An update on my writing workflow

An update on my writing workflow

This pas week had been very intense from a thinking (writing) perspective. Just a few days ago I was sharing my thoughts with about the working workflow I was implementing. I thought I was over with it, until an idea popped in my head and proved to be a good one. Well, for me at least. Everybody is different, but bear with me for a second and I'm pretty sure you'll find some interesting logic in there.

I left you with a plan to use the following tools (not in sequential order) in my workflow:

  • Ulysses
  • iA Writer
  • nValt
  • Simplenote
  • Mars Edit

Some background understanding

There are a couple things to keep in mind in order to understand my choices. I bought Ulysses because it's just awesome and I wanted to make it my main final tools in the workflow. Just before exporting to Mars Edit and make posts available in WordPress. These two pieces of software are just great and I want to stick with them. nValt doesn't need presentation and pros/cons to justify its use. It's just perfect. The integration with Simplenote is a no brainer as well, especially since it covers iOS and OSX. Then comes iA Writer. It's a nice piece of software, perfect for what it is, cover both platforms, etc. But if you go for Dropbox to link all these tools together, you start losing a bit here and there. The first loss is within Ulysses. External sources is great but you have to forget about the most interesting features if you don't use it with iCloud (Keywords, Tags, Markdown XL, etc.).

Oupsss. But wait a second..

The XL made me think again and re-evaluate my strategy. Clearly, I had to find a way to use iCloud in Ulysses, the Simplenote API for nValt and a fall back option with Dropbox (it just works!). So I decided to draw something to get a visual understanding of what I have, how everything relates to each other and what changes were necessary to make it work the way I want. The picture above shows what I came up with:

The first layer is Simplenote. I see it as my little Moleskine for taking notes from anywhere on the iPhone, iPad or my Mac. Jotted notes that will be used for my writing. Whatever I write in there is going to be accessible anywhere. nValt reads TXT files from a folder on Dropbox and from there I can load anything in Byword (yes, you got it, I'm replacing iA Writer with Byword). Let me explain why I picked Byword.

Reasons for the switch from iA Writer to Byword:

  • Preview function
  • Multimarkdown
  • The look and feel of the Dark Theme (including its fonts options)
  • Like iA Writer: covers iPhone, iPad and OSX
  • Direct connection with Mars Edit
  • Publishing options (through Premium in-App purchase)
  • Frequent updates from the developers
  • Like iA Writer: iCloud
  • Like iA Writer: Dropbox

A new workflow is born

So now I can create text files from Simplenote from anywhere, or even in nValt and Byword and the files will be available on iOS and OSX for all these apps. When I'm ready to seriously work/finalize a document I go to Ulysses, copy the file from the External source (Dropbox) to the built-in iCloud and complete my work. Then it's only a matter of minutes before I copy everything to Mars Edit, add pictures and send it straight to WordPress. I could even "publish" a draft from Byword, load Mars Edit to complete, and voilà! And to make things even better I bought a "Marked" license which allows me to preview my text in a very accurate way, it even has Mars Edit in its menu option. What more can I ask? So here's my new tools list for writing:

Some thoughts and conclusion

Nothing is permanent when it comes to software choices and preferences. But this 10 day brainstorming seems to be fruitful. I find myself using the apps to their max, my files are available anywhere and it makes it so fun to write again and again. I like to think of it as a parallel between the process of writing and photography. Between the camera and the print there are lots of steps for one who really wants to achieve professional results. I strongly believe we should always do things with love and patience, pay attention to details and try to make it as perfect as possible. Otherwise, how can you say "I love to do this"? Or "This is amazing, great or beautifully executed"? Get involved, invest yourself, spend time, live your passion. For me it's photography and writing about it.

Good Light!


© Normand Primeau