Early on in my candidature, I made a big change in the writing program I’m using. I am giving Scrivener a go. It has Mac and Windows versions that so far seem to play nicely with each other. I’m foreseeing issues with citation, but it’s designed to export into Word, so at the moment I’m planning to use it to get chunks of writing and ideas out, move them about, and build up chapters organically. At the moment, I’m writing ideas and chunks of text related to papers or key issues, but I think I’ll export those into Word so I can tie in Endnote. Law requires footnoting as well, so I don’t want a giant headache at the end of my thesis if something doesn’t translate, and the way citations look in Scrivener are really distracting for me, so I prefer to write draft text in Word.
There are some great posts on adapting academic work, specifically a thesis, to Scrivener, I liked these ones: start at The Thesis Whisperer, she has several posts on it you can find from there; there’s a detailed technical overview at Qualitative Research; and lots of fancy tips and tricks (colour coding!) at A Law Unto Herself.
I run two main files (binders) for my thesis. One is a kind of “how to” mash of things that I call “Doing a Thesis.” And the other one is the Thesis itself, which sticks to folders on the research questions, my chapter headings, and a folder for my confirmation document and presentation. I like it so much I actually started a binder for my personal stuff, reading I’m doing, notes about parenting stuff… there’s a reason I’m a researcher, people!
I’m finding Scrivener great for jotting ideas and keeping information, and having confidence you’re not going to forget anything. I could use something like Things or Evernote, but I like that in Scrivener I can drag chunks of written work around, and see ideas, people, papers, and links in the same program. I’ve used it for everything from snippets of writing, cards for people I want to contact, organisations I’ve joined, as well as the basic stuff of outlining chapters and my confirmation document. It’s great for holding ideas, not just text. If you haven’t already had a look at it, I’d give it a go.