New Writing Workflow
For about three years now I have used the iPad as my primary device for work and personal use (I have a Mac Mini that I remote into when something calls for a task that is more efficient performed on a desktop). I prefer the iPad because it fits my mind and attention better because, even though it can do some multi-tasking, it excels in shutting out the noise of other applications and notifications (thanks especially now to Focus Mode feature) which can distract me from my task at hand. Using this device and input transition I have struggled for many years to come up with an efficient method to use both the hardware and a system I feel comfortable with to write for online publishing. Until now!
I come professionally from a background in IT, and for many years I worked in a console text-based environment (even back to DOS 3.3 days!). As years went by and my career transitioned into a more administrative role, I never lost that need of comfort by having a text based system to get information out of my head and into the system or application that I needed to process my work. It wasn't long after my transition to iPad only that I discovered Drafts, which to this day is the app I use the most on a regular basis. If you are an iOS (and now it also works in MacOS) user, I highly recommend giving it a try. It's free to use and only requires a paid license to activate some additional abilities (which I have happily paid for and use and it helps support this project). As a matter of fact, this post is being authored in Drafts (more on that to come later). So all this to say, I wanted to be able to do my writing in Markdown using Drafts.
There's a lot of noise out there right now for writers talking about creating a 'digital brain'. This 'digital brain' movement has many forks with terms like PKM, MOC, Digital Garden, Zettlekasten (search any of these terms and you'll see what I'm talking about if you aren't already aware of them). It was about a year ago that I first stumbled upon this movement and have adopted using Obsidian for this purpose. I am still a novice in learning the Zettlekasten method, with what constitutes a Fleeting Note, Literature Note, Evergreen Note, etc., but I can see how this method has the potential to produce some really fruitful product and Obsidian was a clear winner for me because it stored my information in my system in text files. So as you might expect by now, Drafts works perfectly to feed information into Obsidian. Now I can use my application of choice to create documents (Drafts) and have a sophisticated platform to store, search and find relationships within and between my notes (Obsidian). Win number two!
Now publishing, here's where the door shut on me really quick! For many years I have been a WordPress user (I've even installed WordPress systems for clients to host their own content), and was a real fan boy of their platform. However, with every change and especially with their movement to block editing, taking my markdown/text-based content from my iPad and publishing it was very clumsy. Don't get me wrong, it can be done, but this part of the process was what I disliked the most. I understood the coding and processes to make methods of converting my markdown to html, and even some methods of posting it directly from both Drafts and Obsidian, but the product always seemed to require more edits once it was uploaded into WordPress. I realize that this problem was MY problem and it made sense where WordPress was taking their product and it remains a very nice solution to the majority of people out there, but this text-based old dog was left wanting something else.
Enter write.as. I just happened across this product a few days ago. I carefully read through their pages about the company and their mission and privacy statements, and to be quite honest, was really impressed. Their philosophy on intellectual property, privacy and what is so pure and beautiful about online publishing completely aligns with my own feelings on these matters. When trying out their free trial I saw what I had been missing all this time, the missing link, their editor is simply a plain markdown screen. This means my content can be simply inserted onto their platform and be rendered just as I have authored it – no additional steps required! SOLD! I have begun the arduous process of moving my domain to a new third-party and have tested a few of my more recent WordPress posts to copy over and have uploaded some photos to snap.as (their photography hosting solution – included with my account!). All tests passed with flying colors. Once my domain move and DNS hosting has been completed, I will begin the process of shutting down my WordPress site for good and say goodbye to them.
I have written this post for a few reasons. One, I thought this would be a good jumping off point for any of my old visitors to get a taste of what I meant in my sharing of wanting to have more than photos and hiking on my site. Two, I don't think I'm completely alone in the broader community in having this or a similar preferred workflow, and someone may find some inspiration in my story to check out these products to see how they might be tailored to fit their specific needs. And lastly, I have written just to allow myself the experience of this newfound freedom in sharing my thoughts and letting it just flow to a publication without spending any extra energy that could potentially hinder me from moving on to my next project. I'm excited to see where this “new” workflow will take me and what I might produce in the future!