, I wish I had had that back when I was writing my dissertation, because I wrote one version. And then I thought it was GARBAGE. So I wrote a new version. And I didn’t have a copy of the old one. And then I realized I liked the first one better. And then I had to recreate that again, if I’d had this kind of approach where you know, I could just kind of keep each iteration nearby and that would have been so useful.
Gwen Hernandez 38:24
It’s like a little stack all under the same document. So you don’t even have to like duplicate it and put it into a separate folder. Yeah, yeah, I mean, I do that I have like an unused scenes where I kind of throw old things that I’m not using. But if I’m just gonna revise, then I use snapshots. So awesome. Yeah,
Trevor Thrall 38:41
sounds fantastic. All right. So this has been a fantastic conversation. I think people listening who haven’t yet tried, Scrivener are probably now dying. If they haven’t already downloaded, they’re going, they’re going to they’re going to check it out. So tell people where they can find out more about your writing about your courses.
Gwen Hernandez 38:59
Okay, um, Glenn hernandez.com is my main website and you can get to everything from there. I also have a Scrivener classes.com That is just devoted to the classes and training. So that’s where you can find all of my stuff and just Scrivener has 30 day free 30 use free trial. So nothing to lose.
Trevor Thrall 39:22
Right? Yeah, I that will definitely I can tell people from experience that you will, you will know sooner than 30 uses, whether you’re something that is going to work for you or not. So that’s a pretty generous offer. I think so. Yeah. Fantastic. Glenn, very great to talk to you today. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about Scrivener and your writing.
Gwen Hernandez 39:43
Absolutely, and congrats on the book and getting everything going with your community. So thanks for inviting me. Thanks so much.