Archive for the ‘Writing tools’ Category

WordPress is great for blogging, but it has limited visibility

Let’s be honest: blogging—even on WordPress—is a labor of love. Many of us pour out our hearts and souls only to receive comments that far too often are actually adds for products. It’s a rare day when I receive helpful comments.

Not so on Medium

I’m doing more and more of my serious writing on Medium. Don’t know what it is? Here’s how Medium bills itself:

Ideas and perspectives you won’t find anywhere else.
Medium taps into the brains of the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers to bring you the smartest takes on topics that matter. So whatever your interest, you can always find fresh thinking and unique perspectives.

The stories—that’s what Medium calls whatever you publish there—that I’ve written have received positive responses and replies. This is truly a supportive community by, of, and for writers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned pro: you’re welcome here.

It’s free to join

Basic membership is free, but there’s also a premium membership level for $5 a month. The basic membership allows you complete access to stories, but restricts the number of stories marked “members-only” each month.

In addition, paid membership allows you to join the Medium Partners program, which gives you a chance to earn money on your stories. Oh, I’m not getting rich, but at least my stories earn enough to pay my membership fees.

There are also major commercial publications on Medium, and I’ve known authors whose stories have been picked up by the New York Times, and who have been paid the proverbial Big Buck$ for them.

So give it a try

Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t. But what self-respecting writer would ever turn down an opportunity to put her stories in front of a larger audience?

We’ve had a good run, but it’s time to say goodbye. I never used you as an actual writing program; I merely copied what I’d written in other programs and apps and pasted them in to you. So I was only using you as a place to store all my writings.

My first mistake was configuring you to use Dropbox. I wanted to be able to access you across all my devices. But that created a problem: when I launched you, Dropbox had to sync before you would open. And when I’ve got an idea for an article or story, 2 minutes is too long to wait.

So I deleted you from my laptop, after deciding that I’m never going to own a Macintosh, desktop or otherwise.

Instead, I’ve moved all of my files into Evernote.

Why Evernote?

  • Because I can install it on all 3 of my devices—laptop, iPhone, and iPad—and it will synchronize across all 3 of them.
  • Because I can fine-tune my settings to a degree that Scrivener never approached.
  • Because it has a smaller footprint, loads faster, and in general just does a better job of what I want it to do.
  • Because even if I leave my devices at home, I can access it on the web via the nearest computer.

Still, it Hurts

It hurts because Scrivener has been a good friend for the past couple of years. And like any other friend, it hurts to say goodbye.

But nothing lasts forever, right? Just as we outgrow certain friends, so it is with computer applications. And I’ve simply outgrown Scrivener.

An Aside

QUESTION: What’s the difference between an app and a program?
ANSWER: There isn’t any. Software publishers decided that “app” sounded sexier than “computer program,” and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

    Lamott

    I’m spending today migrating most of my writing projects to the Cloud. (As an aside, I’m slightly amused by the fact that after being an IT professional for over 30 years, I still don’t know if that should be the cloud or the Cloud.)

    I use several different programs and apps when I write; some of them do have desktop versions, but only for MacOS—and I use a PC. But they all have one thing in common: they can all connect to Dropbox. If you aren’t familiar with Dropbox, I would strongly urge you to check it out. While there are many other cloud storage services available, more and more programs for writers are making it easier to connect with Dropbox than with any other similar service.

    With everything on Dropbox, I can readily access it from my PC, my iPhone, and my iPad. Besides, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that my years of hard work are backed up in a secure place. And in case you’ve forgotten it, let me remind you of Robyn’s First Rule of Computing:

    BE PARANOID AND COMPULSIVE!

    And as the First Axiom of Robyn’s First Rule of computing says, “It’s not if  you’re going to lose data, it’s when.”

    “A Change is as Good as a Rest”

    That was one of the bits of homespun wisdom my father shared with me as I was growing up. Never mind that I was too young to understand what it meant; the important thing is that it stayed with me, and that now I understand it.

    I live in a rented room in a two-story house. It’s where I do most of my writing. Sometimes, when the weather allows, I sit outside with my iPad and write there. Just the change of environment lets me see things from a different point of view. I feel refreshed, almost as if I’m a different person. This, then, is what my father meant.

    But what allows me to do that is Dropbox. No matter where I am—be it in the house, at a cyber café, at my doctor’s office—so long as I have a connection to the Internet, I can work, especially since I also keep a local copy of my work on my iPad.

    Why the Quote from Anne Lamott?

    Because until I came across it, I had no idea what I was going to write today. And you know something? She’s right!


    Or is it just an excuse?

    Last night my friends Rick and Kirk from Syracuse came to visit, and we stayed up far too late watching Dr. Phil analyze a young man who is, to put it in psychiatric terms, batshit crazy. Nutty as a fruitcake. As crazy as a shithouse rat.

    I rarely watch television. In fact, the few times I have was when Rick and Kirk were visiting. Anyway, by the time I got to bed it was 2:30 in the morning. I woke up at 9 to take my morning meds, and lay back down and managed to sleep until 10:30 or so. After a leisurely breakfast (leisurely because I was so tired it took me a couple of hours to get around to it), I went back to bed around 2:00…

    …and immediately had so many ideas and topics running around my brain that I had to get up and start writing. As I write this, it’s 4:00 pm and I’ve already posted on two of my other blogs.

    This, I believe, is the hallmark of a true writer, as opposed to a hack: when you have to write something that it keeps you from doing anything else until you get it down, whether on paper or as pixels on the screen. The need—not just the desire, but the raw, urgent need—to say what you have to say before you can finally feel able to turn to other pursuits.

    Writers on Writing

    My Pinterest board has over 200 quotes from writers about writing. From the simplest statement (A writer writes) to the most esoteric (Don’t just write—BE a writer), some of the biggest names in literature have shared their insights on just how to write.

    After reading and studying them, hoping for some magic, become-a-writer-overnight scheme, this is what I have come away with:

    Nobody else can tell you how to write.

    Whether it’s Ernest Hemingway, who is often miscredited with the “It’s easy to write; all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” to Evelyn Waugh, who is reputed to have insisted on writing whilst wearing a three-piece suit, I’ve come to realize that when writers offer tips to other writers, they’re not spouting so deep, eternal truth; rather they’re describing what works for them! Nothing more, nothing less.

    Pretty simple, yes? But here’s the catch: I’ve been writing off and on for the past 50 years, and it only took me until now, June of 2018, to understand this “simple” idea.

    There’s No One Way to do It

    Something else I’ve learned is that even for me there is no  one-size-fits-all approach. What works one day might not work the next. Sometimes I’ll sit down and dash off a few lines, paragraphs, or even pages without stopping, then go back and read and correct what I’ve just written. Other times I can’t move onto the next sentence until I’ve written and rewritten the current one until it is perfect.

    Most days I know what I want to say. Other days I pull up a blank page and stare it it, chain smoking cigarette after cigarette (only figuratively—I switched to a vaper a long time ago) until I begin to get the ghost, the hazy idea of what I want to say.

    The One True Thing

    My own One True Thing is based on a quote from Hemingway:

    All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

    This is what keeps me going when I don’t want to write. I write one true sentence, and it goes from there.

    In Closing I’d Like to Say

    This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary. Find what works for you, and stick to it.

    And be sure to check out my Standard Disclaimer.

    Thanks for reading.


    As a writer, I’m always looking out for The Next Great Tool. And while I’ve pretty much settled on Ulysses for novels and short stories, I’m still not completely satisfied with what’s available for blogging on mobile platforms (I’m looking at you, iPhone and iPad).

    On my Windows laptop, Open Live Writer is my program of choice. Unfortunately, it’s not available for mobile devices–they’re just not powerful enough.

    This morning I started reading someone’s blog post about a program called Drafts. It looked interesting, so I decided to take it for a spin, which was easy enough to do since there is a free version as well as a paid version.

    So I installed it on my iPhone. In fact, I’m writing this entry using it. I already have several writing apps on this phone, so why do I keep looking for more?

    It’s quite simple, really: I wasn’t all that smart when I bought my smartphone. I went with the one that had the least amount of memory: 16Gb. Which means I’m constantly searching for more efficient apps so that I can use the fewest number of them as possible.

    And yes, I learned my lesson: my new iPad has 128Gb of memory.

    Drafts

    Formatting text in Drafts is quite simple; it uses Markdown language which is accessed via the on-screen Markdown toolbar. It’s the same language Ulysses uses, which is pretty cool considering that I can export my writing right into Ulysses.

    So today will be a day of research. I’m going to install Drafts onto my iPad, and put it through its paces. My goal is to see what, if any, apps it can replace. I’m also going to see how far I can go with the free version, which will help me decide if I really need to spend money for the Pro version.


    I just installed Drafts onto my iPad and it immediately synced to the cloud and retrieved this post. So far, so good! That means that although I’m still going to use GoodNotes on the iPad, I don’t need to keep it on the iPhone, thus freeing up space for those all-too-crucial pictures of cats.


    I also managed to export this post to Evernote, then copy/paste it into Open Live Writer, my editor of choice on my laptop. It’s really beginning to look as if Drafts Is here to stay! I’ve already replaced Apple’s Notes app on both of my mobile devices, and between Drafts and Ulysses, I no longer have any need for 53’s Paper or Apple’s Pages.

    Tomorrow I’ll take a look at a few more of Draft’s operating details.