From time to time I get asked why I use so many different writing tools. That’s a Good Question™, and one that deserves an answer. But we first have to differentiate between devices and applications.
I do about 99% of my writing on one of three devices:
- my iPhone,
- my iPad,
- my Windows laptop,
although not necessarily in that order. The other 1% is for those rare occasions when I don’t have ready access to one of those devices. That’s when I’ll grab a napkin or other scrap of paper and write on it — assuming I also have something to write with.
Or apps, as they’re called today. There are so many available for writers that it’s next to impossible to pick just one that does everything you want it to do.
And that’s where your research skills come in. What? You don’t have any? Girl, how do you expect to be a writer if you don’t know how to research your topic? Okay, I’ll give you a basic outline of (1) how I found apps to begin with and (2) what I did when I found a likely candidate.
Back in the day, Google® was a library card catalog, and librarians were (and still are) the search experts. Research was often a long, arduous task that involved writing copious amounts of notes.
But today, Google has replaced the card catalog for all but the most determined researchers — and even they have their own specialized resources. But for our purposes, we’re gonna stick with Google.
QUESTION: If we came from apes, why are there still apes?
ANSWER: If we have Google, why are there still stupid people?
Wanna know a secret about the single, all-purpose, works-everywhere writing app?
There isn’t one.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but two of my favorite apps — Drafts and Ulysses — don’t run under Windows®. And my favorite blogging tool — Open Live Writer — is only available for Windows. And as much as I like it, I can’t afford to buy a new tablet running any flavor of Windows.
The same is true of Drafts and Ulysses: I can’t afford to buy a Mac. Maybe if I ever win a lottery, but even that involves choosing between buying a ticket or using the money on bus fare to get to a place where I can buy a ticket in the first place. <wistful sigh> And to think I’ve finally fulfilled a lifelong dream: to become a Starving Artist™. (Although I could do quite well without the starving part, thank you very much.)
So here’s what I use and why
IA Writer: Because it’s the best all-around Markdown editor I’ve yet found. And while both it and Ulysses do a great job of properly formatting escape characters such as apostrophes, only IA Writer is available on all three of my current devices.
Drafts: Drafts is another Markdown editor. I like it because I can configure it either to open a new page when I launch it, or return to where I was when I last used it. It’s great for jotting down notes, ideas, and other brain droppings. I have it on my my iPad and my iPhone.
Ulysses: It bills itself as “The Ultimate Writing App for Mac, iPad and iPhone.
A pleasant, focused writing experience combined with effective document management, fast syncing and flexible export make Ulysses the first choice for writers of all kinds.” And while I can’t speak for the Mac version, I can honestly say the iPhone and iPad versions live up to their billing. Also, there’s a 14-day free trial before you either have to stop using it or subscribe to the service.
Open Live Writer: This is the app I use for my WordPress posts on my laptop. It’s free, but it’s only available for Windows.
Of course, it goes without saying
The best writing tool in the world don’t mean a thing if you don’t know how to write. And by “write,” I mean write, edit, rewrite, criticize, tear your hair out, write again, and keep repeating until you’re finally ready to hit that Publish button.
And even then you’ll have doubts.