There are days  that I feel that I have to isolate myself from all distractions when I write. Typically that means shutting myself in the bedroom with my noise reduction headphones and pray I have no dogs going crazy over the sound of my neighbor’s mower, saws, and weed whackers.

Because we are in the dead of winter it’s pretty quiet right now and the only distractions I really have to deal with are my own self-inflicted ones—checking email, commenting on Facebook, surfing the web, and getting coffee refills. But once I’ve decided to really focus on my assigned task, I’m pretty good at tuning out the noises, turning on Antisocial, and just write. Well, sometimes I get distracted by Scrivener’s screen. I move things in the binder, I play around with the folder colors, I resize the screen. In other words, I  procrastinate. When I’m done with this fiddling around and really, really don’t want to be distracted from writing, I use Scrivener’s Full Screen Composition feature.

Once I’m in this mode, it’s just me, a black background, and a white sheet of paper. There’s no binder, no editor, no icons, no distractions (with the exception of the Jack Russell terrier who is whining to get attention).

But the beauty of Full Screen Composition is that all the other features like the binder and the sub-features of the Inspector are still accessible. That means you don’t have to switch back and forth between screens. And if you like playing around with the look of your distraction-free screen, you can customize it to look exactly the way you want it.

So… let’s get to the very basics. From the binder, select a document or create a new one. Go to View and choose Enter Full Screen, or just hit the button on the toolbar that has two arrows set diagonally and pointing to each other.

This is what you get:

Screen Shot 1

The default background is black; you’ll notice down at the bottom the control strip bar. This hides itself so you can have 100 percent zero distraction. Let’s take a closer look at the control strip and see what it can do (you can click on the image above for a larger view).

First off, on the extreme left, you’ll see Text Scale. This means that you can make the print as small or as big as you want it. I like it at 150 percent. Next is the Paper Position, which you can shift to the left, the right, or keep it at it’s default center position. If you don’t want to see any of the black background, you can widen the page or conversely make narrow it, by using the Paper Width feature. I keep it that the default, which is the standard paper width. Here’s a neat trick: if you want to change the height of the paper, hit option and Paper Width switches over to Paper Height. Using the slider, you can adjust it to whatever height (or width) you like.

Now we get into the nitty gritty functions that are included in the Inspector, like Keywords. Click on the icon, and a small (and adjustable) panel appears. You can add your keywords and move the panel wherever you like on the screen if you wish to keep it open.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.01.28 AM

There’s also the option to open the Inspector. When you click on that, another panel will open (again, adjustable and moveable) An aside: if you do adjust the size and move it to a different spot on the screen and later close it, Scrivener remembers the settings the next time you open it. You’ll see in this panel, the drop down menus that include all the options from the Inspector.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.11.52 AM

If you want to look at another document, you don’t have to switch back to the screen that shows the binder. Just click on the Go To icon and you can select a different document.

With Words/Character Count, you won’t be left in the dark of how much (or little) you’ve written.  You’ll always know whether you reached your daily goal or not.

Lastly, there’s Background Fade. Here you can control the transparency of the background by moving the slider.

To exit Full Composition Mode, you can either hit the ESC key or the two arrow button on the extreme right.

And there are the basics for Full Composition Mode. Next time, I’ll show how to personalize the screen and other neat tricks.