Today I figured I’d cover my current writing workflow.


Much of my writing currently is inspired by articles read by others. I collect those articles from Flipboard on my iPad, Twitter, and a few email newsletters listed below.

Typicall I’ll open the link in my browser and then do a quick scan. If the article looks like it’s interesting, off it goes to Instapaper. The fact is that:

  1. Most sites have a terrible reading experience
  2. Collecting all the possible options in one spot allows focus later

The first item on the list is my biggest push to Instapaper though. There are other ways I could keep a list of possible links, but then I’d have look at their crappy site with ads all over, small type with bad line spacing. Then add the inane comments at the bottom, just terrible experience all around.

The Cull

The process of going through all the articles in Instapaper is an all week affair. I read each one and if I still think that it has something to contribute I keep it. Actually removing articles of little interest and writing are steps that happen at once often. If an article is really good I’ll jump directly in to writing about it.

Each week I probably end up tossing 90% of the articles that I put in Instapaper. Either the article turned out to be totally boring or I just didn’t feel like there was anything to say about it. Doesn’t matter the reason I read about may more than I write about.


Once we move on to writing we get to see MarsEdit. After questioning where MarsEdit fit in my workflow I tried it out and I just can’t find a reason to remove it again. I did a review on MarsEdit as well if you’re not familiar with it.

Depending on my mood I just write in MarsEdit (full screen if I’m not at my desk with the 2nd monitor) or iAWriter or Byword. Lately I’ve been leaning more towards Byword after having some small bugs with iAWriter. Going from MarsEdit to iAWriter and back, just didn’t work and sometimes I’d open it and it would think it could still appear on my second monitor which just didn’t work since the monitor was in another room. Byword seems to not have these issues so that’s what I’m using now.

I also use iAWriter or Byword to work on articles from my iPad or iPhone. Many of my product reviews start there while I’m making sure my 19 month old daughter doesn’t choke on breakfast. Having this segregated writing environment for my own articles (not inspired by or comments on articles) just seems right to me. iAWriter (maybe iCloud) has issues here again. When I go back to writing the article on my laptop I get constant version conflicts to resolve. Byword just doesn’t have this happen.

My other writing tool is Scrivener, which is used for articles that need more research (like the upcoming one on Agile Dev Cycles or Email). These usually have a number of articles to read through on the topic and they are longer. Nothing I’ve tried beats Scrivener for this type of writing.


Now, the articles are written and sitting in my WordPress install as drafts. Here is where I take a look to see if there is any order to the articles. Does one article lead nicely to another? If so I’ll schedule them to suit the order, if not then I just schedule them for the week.

Articles are scheduled to publish at 5am PST but you probably noticed that 5am doesn’t happen. This site is actually on my own MU network. I’ve got sites for my family and a few friends here. While all of the other sites publish scheduled posts fine, this one always misse the schedule. I’ve spent a bit of time (only a little bit) trying to sort the issue to no avail. I end up using WordPress for iOS and ‘updating’ the article which publishes it. So you get them somewhere around 6 – 8am depending on if the kid let us sleep in.

That’s it. See any place where I could streamline my workflow? Did I not cover anything in enough depth.

2 responses to “My Writing Workflow”

  1. James Strocel Avatar

    Does an MU setup streamline the publishing process?

    1. curtismchale Avatar

      Multisite streamlines the updating and maintaining process. To update anyone of my 10 sites (a bunch for family) I just have to hit the main site and update. That’s all plugins and themes. Cut’t down my time a bunch.

      For publishing, it’s really the same as regular WordPress.