/ Stack

Writing Tools

Preface

At least in the context of work, writing consumes the majority of my brain power each day.

Finding the toolkit of text editor(s) that match my writing workflow has been incredibly time-consuming and taxing over the years. That said, I haven't switched tools for a good while now, so I'm feeling confident in sharing this.


Currently Using

Quip

Quip has become my favorite word processor after a multi-year, on-and-off, love-hate relationship. I use Quip for work as well as personal projects today. It has all the right features, and nothing more than it needs. There have been times when I wish "Quip did this/Quip had that," but began to appreciate the value of simplicity and collaboration over the years. Quip really is a beautifully built product.

Google Docs

I still remember the day I first tried Google Docs in 4th grade and being utterly shocked that 1) a web-based word processor could nearly meet Word in feature parity and that 2) real-time collaboration was possible. Over the next decade, the product has really grown into a mature product offering that is essentially 1:1 with Word. Docs really has set the bar from the day it was launched on March 9, 2006.

Ghost

For many different reasons, I ultimately switched hosting my personal writing from Medium to Ghost after they announced the 1.0 release. The markdown editor has been a delight to use, the visual customization has been easy to work with, and I haven't looked back since switching (in August 2017).

Microsoft Word (Desktop)

As much as I'd like to forget about Microsoft Office, the fact remains that the majority of the world simply runs on .docx (which one can argue is part of the appeal of building software in a nascent industry).

Word has seen its fair share of changes, but the fundamental processor is the same today as it has been for decades. It is by far the most feature complete and functional (often too much so) document editor available, but been playing catch up with Google Docs in cloud-syncing and true real-time collaboration.


Deprecated

Notion

One of the few writing tools that has truly pushed the boundary forward for what it means to be modern text editor. Modular pages, markdown compatibility, dynamic sections - Notion is the one product in this space that I keep revisiting every so often, just to check for updates.

iA Writer

Used iA writer for personal note-taking. Loved the writing experience - one of the best "clean" experiences there are. Felt like writing on a blank slate. Ultimately couldn't justify using it due to poor syncing and desire to use an all-in-one tool (lacked any collaboration functionality).

Bear

Felt like a much better version of Evernote when it launched. I stopped using it early into its product evolution because Quip could replace both Bear as my personal notes and Google Docs for my work notes. I have friends who love Bear and tell me I should give it a second shot.

Microsoft OneNote

Gave OneNote a strong shot for a month with daily use during a consolidation experiment and forcing myself to use my iPad Pro. Ultimately felt like it was confusing to navigate around and overkill for daily notetaking, and not a good fit for pure writing.

Evernote

Used from 2010 till around 2015. Very feature-rich, but was mind-bendingly slow and clunky. Very little real product innovation, and constant redesigns pushed me to look elsewhere.

Medium

When it was first introduced, Ev Williams' Medium rocked the blogging world. I loved it, and - at one point - even used it commonly for even mundane tasks like taking notes during classes. Ultimately the updates and annual pivots bore me down enough to switch to Ghost.

Hackpad/Dropbox Paper

Beautiful product, and "just works." I used it primarily for personal note-taking, less writing. Stopped using due to wanting more functionality and - at the time - limited offline support. Dropbox has since introduced an offline-mode, but I've switched to Quip.

Pen and Paper

Finally shed the notepad and paper. Loved it while it lasted (for the 20+ years I did this), but ultimately the analog to digital transcription I would have to do after every meeting/note was too bothersome to continue. Only downside is during meetings; notetaking on a laptop or iPad may seem rude.

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