Forget the jetpack. Where is my idea-to-blog app?
What does it take to note, write, edit, and publish in one place? And why is it so hard to write away from a computer?
I don’t have the time to write anymore. And I think that tech is partially responsible for this, as I am lacking an end-to-end (idea jotted down to blog post published) tool. I’ve got notebooks, a personally hosted wordpress blog, medium and evernote. And still, every day, I dream of something bigger and easier! To do THIS ->
I want to write. Writing and drawing calm me down. They are my zen, my meditation. Thing is, they take time. And require special circumstances and supplies (paper, pen, pencil, keyboard, internet connectivity…). So much so, that I have not managed to properly write in a few months, and it makes me sad.
The one thing I have done the longest is, in fact, writing. I used to write before I knew what shapes letters took. My dad occasionally still smiles at a few “notes” of mine in his old diaries. (I seldom wrote on blank paper, I wanted to annotate others’ notes, it seems).
Writing is something I absolutely need to do. This is how I have come to realise that I am, in fact, a writer.
Writing on holiday is tricky
A month ago, I went on holiday to Cyprus and Crete. We played on speedboats, discussed life the universe and everything, had the best sushi in western europe, and swam. We swam a lot. There was no time to write, no time to draw. Many ideas were born, and most disappeared because I didn’t have the possibility to record them right then and there. (speedboats and iPhones don’t get along)
There was time to read, but all you need is a book and somewhere to sit. Easy when you’re on a beach. It also doesn’t require an internet connection.
Last week, I went to Mykonos. Again, much time for reading. I learnt my lesson though and brought a notebook. That helped. Whenever I felt like it, I did some sketches, jotted down ideas, and wrote a little bit. With a pen. On paper. It was good. (Leuchtturm’s new sketchbooks are a-mazing!). I can’t share the handwritten things on a blog though.
And, let’s face it, when you have this to look at, you don’t want to be reading, writing, or doing anything else but staring in wonder at the possibilities of water, air, and light.
Now I’m back at work, and I can only write here, on Medium.
Three platforms, no end-to-end solution
WordPress crashes or glitches too often and doesn’t do certain things in the iOS app (yesterday I could no longer upload images…). I don’t dare write on the desktop/browser, because it might lose things when I do “update” and the proxy times out. I don’t dare do so on mobile, because the automatic backups only catch some of the content (and drive me bonkers when it mysteriously opens an older version with missing text?!). And of course network timeouts apply there too.
Evernote is not accessible from behind my work firewall, so I can no longer quickly jot down an idea, or edit a sentence, or anything at all using a keyboard. I still do it on my phone, but that’s no way to write a blog post. Speed of writing is important when couching ideas, and tiny thumb keyboards aren’t enough.
Medium is all fine and dandy in that I like writing on it, but it’s difficult and painful to extract what I’ve written to also add it to my own blog. Also, I cannot edit my drafts from my phone or tablet (you need to rethink this guys), meaning I have a dozen drafts, and nothing to post. Ideally I’d edit them later, from home, spending more hours (from the usual 8–10) in front of a keyboard & screen WITH an internet connection. Unappetising.
From idea to published post: I only want 3 things.
Ideas just happen. Going cross-platform, as Evernote have done, means an idea can start anywhere. I had that with Evernote. I miss it.
Time to write appears anywhere. Often I’ll be on the tube into the City, or heading home, when I feel like writing or editing something I’m working on. I might be having lunch outside, or sitting in a waiting room. Being able to read, edit and write anywhere (including offline) is very important.
Writers write anywhere (and prefer places with people and light)
=> Use case 1: jot down an idea, from anywhere. Even offline.
I want to show you something. Sometimes, my idea will have started from something I saw, or read. I may have a photo or a screenshot, maybe even a video. I’d like to be able to add that to my story.
=> Use case 2: add images, documents, links
Story is done, time to share. When I was writing in evernote, I wanted to add images (it’s easy to do) in my storyline. Publishing that story after though, was impossible. Not as is. I had to copy the text piece by piece into WordPress, then I had to save the photos one by one, and upload them, and then insert them into the post. Painful? Time-consuming! It would take me easily another 30min to 1hr to simply publish a post.
Ideally, the place where I collect my ideas would be the same place where I can safely upload images. And it would be the same place I press “publish” from, and my story goes out. No more editing.
=> Use case 3: one-click publish
Except this idea-to-blog-post app does not exist.
Evernote can handle collecting ideas, text, adding tags, including documents, links and images. It works offline and syncs later. But it can’t publish.
WordPress can collect text, add tags, and (in theory — this is currently broken on my iOS devices) collect images. It can also publish. But starting to write is slow. (I count 5 clicks -when app is open- before I can start typing…) It works offline and (in theory) syncs later.
Medium starts to write quickly, but it’s only on a connected computer. No tablets, no mobiles, no offline capabilities.
I have sought out “pipes”, tools such as my beloved IFTTT or ZAPIER, which could take my evernote notes and publish them on wordpress. But that doesn’t work. Images don’t go through, formatting gets lost… it just doesn’t work.
Maybe this is the next app someone should build. Except I am already happy with Evernote. So perhaps this is a cry for help to the evernote team. Or to someone who’d want to build a plugin for WordPress and other blogging platforms (someone has tried, it’s called Sentinote, but it’s fiddly).
Please, Evernote, will you help us with that final step: publishing?