J. R. Swab

Tech For Bloggers

Categories: [Content Creation]
Tags: [writing], [blogging], [apps], [software], [CMS]

Today we have another mashup with my love of technology and my love of blogging. Over the past fifteen years I always looked for new apps to proofread my work and allow me a distraction free enviroment. I am one to try new apps and technology for the possibility of increasing my work flow. Being an effective and efficient writer makes the whole blogging process easier over all.

Some tools have a large learning curve but it seems to pay off in the long run when we look at productivity. The more productive we are when we sit down to write a new post the better our content will turn out. But also, we can get more done in less amount of time, freeing us to spend time doing other things we love. Such as spending time with family and friends, playing games, or being out in nature.

The Writing

To blog we must write. Anything that pulls us out of writing mode only slows us down and makes producing content more difficult than it needs to be. This is why I choose Vim as the program to use while writing the actual content of my blog post. The only plugin I use for writing blogs is called Vimroom. This plugin makes the appearance of the text more native to the writer.

Without Vimroom, or configuring Vim ourselves, the default display is hard to use when writing a blog. The difficulty comes from the lack of text wraping. Enabling text wraping is easy in Vim but than I found I wanted the number of columns to change. That edit was the precurser to toggiling off my line numbers that I need when programming. Vimroom does all that for me and allows me to use the distraction free look and feel of Vim while using a nice blog style layout.

Appart from the Vimroom plugin, Vim itself has many optimization and effiecency perks that help me get my work done faster. The bulk of the effiecency comes in the editing phases where I delete, move, and replace text. The more time I spend in Vim with the intention to learn more about the program, the faster I get.

While I do not exect everyone to use Vim as it does have a learning curve due to its modal editing style, everyone can use Draft and their "Hemingway Mode." The idea with this is that we just type and forget all the typos and missspellings. Vim does this for me by default and since I know how to use Vim it makes sense for me. But Draft is the next best approach in my mind.

On top of using Draft, I recomend everyone use markdown to format their content. This allows us to stay in the zone as we write and format our new post. The reason is because it lets us add in the formattin as we type. No going back or takin our hand off the keyboard to style font, add lists, or insert a photo. It's all done from the flow of our fingers as our brains flow the creation from our mind to bits.

The Editing

I use Draft in tandum with Vim for their version control. This allows me to send a link to a friend to have the text proofread before I post. The link makes a copy of my work for the proofreader that thef can change till their hearts' content. Once they finish I get a link that shows all the changes the proofreader made and am able to pick and choose what I want.

Draft is a better choice in my mind over Google Docs for this purpose.

However, I do a little editing myself before I send it off to a proofreader. To do this I use Grammarly Premium but you can use the free version as it covers a lot of the obvious issues. If you want a more indepth scan for free I recomend trying Pro Writing Aid. Their tool does not hold back any grammar or typos from you writing. Just make sure to add your post in chuncks of 500 words at a time if you plan to use the free version.

Even though we should use web apps like Grammarly, we still need to have a human read over our work. This person needs to have never seen the work before and should feel comfortable with making edits. The reason we need them to have fresh eyes on the text is because it makes it much easier for them to pick up on any odd sounding lines. We also want them to feel comfortable because we need all the editing to be honest so that our work can live up to its fullest potential.

Making Backups

This probaly is not a common practice amoung bloggers but I feel it is a great habit to be in. Having at least one backup of our work ensures that if the platform we create on (or our server) dies all our hard work is not lost forever. If the platform our work was on originally does go under and we have all our work we are then able to post that same content elsewhere.

I have serveral backups of my content around the web. First is Github, this is because I used Grave as my self hosted CMS with a plugin that lets me click a button and sync my content. This works great for me since every computer I may come in contact with has some way to access Git.

The second place where I have a backup of my content is Draft. This is because I love their version control system for when I have my content proofread by a friend. I then leave it there for safe keeping in case I am unable to access Github for same odd reason. This is not a likely senerio but stranger things happen all the time with technology.

A third and final place I backup my posts is on Pastbin. I do not use this as often for my posts as I used to since learning about Draft but it is a great place to do so. They have free accounts for anyone to create and use as a second or third location online to save text files. If you a want to keep the content private you will need to pay for a pro account there.