Windows Writing Environments

You know what I write in most days? Windows.

I like MarkdownPad because it’s simple. It lets me type away and see any styling in real-time. It shows the styles as I type.

It can do so much more than I need it to, but I ignore the extras and use it as a place for words. It’s free to use and $15 to upgrade and get a host of added, useful features like auto-saving and session-management.

It’s never crashed on me. knock wood. It’s a solid little app that does what I need it to do. I save files to .txt or .md and put them in Google Drive. I appreciate the app’s simplicity. It also pairs nicely with another app I love to write in.

Writemonkey is big, black canvas where I can put my words. There’s something about the black page and green text that reminds me of the old days of computing. It has a ton of options and plugins. But I use it as you see it. A big black page with lovely green text.

It feels comfortable to me. I am not saying this is the way all writing should be done. I am saying this works for me.

Find what works best for you and do it. I have found a color scheme and font that please me. It’s not a requirement for me to write. I don’t have to be seated just so with the proper writing tool in the perfect environment.

I just need time and head space to compose words. And these are the tools I’m using these days. On the Mac and iPhone, I have Byword set to the dark mode but I don’t remember the last time I used either.

Of Desktops and Writing Environments

I can’t use a desktop anymore. Growing up and all through college I used a desktop. It’s all I had and all I used. When I wanted to compute, I sat at my computer and I computed. Sitting in a chair, at my desk, in my room.

Now, I can’t bring myself to be tethered to the desk. I have a couple of desktop computers around my apartment. They mostly sit and do repetitive tasks which need always-on and always-connected status. They download files and backup data. They keep my information safe. They sit and serve. They are not what I used everyday. They are not the device I reach for when I get home.

At work I have a desktop still, primarily because there’s no “business reason” for me to have a laptop ((If you ignore the netbook the company bought me as a test group to see whether it was worth getting for other employees. It’s not.)) and that works out.

When I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit down at another desk. I rather grab my iPad or a laptop and sit on the couch or out on the balcony, or even lounge in bed with comfy pillows. Sitting at a desk is constricting. I can’t sit next to my wife and be with her. I can’t interact with her because I’m stuck in a single place.

I prefer the mobility of laptops and the iPad. It fits my lifestyle. It fits who I am and what I want to do.

What I reach for when I arrive home all depends on what I want to do. The iPad is mainly for reading. When I want to read, 90% ((Not counting Instapaper reading time)) of the time I pop open the Kindle app and dive into the latest book I’ve borrowed from Lendle.

In that remaining 10% I turn to iBooks and read one of the PDFs or free eBooks I’ve downloaded. I will fill my water bottle and settle into a comfortable place and watch the pages fly by.

When I am in the mood to write I reach for a laptop. Even then, there is some question about what I grab. If I want to write ((as I am now)) and not be distracted or have to lug a heavy weight with me, the Google CR-48 Chromebook it is. It is super light and has great battery life. ((Currently 7 hours remaining at 92%))

I will open a new window and start making the clackity noise in either Simplenote or my new love, Pillarbox.

When I want to do more serious writing which requires research, referencing and piles of tabs and notes I reach for my main laptop, a Lenovo T61 ((I yearn for the day when I can afford a MacBook again)). It is a serviceable machine. WIndows 7 works well enough though it is no Mac OS.

I turn to Windows only when I need to get serious work done. Usually this means I will open Simplenote in half the screen and WriteMonkey on the other half. It is not the “distraction-free” nature of the writing environments that draws me to them, it is their simplicity and stark design. I like having a color palette other than black text on white background. I like the ability to see the word count and little else.

I can stay on task well enough, flipping between my Simplenote notes and Writemonkey’s clean, dark backdrop to my words. I write in Markdown so I prefer plain text to any fancy WYSIWYG editors. I am a big fan of simplicity and portability since I am a very nomadic writer and often use my iPhone to write on my commute. ((I write far more on the iPhone than I do the iPad, even with the external keyboard))