The personal blog of Sven Seebeck

How Fixed My Writing Workflow

If you have been following this blog during the last few months, you obviously have noticed my (humble) attempts of optimizing my writing-setup on the iPad. For the majority of my everyday tasks the iPad has become my main productivity tool by now, hence finding the right solution for my writing, blogging and note-taking workflow is somewhat important for me. As you can figure from from my recent posts there was a lot of fiddling involved and I had many moments in which I believed to have been close. Sadly, it never really worked out. I have been on and off with a combination of four different text editors. Even though Byword had been consistently my most used app since it’s iOS release, I still continued using using different (writing) applications for different tasks. Unfortunately in the end turns out to be a mess: Often I started a post in Byword before I then copied the text (for one reason or the other) into another editor (sometimes even more), before I copied it back in the end into Byword - you get the idea. This way I not only successfully created many different versions of one text, but often found myself struggling to figure out where to look for the latest version of the text. Even though I somehow managed to get posts finished, it surely had been a bit of a drag. That is until last week, Drafts for the iPad got released and this mess had an end. I have used Drafts on the iPhone occasionally, but somehow never really got into using it, therefore I was a bit skeptical whether it would add value to my workflow on the iPad 1. The idea of adding yet another step to my humble writing workflow didn’t look too appealing. Sometimes I simply love to be proven wrong. After using the app for a while I realized that it does do all the things that I used all the other editors for. My writing and note-taking workflow has become immediately much more streamlined. After a bit more of a week of continuous use of the app I can honestly say that it made so many things so much easier for me. It has become the text interface to (almost) everything that I usually write on a daily basis: blog-posts, emails, text messages, journal entries… I give you some examples of things that I use Drafts for:

  • Blogging Drafts together with Poster have now become a powerful Blog-Editor for me. I am writing and storing the post in Drafts and then simply use the Open In… feature and hand the post over to Poster, add the title, categories and stuff and I’m done. Perfect. Additionally Drafts seamlessly integrates with Instapaper. Excerpts and links are easily handed over from Instapaper into Drafts, and after a little editing I can have the post on blog (via Poster of course) in minutes.

  • Email I used to compose emails in Byword and then simply used the Export feature to send the mail but that step is now not necessary anymore. While being essentially the same workflow in Drafts I don’t clutter my Document Folder with email drafts or untitled documents. As I generally prefer to write with monospaced fonts I in fact write every email in Drafts. I find this especially useful if I don’t have enough time to finish the mail in one (of course I could rely on the drafts IMAP folder, but I find this generally to cumbersome).

  • Messages I used to write the content of an SMS in iA Writer on the iPad, then opening it on the iPhone, where I via Copy Text manually paste it into the SMS body text. Using Drafts I still write the message on the iPad and open it on the phone, but a simple click on the Message button finishes this task for me. An additional bonus is that I over the time create a repository of standard messages that I need frequently and simply can send them again.

I could continue with this for a while. Drafts quickly has simplified my whole writing workflow (which essentially only takes place on the iPad anyway). Byword 2 with it’s MultiMarkdown implementation continues to have a place on my home-screen for all documents that require a higher degree of formatting, PDF output or are simply files that I want to continue writing on the desktop. As of this moment I am very satisfied with this situation. I enjoy that I can stick to one trusted environment over my devices and don’t have to use yet another application to complete the task at hand the way I want to do. So far it works, and I hope that I will not see the need to fix this.

  1. Which is also the reason for the delay of this post. I wanted to make sure that my first enthusiasm for the application, doesn’t cloud my perception. I’m quite good with things like this. 
  2. If you haven’t used so far, or haven’t updated it yet, I totally recommend to have a look at the latest version of the application.