Grab a Bucket and Start Bailing

The ship is sinking and it’s time to put your back into it and start bailing water out of the boat, but which bucket do you use? They all look so useful!

Just as I got the idea for this terrible metaphor, I froze. There are too many bit buckets to choose from and it’s time to take a big boy gulp of my own medicine (that I only wrote about last week!) and further refine my writing workflow. Before I get into that (What? Again?!), let’s take a look at the market because this post has a clearly defined trigger.

Look! Something shiny!

Last night I stumbled across a fascinating notebook app produced by @fabulouslyretro called Meernotes, which led to a similar product Pad & Quill. Both are, in fact, fabulously retro, but I don’t think they will end up in my writing stable. Ultimately, Day One is going to be the app I use for journaling.

And iOS apps like these two are only the beginning. A few others in neutral alphabetical order include Daedalus, Elements, Nebulous Notes, Notesy, Plaintext, Simplenote, Writeroom, and Writing Kit. These are just a few and all of them run on my iPhone and iPad with the exception of Daedalus, which has a super cool “piles of paper” file structure that is more functional than it sounds. That’s part of the problem for me though. I don’t need a cool filing system to play with, I need a place to write.

The problem isn’t finding a writing app, it’s choosing one that suits your writing habits and sticking with it. All of these apps share core capabilities of accepting your words and syncing with Dropbox, but likewise each offers a slightly different twist on appearance and function.

Then we come full circle from iOS to the desktop and Mac OS X for a virtually bottomless list of bejeweled bit buckets is available for a writer’s use. Many powerful tools tempt writers with their siren song of features. TextEdit is bundled with every Mac and is enough for most work. If not, Pages and Microsoft Word (among many other word processors) are waiting with a glut of features to catch you. Then, there is the world of text editors where you find TextMate, Text Wrangler, and BBEdit, and don’t get the neckbeards started on vi and emacs. Another goodie for round-tripping from mobile to Mac is nvALT.

Then, there are writing environments like Ulysses and Scrivener. Scrivener is the one for me and just about my favorite place to work couple with BBEdit for its syntax highlighting and advanced text handling. QuickCursor makes short work of switching between Scrivener and BBEdit.

Also, Markdown. And for the record, I wrote this post in BBEdit and posted it with MarsEdit.

There’s more. Groan. While writing this brief piece I also thought about Byword, iA Writer, Mariner Write, Nisus Writer, and VoodooPad and the real bit buckets like DEVONthink, Evernote, and Yojimbo (which I really want to like but it just doesn’t fit into my workflow). I just didn’t have the heart to go back and weave it into this piece.

Now that I’ve inundated you with fiddly bits, give them a review if you haven’t already and pick the ones that suit your needs. Then, delete the others. That’s what I plan to do today.