Posts Tagged

writing

As a full-time professional writer, I’m always on the lookout for utilities that will improve my workflow and help provide a much needed boost in efficiency.

Today we’ll take a look at thirty of the best utilities around to help serious writers in their work. Whether you want a better way to work with Markdown or need something to help you plot out the scenes in your next novel, this roundup has just what you’re looking for.

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Most people have started to cringe at the idea of installing yet another text editor on their computer, especially one that promises distraction-free writing environments and Markdown support. It starts sounding familiar to apps like iA Writer, WriteRoom and Byword.

You must keep in mind that the word processor isn’t the tool keeping you from being able to crank out that perfect novel, blog post or tweet. The writing is still ultimately up to you. These are tools and should be respected as such. Getting a better text editor isn’t going to make you a better writer- no more than a nicer hammer, guitar or paint-brush set is going to make you a better handyman, musician or artist.

With those warnings in mind, let me show you around Macchiato, a Markdown-centric text editor.

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I am a fiction writer with a (mostly) completed novel, several novels in progress, dozens of short stories, a couple of screenplays, and a million sketches for future projects. I am also a marketing specialist who writes white papers, brochures, and websites, and an academic who drafts long articles, essays, and reviews. In short, I’m a person who uses advanced writing-software to help me craft and manage complex pieces of writing.

My brother, on the other hand, works as a manager in an advertising agency, which means most of his writing takes the form of email. But like so many other people in this world (about 80% in the U.S., according to the Jenkins Group), my brother wants to write a novel.

The question is whether the same piece of software works just as well for him as it does for me. Can Ulysses 2.0 help both beginning and advanced writers reach their final drafts? Let’s take a look.

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I’m a sucker for notebooks. Paper or digital it doesn’t matter. I’ve got a stack of Moleskines right next to my Field Notes notebooks. And you don’t even want to know how many different journaling-type applications I have on my MacBook. Most of these digital notebooks don’t try to mimic a “real” notebook. The few applications that do try to look and feel like a paper notebook have always failed in that regard (though they often have other redeeming qualities).

But along comes Per Se, the new digital journal from Sprouted Software. It’s the first application that actually feels like a three-dimensional, paper journal. Too good to be true? Let’s take a closer look.

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There are so many buttons, windows, and gadgets that can distract you when working at a computer. Have you ever tried to sit down and write something while an icon bounces away in your dock? It’s a frustrating experience. Minimalist, full-screen writing apps are great for keeping these distractions out of the corner of your eye, providing a simple, clear environment where you can let your mind roam free.

Before highlighting our collection of these apps, I’d like to point out two things. First, choosing a new writing application won’t make you a better writer, nor will it magically motivate you to write. These two qualities need to come first.

Second, if you’re spending time researching new minimalist writing apps in the time you should actually be writing, some priority adjustment is in order. Send today’s article to Instapaper, and come back to it after you’ve met your writing target for the day!

With that out of the way, let’s move on to take a look at a few simple applications that might help to make writing a more distraction-free process…

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We live in a busy world nowadays. What with our e-mail, text messaging, and even phone calls interrupting our flow, it can be difficult to sit down and write something of substance. And when it comes to multitasking on the computer, well there are almost always ten windows open at any one time, and if that Apple Mail icon starts bouncing, we know it’s time to go get our dopamine fix…

Because of these distractions, there have been a crop of writing programs that have popped up for the Mac and iPad recently that strip away all of the apps running in the background, letting you focus on the task at hand: writing.

But is any of this stuff necessary? Is there any reason why you can’t just sit back with your laptop and a good word processing program and get the next great novel written?

Let’s talk this out after the break…

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If you’re anything like me – you’ve bought a fair number of Moleskine and other notebooks in the hope that you would journal and keep track of your busy life a little better.

Journaling has been proven to de-stress as well as calm the business of your mind. However, writing out long hand is slow – almost as if your hand can’t keep up with what’s rattling around in your head. I’ve always loved the idea of keeping a journal or diary on my computer – a la Doogie Howser – but never really found a program that prodded me to keep up without spamming my Growl notifications or E-mail inbox.

Then I was asked to take a look at Chronories, from the popular Mac software development firm Synium Software, based out of Germany. I was surprised at the great Mac integration of the application, as well as how automated it was in recording little details from my day that made writing a few thoughts down a little less painful.

In this review, we’ll take a look at journaling with Chronories on your Mac, and see if this app can once and for all push your journaling from a vague resolution into a regular habit.

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Scrivener is an application for composing virtually any type of writing. It is the work of Keith Blount, himself a writer who had been unsatisfied with all the writing applications he’d used over the years. He decided to teach himself programming and built his own unique writing tool. I and many other writers are very thankful that he did.

After more than two years of work, Blount and his growing team at Literature & Latte recently released Scrivener 2.0. If you are familiar with the first version, you may not immediately notice any changes to the Scrivener screen, but believe me—there are changes.

The overview of additions and improvements takes six pages in the new manual. Mac AppStorm featured a delightful and thorough review of version 1.5 in March. Today we’re going to take a look at how Scrivener 2.0 differs from its predecessor, and what that might mean for writers looking for a software solution.

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An essential tool for both web and software developers is a text editor. Text editors streamline the process of working with code, and save time by providing shortcuts for repetitive tasks. Text editors are also useful for other web users – for example, they are very handy for tidying up text that has been copied online, before pasting it into a blog or word document.

Fraise is an app that sits at the ‘basic’ end of the market for text editors, and performs these basic (and some more advanced) tasks well.

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Keeping a diary may not be half as popular as it used to be, but the habit of maintaining a record of events across your life is certainly not gone. It’s a great way to reminisce, and look back at where you’ve come from.

CallitADay is a great app from Expersis which lets you keep a daily diary on your Mac. This review will cover CallitADay’s winning features and flaws, and see what else is out there in the way of diary apps.

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