A New Writing Workflow

I read way too much for my own good sometimes. I don’t mean books, I probably don’t read enough of those for my own good at this point, but websites. I’ve always been a junkie when it comes to reading about new software, people’s workflow for getting things done, etc. The problem with reading too much is the tendency to only read and not actually put into practice any of the things that I’m reading about. Markdown can be the greatest thing in the world but if I don’t actually do something with it what is the point? I finally sat down and came up with a new workflow I’m going to try out for a bit. My main goal is to get more writing accomplished. I’m going to stop reading the reviews and tips and techniques and finally get just get some work done.

This post is the first that’s part of that new workflow. Here is what I’m going to do.

Goals

  • Write in a journal daily.
    • It doesn’t have to be long, maybe just a few sentences but I’m going to write something every day.
  • Post something to my main blog at least once a week.
    • Again the posts can be of any length really but they have to be consistent.
  • Programming posts will go to what I’m calling my “Programmer’s Notebook” which resides at radicalrocket.com.

Writing Workflow

  • I will use Markdown for all writing wether long-form, journal, or notes.

    That includes this posting 🙂 This is an important point. I wrote a post a while back asking what the point of it all was? I just didn’t get it. I’ve been reading a ton about Markdown over the last year and it appears to be getting a lot more popular in Mac geek circles; I’m going to try to find out what all the fuss is about. I have selected tools that all support this and they’re noted below. Two tools are missing Markdown support: my WordPress blog and the Simplenote iOS client but more about that below.

Workflow – Tools

Part of the problem of selecting tools to try was that I also had to make sure I selected tools I could use at work. Relying on Dropbox was a no-go because my workplace blocks access to Dropbox. That pretty much left me with using Evernote or Simplenote. Evernote doesn’t make getting my content out easily and one of the main points of using Markdown is to keep everything in plain text and easily portable so that leaves Evernote out. That leaves me with Simplenote for syncing and cloud storage.

This is the list of tools that I’ve chosen to implement my writing workflow.

  • Simplenote
    Simplenote is both an iOS application and a web service. It provides storage of plain text notes with tagging and syncing between devices. The web application also provides a Markdown preview unlike the iOS applications for iPhone and iPad. As a web service Simplenote also provides their services to other applications like nvAlt.

  • nvAlt
    nvAlt is a note entry and storage application sort of like Evernote but it only stores plain text files. It can sync with Simplenote and Dropbox. It also provides full support of MultiMarkdown (a superset of Markdown).

  • ResophNotes
    ResophNotes is basically Microsoft Windows version of Notational Velocity on which nvAlt is also based. Also syncs with Simplenote and Dropbox.

  • Byword
    Byword is a multi-platform (Mac OS and iPhone/iPad) text editing application. It syncs with iCloud and Dropbox. It supports MultiMarkdown as well and contains a window to preview the Markdown output.

  • MacJournal
    MacJournal, obviously by the name, is geared towards keeping a journal but it does a lot more than just plain text. It handles pictures, rich text, etc. It also has the ability to post to various blogging system including WordPress.

So that is the list of applications I’m planning on using for any work that involves writing. Here is how I’m going to use them.

Workflow – Notes

For taking/keeping notes of all types I’m planning on the following workflow:

  • Use nvAlt on the Mac synced with Simplenote for notes.

  • Use ResophNotes on my Windows laptop at work synced with Simplenote for access to notes at work.

  • Use the Simplenote client on the iPad and iPhone for mobile access to notes.

  • Have Simplenote set to sync with Dropbox for a plain text resource that isn’t stored in a proprietary database.

    Both nvAlt and ResophNotes support local storage of notes in either a folder of plain text files or a database. They also both support syncing notes via Simplenote or Dropbox. Since I can’t access Dropbox from work Simplenote I will have nvAlt and ResophNotes sync with Simplenote and have the Simplenote web service sync those notes with Dropbox.

Workflow – Long-form/Blog

Having instant access to Dropbox from work isn’t necessary for my longer bits of writing. For that writing (as I have done for this post) I will use Byword. The places where I would do personal writing I’ll have access to Dropbox from both iOS and Mac so I’ll have easy access to everything via Byword. I can then either copy those postings into MacJournal to use it’s blog posting abilities, copy HTML output from Byword’s Markdown preview right into the WordPress website, or use Blogsy on my iPad. It really depends on where I happen to be working. From my Mac I can do two of those three (no Blogsy there). From the iPad I can do all three.

Workflow – Journal

Like anything else writing takes practice and the best practice is doing something on a daily basis. Even if I don’t have much to say I’ll still write something down just to keep up with the process. For that writing I’ll use MacJournal. MacJournal stores text in it’s own database (which I believe is an index of files in a folder but it isn’t an obvious system) but that really isn’t an issue to me. It has many export options for entries and one of the main features I do like is the ability to password-protect my journals. I don’t want anyone else reading this stuff but me unless I choose to export it. They are my words and my thoughts. I’ll only share them if I choose to.

Finis

So that’s about it. I’m finally getting moving on writing vs. just reading about it and all the wonderful tools out there to accomplish it 🙂 And this post is just a bit over a thousand words….wonder if I could come up with a picture to say all of this instead……

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