Welcome to the final day in my series on blogging. Today we’re going to talk about my writing workflow.
I’ve taken a look at my writing workflow twice before:
It’s actually changed since those posts were written, even though one is barely a few months old.
Where it starts
Writing starts with inspiration, and as I said a few days ago much of my inspiration comes from reading. Typically I’ll be reading along and something in the text will spark an idea, so I stop what I’m doing and write out a whole post.
Sometimes my laptop won’t be handy while I’m reading. For example, I might be sitting in my comfortable chair at home, reading on my iPad. In that instance, if something in my current book inspires me, I’ll copy the inspiring text out of the book and save it in Evernote in my ‘inbox’. This step ensures that when I clear my inbox once a week — from my computer — I can put the note into Scrivener and then turn it in to a blog post that ends here.
Where Words Go
All my writing is now done in Scrivener. Blogo is a great application if you want to get your writing into Evernote, and see other possible sources of inspiration for an article, but it had a few little bugs that led me to drop it.
Stuff like having to fight image placement or ending up with duplicate copies of articles. For a while I had one copy that I couldn’t delete. It just sat at the top of my stream of work and…well, sat there being annoying.
Another complaint I had with Blogo was that drafts ended up getting ‘pushed down’ below my current posts. I knew this was due to the fact that Blogo actually connects to your site, serving as an editing interface to the site. I’ve never really loved apps that allow editing of your site content remotely, though publishing is awesome.
I’ve used Scrivener for all my book writing and so I figured it would likely work as my blog writing tool as well. Guess what? It’s a great writing tool.
I currently have four main binders in Scrivener:
1. Final Proofing
This is where my content goes when I’ve got it all written but need to read it over before publishing it on the site. It’s not uncommon for me to have up to 10 articles sitting there, waiting for my final review.
2. In Progress
In progress is where I park the set of articles that are in process. These include articles with a solid outline, or ones partially written. If they’re outlined, that means I’ve really thought them through. Many will even have headings sketched out with a few bullet points and links under each heading.
Some of the in progress content is even closer to complete. Maybe I’ve filled out all the headings with content, or maybe I’ve just done a few of the headings. Either way, stuff here still needs more work and I know it.
Here is my vast treasure trove of things I’ve thought about writing for the site. I really only dive back in here when I’m looking for something to write during my weekly writing sessions.
If inspiration doesn’t hit during my writing session, I come to this list. Typically this process ends up in good writing, though the final product may not be exactly what I envisioned when I wrote down the idea.
Just starting often gets the gears greased so I can keep writing.
If you blog regularly, it’s sort of fun to go back and see your year-to-date word count as you go along. As I write this I’ll be crossing 50,000 words by the end of May. No, word count alone isn’t an indication of awesome writing, but it’s kind of fun to see the accomplishment.
I write in Markdown formatted text. If there was one big thing I wish Scrivener would do better it would be deal with Markdown text by doing bold, italics, links like you see in applications like Byword. Sure, Scrivener handles the text it’s all just text without the fancy syntax support that makes your text easier to read. I can deal with it but I hope a future update includes better Markdown support.
When I’m ready to put up my content for the week I open up Scrivener and start pulling content out of the Final Proofing section. I end up using a copy/paste operation to move it from Scrivener to Byword. Here, I give it another read-through and often end up making a few edits. I also use the Byword preview to make sure that my Markdown syntax is correct.
Byword offers a pretty decent publish feature that lets you send your content directly to your WordPress site. I use this to get my post set up as a draft with the proper title. I wish that Byword populated your categories on your site so that it you could just check off the proper category. You currently can enter them, but typing in a comma separated list is less than optimal and I just skip it.
I still take care of getting a featured image, which is typically a super fun foray into Flickr CC photos of LEGO.
That’s it — my current writing workflow.
If you’re looking to start writing, the biggest thing I suggest you do is not adopt my tools, but to start writing. And to kick-start your writing, I suggest you start reading proper books in the field you want to write about.
Simply starting to write regularly will get your pump primed for writing more, and reading will give you inspiration. If you have nothing to write about because you never try, then the tools you never use don’t matter at all.