How to Write Your Novel in Scrivener's Full-Screen Mode
You sit down to write. You open up your document, type a few words, and then decide to do a little research.
So you go to Google, start typing in a search query, then decide to take a quick peak at Twitter. Forty minutes later, and you snap out of your internet haze to find that you haven't written a single word.
Does that sound like you? It's okay, friend. I've been there, too.
Life offers plenty of distractions to drag you away from writing. Some you can circumvent, others you can't. But at the end of the day, there is always one simple trick you can pull to give yourself your best chance at productivity: writing in Scrivener's full-screen mode.
But, as with every Scrivener feature, there's more to full-screen mode than meets the eye. To make sure that you know exactly how to tailor this feature to your liking, check out the following breakdown!
Exploring Your Two Full-Screen Options
Scrivener has not one, but two full-screen options to make your writing life easier.
The first full-screen option allows you to expand the Scrivener program window to fill the entirety of your screen, meaning you'll no longer see your computer's desktop or navigation bars. To access this feature, head up to the View menu in your program header, scroll down, and select Enter Full Screen.
The second full-screen option not only expands the Scrivener program window to fill the entirety of the screen, but also removes all of Scrivener's toolbars and sidebars so that only your document is present. You can access this feature - which we'll be talking about in full in the next section of this post - by heading up to View, scrolling down, and selecting Enter Composition Mode.
Breaking Down Composition Mode
Composition Mode is the full-screen option that offers the most customization. I also find it to be the one feature that does the most to boost my productivity, simply because of how much of the program it strips away to allow you to truly focus on the task at hand: writing.
Once you've entered Composition Mode, you'll notice that whatever document you had selected is now on a "paper" in the middle of your screen. If you don't see the document you wanted to work on, press escape to exit Composition Mode, select the correct document in your Binder, and head back into Composition Mode.
The correct document should open up this time around.
In order to take full advantage of all that Composition Mode has to offer, move your mouse near the bottom of your screen. A toolbar should appear. Here is what each feature offers...
Text Scale. The first expandable menu - Text Scale - allows you to change the size of your text, making it larger or smaller so that you can find the perfect size to match your preference.
Paper Position. The second expandable menu is called Paper Position. Here you have the option to select left, right, or center. This will change the position of your document "paper" on the screen. Moving the document to the left or right comes in handy if you plan on using some of the feature windows we'll talk about below.
Paper Width. The Paper Width slider allows you to adjust the width of your document "paper" to match your preference. Plain and simple.
Keywords. By selecting the keywords icon, a small window will appear containing your project's keywords. You can add a new keyword as a sibling, add a new keyword as a child, or delete keywords using the three buttons in the bottom left-hand corner of the keywords window.
You can also highlight an existing keyword and press search to find other documents labeled with that keyword. However, note that this will take you out of Composition Mode to show you your search results.
Inspector. To open up another small window containing Scrivener's Inspector, click on the inspector icon. Here, you can use the menu bar at the top of the window to open up all of the Inspector's features.
To learn more about how to use your Project Keywords and the Inspector, check out this previous She's Novel post.
Go-To. By selecting the Go-To icon, you'll open up a three-option menu. Here you can gain access to the files found in your Manuscript, Research, and Trash folders. If you select a document, it will appear in Composition Mode, but the document you previously had open will disappear. Rest assured, all changes will be saved.
Words and Characters. Next up in the Composition Mode toolbar is your document's word and character counts. You can find these to the right of the previous features.
Background Fade. The next feature is the Background Fade slider. In the next section of this post, I'll teach you how to set a custom image as your Composition Mode background instead of the plain black screen. Using this slider feature, you'll be able to fade that background in or out to suit your preference.
Collapse. The last icon in the Composition Mode toolbar - the arrows - allows you to exit Composition Mode.
Changing the Writing Backdrop
Want to customize your Composition Mode background to a pretty picture of the beach or a character collage or that really cool fantasy map you've been working on? No problemo!
To change the background, head up to View, scroll down, and hover on Composition Backdrop. This will open up a few options, including No Backdrop, Choose, and a list of images you have recently added to your Scrivener project.
To select an image from your computer, select Choose. This will open up a window that will allow you to navigate your computer files and choose the appropriate image. Once you've selected the image, press Open. The next time you enter Composition Mode, the image you selected will appear as the background.
You can then use the Background Fade slider we talked about earlier to fade your background in or out. If at any time you want to change or remove your background, simply head back up to View, hover on Composition Backdrop, and make the desired change.
So, are you ready to kick procrastination out and usher productivity in? Give one of Scrivener's full-screen modes a shot! Already using full-screen mode? I'd love to hear how it has helped you shed bad habits and improve your writing life.
Share your story with me in the comments below!
P.S. Still need to purchase Scrivener? If you enjoyed this post, as well as the other tutorials in the Story Writing with Scrivener blog series, would you consider making your purchase through one of my links? I make a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you.