More on writing tools

When we last left our hero, I was doing a (relatively) good job posting. But like usual, I picked up a gig and dropped the habit.

But with the release of Scrivener, and having had plenty of time to work with IA Writer and Notability, it seemed like a good opportunity to jot some things down.

IA Writer is still a fantastic writing app. At first the non-WYSIWYG approach was an obstacle, but eventually I recognized that it forced me to focus on the actual writing – as opposed to fiddling with formatting.

Notability is also a great note-taking app (I’ve also noticed it’s one of the top 10 apps in the App Store, and for good reason). The Apple Pencil performance is great, and it really feels like putting ink to paper. It’s just that smooth.

Where both are still disappointing is in organizing documents. I know if I sat down and really tried to figure it out, I could get comfortable with how both apps handle it. But it’s still not as natural as good ol’ folders in Finder. To be fair, I think Google Docs folders are kind of wonky, too. And to be even more fair, I know via my on-again-off-again flirtation with iOS development that the OS doesn’t make creating such a system easy, if even possible.

Which brings me to Scrivener. Several months before the iPad Pro became my weapon of choice, I was using Scrivener on my MBP for all my writing projects, paid and not. Scrivener for iOS was finally released a couple months ago, and I got around to buying it today. I’m about to sit down and see if I can get IA Writer, Notability, Scrivener and Google Docs all working in the same workflow.

(I’m using Google Docs as the endpoint because generally, and specifically with the place I’m gigging at now, it’s the file depository of choice.)

I’m going to jot down issues as I encounter them:

1. Syncing issues.

IA Writer syncs to iCloud (how I have it set now), but Scrivener doesn’t.¬†According to the dev, it’s partly because they were developing for both iOS and Android, but mostly because iOS has peculiarities that prevent proper syncing. Fair enough. Keeping everything in a single cloud would be nice, but I guess I’ll have to use Dropbox.

As for Notability, I can backup to Dropbox or export pdfs copies directly to Scrivener. NOTE: A Scrivener project must be open for this to work.

2. Figuring out a workflow

The key concepts I need to remember are that IA Writer and Notability are for composing, and Scrivener is for organizing. In a perfect world, I would be able to compose in IA Writer and access that file from within Scrivener. As it is (remembering that I’m still messing around with all of this) I have to a) compose in IA Writer, then b) export that file to Scrivener…


Okay, so I think I’m getting a handle on what’s going on here. Scrivener appears to save all its data in a propietary format. Individual files aren’t saved as such in Dropbox. In other words, I can’t look in Dropbox for ‘ATextFile’ and open it up. I can, however, send a copy to IA Writer and edit it there.

Frankly, I don’t think there’s an easy way to do what I’d like. I think my options are limited to two choices:

1. Compose in IA Writer and send a copy to Scrivener.

2. Compose in IA Writer and save it to Google Drive. If all files are saved there, it provides some preservation of files – if I can overwrite existing files, that is.