Most of what we do here at iMore is write. We put words up onto the internet, and millions of them a year. Managing what we write, however, across Mac, iPad, and iPhone, from idea to draft to final, can often be more complicated than we like, involving different sync solutions and different apps, not to mention our web-based content management system. Each of us has our own workflows, and our own toolkits to accomplish them.
Here's what we're using to write, right now...
I've had enough painful experiences losing work to learn that I need to write "offline" instead of directly in Drupal 7, the content management framework we use for iMore. My text editor of choice, right now, is iA Writer. It offers a clean, distraction-free environment that makes it easy for me to focus on my work. 90% of my writing is done on my iMac, 5% on my Macbook Air, and the other 5% on my iPhone and iPad. iA Writer uses iCloud to keep everything in sync making it easy to jump between devices. I'm also a fan of Byword, but since it doesn't automatically chose iCloud as the place to save, I've opted to use iA Writer -- there has been too many times I couldn't access something I needed on a device when I wasn't home.
One time, I actually used Siri to dictate an entire article while driving to work. It was a time-sensitive piece that I didn't quite have time to finish before leaving, so I grabbed my Macbook Air, dictated on my way, then hopped onto my laptop to paste and publish in the few minutes I had before class started.
I don't really do any writing on my iOS devices. I do however; rely on Evernote for noting things I may need to remember later on and ideas that I come up with for articles. It all syncs up perfectly so when it comes time to refer to those notes and ideas, they're all on my Mac through the Evernote app or through the web login.
When it comes to getting down to business though, I'm really bad at concentrating and getting the task done some days. So, to help with that I cut my internet off and hop into WriteRoom. It's a pretty basic offering compared to a lot of other apps out there but it works for me, especially with the black theme.
Since it's just a blank, black page, you either write or go insane from boredom.
I have tried, and failed, to use my iPad for writing ever since I bought it. Maybe if I had an external keyboard it would be different, but trying to write anything longer than a quick e-mail or a tweet using the on-screen keyboard is difficult for me. So I do almost all my writing on my Macs - a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, or MacBook Air, depending on where I am.
I've written for the Web for almost two decades now, and I've used BBEdit for almost that long. No other text editor comes close for me when it comes to the flexibility and power I'm looking for to edit and transform text. At this point I'm pretty hard-wired to need BBEdit to be productive. I admit that I'm only using a small percentage of BBEdit's capabilities, but it's so finely customized for my workflow, I can't imagine using anything else.
I also appreciate that Bare Bones makes available TextWrangler, a free text editor that uses the same core technology as BBEdit. It makes it easier for folks who don't have the coin to buy BBEdit to use some of the same features. And it's a clever gateway drug to BBEdit, to boot.
If I need to just note down some ideas quickly, the stock Notes app on the iPhone or iPad is the go to choice. It syncs back to my Mac so my thoughts are there when I get back to the computer and start to get down to work.
In terms of the actual writing, I've been a fan of iA Writer for some time now. It's a basic text editor with iCloud sync, so like with Notes, all of my stuff is on all of my devices all of the time. I love the simplicity of iA Writer -- it's just text, no toolbars. I'm also a big fan of the focus mode that will highlight only the sentence you're working on and fading out the rest of your text. Really helps me to concentrate.
From there it's into iMore, add all the Markdown links and off to the Internet!
I do a good majority of my writing on my iMac. It's very seldom I actually write within an actual content management system such as Wordpress or Drupal. There's just been too much heartache when it comes to saving work and getting errors. It's never fun to lose things.
My weapon of choice is Byword. It uses iCloud to keep your documents in sync across all devices and has apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. While I spend most of my time writing on my iMac, there are times I want to get out of the house or the office and write at Starbucks or another local coffee shop. Instead of lugging around my MacBook Pro, I simply take my iPad and a keyboard case. Then when I get home, I just copy and paste everything where it needs to be and embed images. Since Byword supports markdown, I've already gotten all my links done ahead of time.
While Byword may not be the most powerful solution around, it does all I need it to do and it's a great option for students writing papers, editors, or anyone else that wants the flexibility of writing from multiple devices.
I use a combination of tools, depending on what I'm doing and where I'm trying to do it. If I'm driving or otherwise occupied, I use Siri to quickly jot stuff down into Notes. That syncs between iOS and Mac, so at the very least I don't forget about or lose ideas (it's become a natural language clipboard of sorts). When attention isn't an issue, I use Drafts for the same purpose. Drafts lets me type or dictate ideas without having to worry about where it'll eventually end up. As I've said many times before, it's time-shift for text.
When I'm sitting down to write, all proper and formal like, it's almost always in BBEdit on the Mac. I don't even use 1% of its potential, but what I do use is so damn powerful I can pretty much accomplish anything text-based that I can imagine. I write in John Gruber's Markdown, so while the text is plain, it's also formatted and highly portable.
If I have my druthers, however, and I'm out and about without my Mac, I write in Elements, which is pointed at the same Dropbox folder I store my BBEdit work in. That lets me keep working no matter where, or on what device I'm on. If I'm on my iPhone and need to make quick changes on the go, I likewise use Elements.
Elements is just light and easy and killer for Markdown, and BBEdit is a beast. I also make heavy use of Text Expander, both on Mac and on iOS. It removes almost all the repetitiveness from writing and lets me get on with the creative work.
Together, I can get pretty much get done everything that needs doing.
Interestingly, none of us use Microsoft Word. Not even Apple's Pages. We're all using lighter, plainer solutions. Now none of our workflows are perfect. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, advantages and drawbacks. And all of them can likely be improved. So, if you work across a wide range of devices, let me know how you do it, and if you can think of any ways any of us could work better and smarter, let us know in the comments!