The joy of writing


Just recently I’ve rediscovered how nice it is to turn your thoughts into words and share with others in a frictionless way.

Have used computers since the late 1970’s to write, the solutions over the years have been cumbersome at best and extremely frustrating at worst.

However there is a joy that comes from having a blank sheet of paper, or in my case a blank “sheet” on a computer screen, and just creating prose where the computer device and software app you are using disappear from your consciousness and you can truly enter the tranquil zone of creative writing.

For me this zone comes from a writing tool that provides a distraction free environment and allows me to write in a non proprietary format that has and will stand the test of time with computer and software evolution.

Undoubtedly plain text is the format of choice for computer timelessness and coupled with Markdown it allows you to carry the key formatting with you while still writing in plain text.

Plain text I have written and progressively stored on evolving storage devices since the late 1970’s I can still read today. The same can’t be said for the Wordperfect or MS Word files that were written in a proprietary format.

This is where the magic of a format like Markdown comes in where you can still write in plain text but have your words transformed into bold or italic or a heading and into a completely different format such as a web page or word document at the time you need to use them.

Over the last few years Markdown, or various enhanced Markdown flavours, has moved beyond the computer nerds like myself using it to mainstream where it has become ubiquitous.

Writing in Markdown was the 1st part of the puzzle for me to achieve computer writing Zen.

The really magical step was to have my words automatically synchronised to any of my devices in almost real time so I could leave writing on my desktop computer and take my phone or tablet computer and continue where I left off at a coffee lounge or wherever I wished.

All this without thinking of saving files, or creating file names or transferring files to different device in different formats.

The final nirvana was to be able to write in Markdown in a totally distraction free clean interface, the proverbial “blank sheet of paper”.

Down through the years I have tried many solutions to achieve the frictionless creative writing I’ve described above.

While there are now many solutions available that lead to writing enlightenment my chosen one is Ulysses running on my iMac, Macbook Air, iPhone and iPad synchronised using iCloud.

I use Ulysses now for everything from a short note to creating the novel I am working on as well as the knowledge repository for all the curated information I have collected over the years. It is now my “1 stop shop” for all my writing including this blog post you are reading right now.

With Ulysses I can transform my Markdown into all the popular formats I use, e.g. a pdf, word doc, ePub or a web page, and with a button push publish my words to Medium or my Wordpress web sites on any of the devices mentioned above from wherever I am.

For me this is a dream come true compared to the writing frustrations of the past.

Like all powerful software tools there is a learning curve to achieve all the benefits from Ulysses but for me it has been well and truly worth it.

If you do any sort of writing I encourage you to explore your own solutions that can make your writing effortless and timeless or investigate mine.

I hope you discover, or rediscover, the joy of writing.

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