Happy New Year of Journaling in Scrivener

By Laura Bergells on

I keep a daily journal in Scrivener. I’ve been writing in a personal journal every morning for decades now. Yet I only started using Scrivener for my journal since October 2015. At that time, I looked for an online template to use, but I couldn’t find one.

Undaunted, I kept writing in Scrivener every morning. I refined my process until I found a technique that works for me. I’ll share my process and my Scrivener journaling template. If you have something that works for you, let me know.

Here’s what my (empty) journal looks like, from the Draft Binder view:

Scrivener Journal Binder

I write in Calibri 14 point. I prefer a large, easy-to-read font. I also set my journal to have an ecru background, because I find that’s easier on the eyes than white. Use what works for you.

Each paragraph is indented. I put a 14pt space between each paragraph. That way, I develop the good habit of only hitting the enter key once for each paragraph. (Cultivating the ‘enter once’ habit will help you if you decide to compile.)

Further, I set up my entire year into 12 monthly folders. Each folder contains one document for each day of the month. I’ll show you the January folder. This is what January 1 will look like when I approach my Scrivener journal:

Scrivener Journal

Every morning is a blank page, all set for me to write. As you can see at the bottom of this screen shot, I also set my daily target of 750 words. With every word I type, I get an update on my daily goal. The white thermometer at the lower right turns to green when I hit my target.

The first word I type is usually the time. The last word? It’s also the time. I get competitive with myself: I like to see how fast I can type my 750 words.

By keeping this simple habit, I know it takes me about 15 minutes a day to write at least 273,500 words every year. (In my Scrivener template, I set 273,500 as my yearly project goal, as well.) I feel that setting personal writing goals helps me in my professional life.

Keeping a journal gets me into the habit of writing every day, whether I feel like it or not. It’s a warm up exercise that keeps the words and ideas flowing throughout the day.

If you’re a fan of writing a daily journal, here is the Scrivener template I developed. Inspired by the work of Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, I call it “Morning Pages“.

Happy New Year of Journaling in Scrivener.

2017 UPDATE: In 2017, I wrote a Scrivener Essential Training course for LinkedIn Learning. In it, I use the newest Macintosh version  — Scrivener 3.0. Get yourself up & running with the latest version of Scrivener in the new year.


  1. Thank you so much for this template. I have been looking for a way to do my morning pages in a consistent manner. This may very well help. Happy New Year to you!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I also keep a journal, but it’s on paper. Just started my 2017 book on Sunday. I’m writing in the evening this year (although I always tried mornings before that) and will really try hard to get one entry a day.

    My goal is to document what I’m up to and thinking. And write down a few ideas. I don’t care about length or how long it takes to write. I do care about distractions causing me to put the journal down and possibly not picking it up before an entry is finished. I feel that by documenting my life in this way, I don’t “lose” days to a bad memory. It’s been working — as long as I keep at it.

    For some reason, I never thought of using Scrivener for this purpose. But it is a GOOD idea, mostly because I can sync by journal between devices and write an entry from any of them. I haven’t played with the iPad version of Scrivener yet, but this definitely gives me a reason to try it since my iPad is always with me when I travel, even if my laptop isn’t.

    Thanks again for sharing this. It’s given me a new reason to fire up Scrivener.

  3. Thanks. Another thing I do that the Literature and Latte people say *not* to do — I keep my journal in a Google Drive file.

    I don’t do this with my professional work, but I feel the need to push boundaries and test. That’s what I feel a journal is for, on a number of different levels.

    So far, after a year and three months — not one single hiccup. My Google Drive + Scrivener experience has thus far been flawless.

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