Question

What is your favorite Stack for writing?

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klickreflex's avatar
3 months ago

I've been using Day One for years for journaling. I like the fact to have to my most private thought in a space that is separated from other forms of note-taking. Also it's great that it has E2E, automatically saves metadata such as location and weather and allows images, audio and video. On the downside it has started to feel a bit bloated.

I use Notion for writing that:
- needs to be shared or collaborated with others
- profits from rich embeds and nested child pages
- Is directly related to a project that I manage in Notion already (e.g. Copy of a website relaunch)

I just recently came back to using Bear for thoughts and ideas that don't fit within the above frames. I just love Bears UX and the light feel to it. I've spent quite some time to make the tagging system work well for me now.

Whenever I try working on something longer I keep coming back to Ulysses. I'm a sucker for such beautifully designed and great to use apps and I spend a bit too much time finding the perfect setup – and separation of concerns.

And then there's [[Roam]], constantly on the fence of questioning all of this, because it works so well with my brain. Nesting and linking with transclusion on a block level has really blown my mind. But I'm still a bit hesitant going all in, given the fact that it's still in a very early stage and rough around some edges and will not be the most economic tool in my toolbox.

3 points
assaf's avatar
3 months ago

For quick drafts, notes to self, etc: Simplenote

I have two requirements, a) good sync to access from whichever device I'm close to, and b) the least features: this is about simplicity and impermance. Start here but then move it elsewhere or lose interest and delete.

For collaboration: Quip or Notion

Have been using Quip since forever, still think it's the smoothest rich content editor for team collaboration. Like Google Docs but with a polished UX and native iOS/Mac apps. Unfortunately, stagnated since Salesforce acquired them.

I don't like writing on Notion — the block-based UI gets in the way, but it's the better tool for assembling and keeping content around. For me it's the databases. Ended up using them often enough, that it made sense to migrate from other apps.

For public audience (eg blog post, presentation): run through Grammarly and Hemingway App

Grammarly when I'm more concerned about it being “correct” (ie corporate audience), Hemingway when I'm optimizing for readability (or speaking). Typically do first drafts elsewhere, then run through Grammarly/Hemingway. Grammarly too slow for actual writing, and lost text on Hemingway before.

I'm one of those who think as they write, so typically the first draft is just to figure out what to write in the second draft, and that one will change much into a third draft. So I don't mind moving the writing from app to another, literally a writing stack.

(This response written in Simplenote and copied over)

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @assaf )
3 months ago

You've got a great point on Notion. I love using it for keeping track of team notes and projects, and the block editing style is great for organizing content outlines and pulling ideas together from multiple sources. But for longform focused writing I far prefer other, simpler writing apps.

And as you said with both Hemmingway and Grammarly: I've lost text in WordPress and other CMS before, so I much prefer to write in a native app that works offline, and then copy from there and paste into Grammarly and other editing/collaboration/publication tools.

1 point
qthdh's avatar
3 months ago

Notes: Apple Notes when I need to jot down something really quick. Otherwise, Notion.

Blog posts: Notion or Google Docs. It boils down to my mood or feeling. Sometimes I just love the writing experience of Google Docs.

Diary: Notion.

I tried Roam Research after hearing Nat Eliason and Anne-Laure Le Cunff praising it fanatically. I can understand the usefulness of two-way linking (which Bears kind of does too) but it's not my thing. To me it's really just like the name suggest: a tool for research.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @qthdh )
3 months ago

Roam really is best for research. I recently used it to pull together notes for an article about Roam research and how it ties into internet history, and it was perfect to see the connections between ideas and how different things fit into different parts of the article. Great for organizing and connecting ideas.

But to actually write the article, I switched back over to Ulysses. Can’t beat a focused writing app that’s designed to have a nice writing experience.

1 point
KarthickMurari's avatar
3 months ago

Recently started using Notion.so. Pretty good in organising and love its neat formatting capabilities that make otherwise a boring writing process more interesting.

1 point
tmvst's avatar
3 months ago

I started writing only this year, but I have this 'pipeline' for my thoughts:

  • nuTab for saving random thoughts and links through the day; I go through them every evening to save what still interests me and discard everything else
  • Notion for extensive notes (I might switch to Roam or Workflowy later)
  • Ulysses for the actual writing (I want to use markdown and haven't found a better option... matter.md looks promising though)
  • Gatsby for publishing on our blog (I just copy the markdown text to a file and add some metadata)

The first part was missing for me until a few weeks ago. I get most of the ideas while browsing the web and I didn't want to leave the browser just to take a quick note or save a link. Haven't found a good solution for this so I built my own :)

1 point
CookieDuster_N's avatar
3 months ago

still on g.doc + Grammarly though I look over my shoulder at Notion

1 point
maguay's avatar
3 months ago

This is a fun one—my stack changes around, but generally here's what I'm using right now:

  • Something to store ideas and notes: Right now, using Tot to write quick notes down, Notion for more actionable notes, and Roam Research to organize longterm notes and connect ideas. Drafts is another great app here, especially since it has actions to do stuff with your notes automatically (e.g. send them to other writing apps, add them to your to-do list, etc.).
  • Somewhere to write. Once I have ideas together, I'll write longform content in iA Writer or Ulysses, the two writing apps I go back and forth between the most. Both are great; the former's simpler and focused, the latter has a ton of organization tools and handy features like a way to split or merge documents.
  • Somewhere to edit. If working with a team on a piece, I'll then paste the text into Google Docs to get edits. Its collaboration features are best-in-class, even if it's not built for Markdown. And I'll also run the text through Grammarly to double-check.
  • Somewhere to publish. Then you need a CMS to share your content if you're writing for the web. We have an in-house CMS at Capiche (as did my previous job); otherwise, WordPress, Ghost, or Kirby (which I use for my blog) are great options. If writing for print, I'll typically use Pages to format the finished copy. If publishing an eBook, LeanPub is a great service to turn markdown documents into ePub/mobi books. If writing something to save personally or share with my team, I'll save it to Notion (which closes the loop).
1 point
Youcedom's avatar
3 months ago

Notion is great for ideation, quick notes, long texts, and collaboration, so I use it for pretty much every step of my writing process right now.

I don't use Grammarly, so I export to PDF whenever I need to print or mail a manuscript for corrections. Oddly enough, the creative world is still reticent about the cloud.

1 point
imaginedesigner's avatar
3 months ago

Google Keep & Notion

1 point
augiwill's avatar
3 months ago

I use ommwriter for distraction-free writing. It helps me concentrate on the quality of the writing.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @augiwill )
3 months ago

That was one of the first focused writing apps I used. Brings back good memories!

Do you keep the typing sounds and background music on in OmmWriter while writing?

1 point
ashpodel's avatar
26d

It may depend on what the goal of your writing is. I am in the process of writing a book. Initially my stack was Ulysses, Hemingway and Google Docs. I would start in Ulysses to get to a draft, edit for simplicity using Hemingway and then move the final draft of a section or chapter to Google docs (for sharing with my publisher).

Until I found Scrivener. Even though it looks like it has a dated UI, and a bit of a learning curve, it is actually more ergonomic than Ulysses' more modern (but also low-contrast and homogenous) interface. Scrivener really helped facilitate the non-linear process of writing longform. I am planning to use it for composing blog articles as well. Plus it doesn't have a subscription like Ulysses does. With all my software subscriptions adding up, I've started to prefer the older payment model of buying an app, using it however long I want and then choosing to buy the next big version, but only if I want to.

I digress! For quick thoughts, I've tried a bunch of apps in the past, and I really liked iA writer for a brief spell. I keep gravitating back to Evernote. I've used it for years and the search works really well. I realized that with this kind of writing, findability is more important for me, to be able to look up a thread or an idea that I may have had at some point. Having it all in one place and searchable is more important than ease of writing.

For medium-form work-related writing, like a product requirements document or a discussion document that I may need to share with someone, I've been trying Notion, Google Docs and (surprise) Dropbox Paper. Google Docs just works, because even though it is ugly (the interface and default style), most organizations use GSuite, so there is no extra step needed for collaboration. Whereas with another product like Notion, I first need to invite them to my workspace, and then they sign up etc. Notion is also so SLOW to launch, especially on mobile, and their SSO has failed on me more than once.

I came to Dropbox Paper through an unexpected turn of events. My computer broke and I had to use Dropbox's website from another device, Notion was refusing to let me log into my account, and the Paper link was right there. So I clicked and I was hooked. It's fast. It lets you create a taxonomy of linked document like Notion does. It has fantastic image galleries, and the tables. Man, the tables are so well-done. Anyway, before I start sounding like Paper shill, it's become my new daily notebook for to-dos and more.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ashpodel )
26d

Interesting, I'm using a similar process to you with Ulysses for core longform writing, Grammarly to double-check spelling/grammar, and Google Docs for collaborative editing. I've had a Scrivener license for years, but never invested the time into learning it more deeply. Though, I did always find its index-card-styled notes interesting.

iA Writer is lovely; it's my simple counterpart to Ulysses, what I write notes and shorter stuff in. Evernote I keep around to reference older notes, though I stopped using it over time and ... never really replaced it. Its web clipper is still its best feature.

Fascinating backstory on how you started using Dropbox Paper! I need to give it another shot. Does it have suggested Google Docs-style edits yet?

1 point
ashpodel's avatar
@ashpodel (replying to @maguay )
26d

Actually, I didn't use the index-card notes feature much in Scrivener. It was a few tiny things that added up.
The three things that made a difference for a longform piece of writing like a book compared to Ulysses for me was:
a) I needed a little more formatting in the text itself. Markdown is great, but ultimately it is a markup language, which means you only see the actual formatting after export. Except having actual headings and visual formatting also impacts the writing experience.
b) Ulysses interface is all varying shades of a neutral gray, and Scrivener uses a lot more subtle color. Icons in the sidebar are colored, notes area is yellow, sidebar is a cool gray. When you are dealing with 200 pages worth of content that reduced cognitive load helps.
c) Reorganizing a single piece of writing in Ulysses is a pain. Scrivener just makes it easy to break down a piece of writing into many thoughts and then re-organize them later for composition.

Saw you mentioned Tot in your other answer, looks cool, will check it out.

I don't know if Paper has suggested edits/track changes yet. For me it's currently a Notion replacement. More digital everyday notebook, less a tool collaboration. Perhaps the best analogy is that I am using it like a bullet journal.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ashpodel )
25d

Great point—especially for print publication, Markdown can fall short. Works well for my needs primarily publishing online for now.

Interesting note on the color. This is a problem with modern interface design.

In Ulysses, I’ve used their option to split sheets, then rearrange the sheets in the sidebar, then merge sheets ... which is only slightly better than cut and paste.

Tot is great for writing down quick snippets, almost like a paper notebook. On the iPad I keep it as an app on the side when I’m working, so I can just swipe from the right in to bring in notes.

Amazing to me that nothing else yet has as good of suggested edits as Google Docs.

1 point
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