2016: It’s a New Writing World in the Cloud

I’m still adjusting to a career as a full time writer.

I’m not complaining, mind, it’s work and it results in pay. But it’s not something I envisioned doing for a career.

I’ve made some of the changes I wrote about last year. I’ve reduced the number of sites I run for other people. That’s been a welcomed decrease in workload.

I’m  using TextExpander even more now, for a variety of different writing projects and lots of site admin-related work.

I’m currently using an older 13” Aluminum MacBook as my primary computer, with regular recourse to my iPad with a Brydge keyboard case, and lately, to a older model Chromebook hand-me-down.

I generally do most of my email triage on my iPad, reading and sorting (and deleting) mail I need to keep, mail I can answer immediately, mail I can delete, and mail I need to answer as a separate task.

I haven’t touched Microsoft Word in a bit over three years, and that’s been wonderful. I’m using Pages via iCloud quite a lot, even on the Chromebook.

I’m also using Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, on the MacBook, the iPad, and the Chromebook.

I’ve finally purchased Numbers for OS X and iOS, and I’m using it via iCloud and my MacBook and iPad for documents that Google Spreadsheet struggles with. I’m new to Numbers, so this has been interesting.

I’m still using BBEdit for heavy lifting in terms of complicated HTML or CSS, cleaning up text files, Perl, and Regex, but I’m using Markdown more than last year, which BBEdit handles.

I hadn’t expected how much, because of iOS 9 and Yosemite and Handoff, I’d be using TextEdit and the new version of Notes via iCloud. I wrote an AppleScript to count words in a TextEdit document, but I need to figure out how to trigger it from the AppleScript menu, and that means finding out where the heck the AppleScript menu has gone. It disappeared when I installed Yosemite.

I’ve gotten deeply into using <a href=”http://get.esellerate.net/get/ALP877983468/default.htm?skuid=SKU81634174866&affid=AFL4151654610&at=”>Scrivener 2</a> and Scapple, because of a new non-fiction book and non-technical book I’m writing. Scrivener makes dealing with primary resources very straightforward; I can have them all in a single file, a file that I can backup easily, and Scrivener offers me a number of ways to organize my research and the current draft. Scapple mostly out of curiosity; I’m not given to mindmaps in general.

I’m breaking my writing sessions into two or three hour chunks, and often, even smaller sessions of 90 minutes or so.

I’ve been writing at libraries more, partly because of the need to do research using non-circulating materials. I’m also deliberately choosing to write away from home, because the walk and the different environment is good for me in multiple ways.

I’m using my iPad 3 and Brydge Keyboard more than I expected to, partly because I can read the iPad screen more easily than my MacBook’s or my Chromebook. I plan to look at Editorial, but so far, it’s been baffling. I’m interested in reducing workflow steps and processes, and Editorial seems to want to add both.

Having rejoiced about being Microsoft Word free, I probably should take a look at the “cloud” versions of the Office suite, Office 365. It includes a terabyte of Cloud storage on Microsoft’s .servers, as well as the full suite on iOS, Android, OS X and Windows. I’d still want local options though, given outage issues common with Cloud services from, well, anyone.




Workflow Changes

Given the release of Yosemite for OS X and iOS 8, I’m taking the opportunity to re-examine and revise my writing workflow. I write a great deal, not only books and articles for publishers, but blog posts and email. I am an Admin for a number of large Websites. Two of the Websites include not only site Admin, but Managing Editor tasks, including answering questions from readers and general user support for contributors. Both of these involves email either to individuals or to one of several private email lists. One of the Websites, Absolute Write, requres a fair amount of user / member  support, including writing (and answering) FAQs, emails, private email lists, local message systems, and the Absolute Write Website and blog.

And then there are the Websites I admin for various writers, and my own Websites.

It’s a lot of daily writing. And it’s fairly constant throughout the day (and night).

I have some workflow tools in place:

  • I use TextExpander on all my iOS and OS X devices, and it’s a huge labor and keystroke saver.
  • I use filters or “Rules” in Mail.app, but even so, I receive around 175 emails from individuals a day, and send about that many or more. ( I’m increasingly considering an alternative to mail.app, at least on iOS, just to reduce main-management frustrations.)
  • I use custom scripts and and droplets for many of my frequent tasks.

These are some of the changes I’m considering:

  • I generally draft my shorter articles and blog posts in BBEdit using HTML. I’m going to look more closely at using Markdown, especially because Markdown is thriving on iOS and BBEdit has built in support for Markdown.
  • I already use iOS a great deal for email triage (especially via my iPhone); I’d like to do more with email on iOS, especially responding to email on the iPad.
  • I’d like to try writing more of my shorter pieces on iOS. I can write longer pieces on the iPad more easily now with the Brydge + iPad keyboard.
  • I do a lot of writing in Google Docs/Google Drive, but for book-length pieces Google Docs is not optimal. I’d like to move to Apple’s Pages as my primary word processor, particularly given the newly released version of Pages with collaboration and sharing via the Web/iCloud and Pages for iOS, as well as on OS X.

I’m sure I’ll discover more ways to improve my workflow as I continue.

Michael E. Cohen’s Take Control of TextExpander on MacVoices

My co-writer Michael E. Cohen got me using Smile Software’s TextExpander because not only does TextExpander make writing on my Mac easier, the iPad app TextExpander Touch makes writing on an iPad much, much easier, and reduces labor and keystrokes.

But I really began to benefit from TextExpander after reading Michael Cohen’s Take Control of TextExpander book.

Chuck Joiner’s popular podcast features an interview with Michael this week. You can enjoy the dulcet tones of Michael’s voice in the audio version of the podcast at http://www.macvoices.com/wordpress/macvoices-1175-michael-e-cohen-takes-control-of-textexpander/. Or, if you wish to gaze at his striking visage as well, go to the video version at http://macvoices.tv/macvoicestv-1164-michael-e-cohen-takes-control-of-textexpander/.