How I write

Besides any sort of paper or notebook*, my Mac is my primary writing tool. The goal of this post is to help me think through my writing process and hopefully share some insight for you.

I own and have used a ton of writing software and often suffer application overload. There are so many terrific options available, sometimes it’s tough for me to figure out which tool is the best for the job at hand. In this article, I am going to focus on the four Mac apps I juggle most often—TextMate, Scrivener, Pages, and MarsEdit.

writing workflow

The diagram above roughly sketches out my workflow, showing how I often begin working in one application and migrate to others depending on what sort of product I’m trying to produce.

Moving on to the software I use…

TextMate

TextMate

This text editor is maintained by Allan Odgaard over at Macromates and is my go to wordsmithing tool. TextMate is as powerful as I need it to be whether I am just taking a few notes, building a list or designing an article in MultiMarkdown, working on a LaTeX document, or creating a Web page in HTML.

Scrivener

Scrivener

I’m not sure what to call Scrivener, but I believe Keith Blount of Literature & Latte has created the Ultimate Writing Tool.

Scrivener has one of the finest full-screen modes of any writing application in the market for those of us who are easily distracted by shiny things, but that is one of its minor features. There are plenty of reviews that will go into more detail, so here is a short list of goodies:

  • Unique corkboard layout to organize virtual index cards
  • Built-in outliner
  • Screenplay formatting
  • “Snapshot” versioning system
  • Compile for export or print

Sorry guys, this one is strictly Mac only.

Pages

Pages

When I need a word processor per se to format a document for printing, I turn to Apple’s elegant Pages because it makes it so easy to design beautiful documents for printing.

MarsEdit

MarsEdit icon

TextMate used to be my primary tool to write and post my blogs, and I sometimes still do, but now I often turn to MarsEdit for its combination of a text editor with a template-based WYSIWYG preview along with easy access to my photos on Flickr.

Nota bene: Just so you know, this document began as a MultiMarkdown document in TextMate, then exported as HTML and dropped into MarsEdit so I could add the image from Flickr before posting to WordPress.com.


* Pen nerds take note: any decent paper or note cards work fine for me, but I really like using my Lamy Safari fountain pen or my Rotring 600 0.7 pencil.

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