Gini Dietrich

Seven Tools for Writing Blog Posts

By: Gini Dietrich | June 18, 2013 | 

Seven Tools for Writing Blog Posts“You can’t catch a fish if you don’t put the bug in the water.”Brad Farris, CEO of Anchor Advisors and founder of Enmast

On Saturday, I went out for an early morning bike ride so I could get in the miles on the lakefront without fighting foot traffic later in the day.

At the turnaround spot, I decided to go away from my usual Pandora station and listen to a podcast. I turned on Jason Konopinski’s Riffing on Writing. His latest episode was with my friend and former advisor, Brad Farris.

First, to the two them: I CAN HEAR YOU!

Now on to everyone else.

Word vs. WordPress

As Jason is wont to do, he led Brad down a path about content creation. While Brad doesn’t write for a living, nor does he enjoy it all that much, he does create quite a bit of content for Enmast, a community for small business owners, its blog, and a newsletter.

During the conversation, they ridiculed me because I can open WordPress, type a blog post, and publish it…all within an hour (which is precisely what I’m doing right now).

It turns out, that’s not so common.

But the conversation went from there to tools they both use (you’ll have to listen to learn what they are) and how to get content created when it doesn’t come so naturally.

Brad said something really interesting about content creation in Word. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) he uses Word to create strategy documents for clients, which tend to be very left-brained and logical.

So when he opens Word, he has a hard time turning off that side of his brain to be creative and write something people will want to read if they’re not paying him to write it.

It made me wonder if that’s not the case for a lot of people.

I love writing in WordPress because I can add links, optimize, categorize, add images, and tag the post all at once. I’ve always looked at writing it somewhere else and moving it into WordPress as an extra step.

But what if you hate the interface (which Jason and Brad both said they did) for writing?

Tools for Writing Blog Posts

Following are several tools for writing blog posts.

  1. Scrivener. I love Scrivener. It’s how I’m writing Spin Sucks (the book) and how I’ll write any longer form content that is soon to come. I don’t know how it would work for shorter form content, but I say it’s worth a shot.
  2. Google Docs. I still haven’t caught the Google Docs fever, but I know lots of people prefer it. You can write directly in there, have an editor review it without sending attachments back and forth, and then finalize before transferring it.
  3. Movable Type. This one is particularly good if you have multiple authors. While it’s a little more advanced because you can actually build your website on it and then use the platform for publishing, it does give you the option to only write blog posts with it.
  4. Pen and paper. I know it sounds silly, but it works for many people. Brad said he uses an app on his phone to keep his blog post ideas. I actually keep mine in a hardbound journal with a bicycle on the front (seen above). I carry it with me everywhere I go because when I have an idea, I want to be sure I track it in the same spot as all the other ones.
  5. WriteApp. I like this one for those of you who get distracted easily. It will shut down all of your distractions and not let you back at them until the time you’ve predetermined is up.
  6. WordPress. We’ve covered this, so I won’t say anything more than it’s how I write my blog posts.
  7. MarsEdit. When Geoff Livingston and I were traveling nonstop together last year, I watched him create many a blog post in MarsEdit. I never really got the hang of using it (it felt easier to use WordPress), but he swears by it. You can publish to your blog directly from there so it’s not a two-step process like many of these others.

But the most important tool for writing blog posts? Write every day. Even if you don’t publish every day, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write every, single day.

It’s the only way to get better and it’s the only way to find your voice.

Because, as Brad said at the end of the podcast, “You can’t catch a fish if you don’t put the bug in the water.”

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I’m with you, I use WordPress for most of my posts, but sometimes I will paste in notes I have written in Word about podcast episode I am blogging about. I do understand the distraction angle, but can’t say I’ve really experienced it.

  • I prefer to compose in WordPress for the same reasons you listed. I don’t worry about formatting errors that come from moving documents either.
    Sometimes we spend too much time searching for the “right” tool and not enough actually doing. It is not particularly hard to write posts in a short amount of time, provided you are willing to put the time in to practice your craft.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I’m totally with you, but I also understand it’s not for everyone. For some, writing in WordPress provides the opportunity to get distracted by Facebook and Twitter and other things on the web. I just don’t open anything else while I’m writing.

  • justismith

    I have to begin my writing with pen and paper, and then I move on to WordPress! Pen and paper (aka fewer distractions) allows me to collect my thoughts, scribble to my heart’s content and then organize everything on WordPress.

    • justismith I started to take a picture of the inside of my journal and then was embarrassed by all the scribbles so I hear you!

  • I use WordPress as it’s just easier and makes sense, even more so with the new fullscreen format since WP 3.0.
    I will have to disagree on the “you can’t call yourself a writer” statement, though. Just because you don’t write every day doesn’t diminish someone’s writing talent. They may have more important commitments than writing – family, work, or just good old rest. Forcing someone to write when they don’t want to will diminish the passion, not improve it.

    • Danny Brown I can’t speak for all but I often have to write when I don’t want to or write about topics that may not be of personal interest to me.
      There is merit in learning how to write even when conditions aren’t optimal as well as learning how to find something interesting in a “boring” topic.

      • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Danny Brown I’m with Josh…I force myself to write every, single day because it does make me a better writer. Just like you can’t be a better golfer or a better dancer if you don’t practice daily, it’d be pretty hard to be a better writer if you don’t practice your craft every day.
        Did you ever take piano lessons? You were instructed to practice every day. And most of us hated doing it, but that’s what made us better pianists.

      • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I agree that practice makes perfect. Having said that, usually “writing even when conditions aren’t optimal” means writing for a client or project. Saying that you “have to write to call yourself a writer” isn’t optimal, it’s building the idea that talent can’t take a break, when it can. I see plenty of “writers” pushing content out every day that’s generic and lazy – writing more doesn’t make you better. Real talent does, and that doesn’t have to always be worked on every day.

        • Danny Brown Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes That’s why I said “even if you don’t publish.” It’s the act of writing (not publishing) that makes you better.

        • ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes No, I still disagree, as per the link in the previous comment. Publishing/not publishing crap content is still producing crap content, and doesn’t make you better.

        • Danny Brown ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I haven’t read that link yet, but it’s unlikely I’ll change my mind. This isn’t the first time we haven’t agreed. We can still by friends, though, yes?

        • ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes For now. 😉

        • Danny Brown I don’t have a dog in the fight regarding whether you can or should call yourself a writer. 
          My concern lies in whether people can and should push themselves to write when they don’t want to.
          My situation might be different from others because I am a writer and I earn a living from producing content. Sometimes the deadlines work well for me and sometimes they don’t. but either way I have to produce.
          The question of talent as it applies to writing is different. The most talented writers can produce creative and compelling content with less effort than others can.
          But that doesn’t negate the benefits that come are derived from practice. Writing is a skill and all skills can be improved with time and effort.

        • Danny Brown ginidietrich I just read the link but I disagree with him because he is arguing based upon personal experience and mine proves him wrong.
          Might not mean, I am right, but…
          The goal should always be to produce solid content but sometimes you will fall short even if you aren’t writing every day.
          I am not advocating that we should write to exhaustion and push ourselves to the point of burnout, but I am arguing that we push ourselves.
          If you are making a soup you take a pot, add water, some ingredients and heat it for a set amount of time and the end result is a hot liquid that provides some nourishment.
          Push yourself a bit and you add some spices that turn that soup into more than just a hot liquid meal, it is an experience.
          Maybe you won’t create the experience each day, but if you don’t push yourself the likelihood of having it more frequently than once every blue moon….

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes ginidietrich And that’s the key phrase right there: “personal experience”. Everyone is different; generic advice doesn’t fit personal experience.
          However, even taking all that out the equation, what’s the point in writing every day to “improve”, when no-one sees it to offer feedback on whether you’ve improved or not? We’re often our own worst enemy because we get too close to our own projects. We might think we’re improving when in fact we’re simply stagnating slower.
          This comment from the Study Hacks piece sums it up perfectly:

          A replication of a Charles Bukowski poem called “So You Want To Be a Writer”, it probably offers the greatest advice to any writer or content producer.

        • Danny Brown Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes ginidietrich As they say, lot of ways to skin a cat. I do think practice is important, and that’s something that each writer owns and decides on how to execute. 
          I watched a doc film a while back about standup comedy, several comedians quoted several years as the standard time it takes to put together 5 minutes of solid gold standup. Being good at anything takes practice.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Danny Brown ginidietrich I agree with Josh – if you’re a hack you’re a hack, whether you write daily or not – however, I also agree that to keep the skills sharp – as well as your self-confidence – one must write a lot. Self confidence issues occur whether you’re a brilliant writer or a hack – and writing more than once a week or so helps.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Danny Brown I also do not have a dog in this fight. I don’t even have a dog. But like you, Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes,  I write every day because every day there is writing to do. If not for my clients then for my own marketing — blog posts, presentations, pitches, web copy, etc.
          I also have a pretty expansive view of what constitutes writing. I don’t count my grocery list, but “writing” doesn’t have to be sitting down and writing 2,000 words for your novel. It can be reacting to and thinking over an issue, analyzing it, shaping arguments and presenting it, whether it’s part of a presentation, a comment to somebody else’s blog or an email pitch. 
          That’s all writing. I think too often we define writing as physical output — x # of pages or words — when it’s really the process of analyzing, reasoning and shaping ideas.

        • RobBiesenbach What? The grocery list doesn’t count?? As if.

        • RobBiesenbach Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Agree, that is writing. But for the point of this post, which is about being a better writer for blogging, you don’t have to write every day, and that refers to blog topics, ideas, etc. It’s a piece of advice that is right for some, not for others, but it doesn’t mean others that don’t follow that advice aren’t still writers – they most definitely are.

        • belllindsay Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes ginidietrich So is a political hack the same as a lifestyle hack is the same as an obit hack?

        • Danny Brown  ginidietrich This conversation is far too civil for the online world. 
          Uh oh, you can call this is “spin” but you write every day because improvement isn’t limited to what you can see/show others.
          Sometimes is the confidence that comes from knowing you have spent time practicing your craft so that you can call upon it at a moments notice.
          The orcs never tell you in advance they are about to attack so you need to be prepared to pull out your sword and slash your way through enemy forces until you are saved by the White Rider or are gifted with a ring that makes you invisible.
          Unless you are the QB for the Bears in which case you ought to just lay down because your Offensive Line hates you and can’t wait to watch you get crushed.

        • Danny Brown belllindsay ginidietrich A political hack only lasts as long as his party holds power once that changes he/she moves to broadcast to cover lifestyle until they make the mistake of getting caught in a love triangle and end up the subject of the obit hack.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Danny Brown You know my theory on why Cutler’s O-Line hates him, right?

        • ginidietrich Certainly not my grocery list. I use pre-printed ones from my computer and just check off the items I need each week!

  • M_Koehler

    I tried WordPress and couldn’t work it. I’m gonna go on a limb and say 99% of the issue was user error. I have offically turned into an old man when I started having trouble adapting to changing technology and times. I do the writing that I do in Word and pen and paper. Lately it’s been more pen and paper just for various reasons, but that is less than ideal. I have the worst penmanship, which you have seen and can attest to. I need to try WordPress again and will look into a few of the others you mentioned. Nice and timely post Lil G.

  • I’ve heard this before but am still surprised people find if difficult to write in WordPress and it makes me wonder if they’ve got the view on Text instead of Visual or something. Otherwise, you’ve got a window and a bunch of formatting icons that pretty much resemble those in Word. Now I’d never want to try to write a book in WordPress — that’s a whole other story.
    As for tools, I like Dropbox instead of Google docs. I can access my key files from anywhere on any device and make changes. Sometimes if I’ve got a quick thought I’ll jot it down in the Notes app (I’m on a Mac). Again, that’s in the cloud so it’s everywhere and on everything and I can even email the notes to myself. I’ll also dictate ideas using the voice function or, in the old days, leave myself a voice mail.
    Finally, I’ve been enjoying Evernote a lot. I used to keep files of ideas in folders on my computer — mostly word docs, sometimes with links to other sources in them. Now I keep a bunch of different notebooks — blog ideas, speech ideas, marketing ideas — and I put stuff in there. Links to articles, notes I’ve copied and pasted from elsewhere, etc. And I can tag them — storytelling, visual communication, etc.
    And my library of notebooks is growing. I’ve got notebooks for books I want to read, destination ideas and info for vacations, restaurants I want to check out, etc.

    • RobBiesenbach Good point Rob. I admit to having the “wrong WordPress” view on. 
      I need to start using Evernote. Everything I hear makes me think it’s incredibly useful.

      • JoeCardillo Yeah, I finally broke down and tried Evernote and was really glad I did. I’m never an early adopter — I need to hear about 3,000 recommendations before I try some new app or program because I find very often they offer more “gee whiz” factor than practical help. Or they just make things more complicated. Evernote definitely does simplify.
        Now instapaper I’m still not sold on …

        • photo chris

          RobBiesenbach JoeCardillo ROB!THANK YOU for saying this! I am always, always always the last person to jump on board in a work world where everyone wants to use the new thing. 
           I don’t have the time to figure out the new stuff, I don’t LIKE figuring out the new stuff, and when I DO figure out the new stuff, I am almost always aggravated that it doesn’t work like I want it to. 
          After 3,000 recommendations, most of which must come from my close friends who know how much I hate new things, I’ll “consider” it. 

          WTH is instapaper? Never mind. NEVER MIND! LOL

    • RobBiesenbach Evernote is awesome. Have you tried using the audio option to generate ideas?

      • PTheWyse I did not know it had an audio option! Just checked out my menu. It seems they have a FaceTime camera option as well. So you mean you can dictate notes directly into Evernote? Or is there more to it than that?

      • photo chris

        PTheWyse RobBiesenbach there’s an AUDIO option. Seriously considering giving up my swim to leave work tonight to go home and “play.”

    • photo chris

      RobBiesenbach Loooove drop box! Oh- JUSt downloaded evernote to my phone but that’s it. Haven’t used it yet….It SOUNDS perfect I just need a minute of quiet (or, um, 90, because I am a tecno IDIOT) to figure it all out.

  • Ridiculed? Well, that was a bit harsh. 🙂
    Geoff converted me into a MarsEdit fan sometime ago, and I haven’t looked back. It imports all the tags and categories from your blog, plus you have the peace of mind that the drafts exist offline when WordPress goes hooey – which it has for me. I’ve lost posts and that makes me angry, so I hedge my bets with an offline editor.

    • jasonkonopinski Oh you ridiculed me. In fact, I yelled, while I was riding, “I CAN HEAR YOU!” LOL! 
      Geoff tried to convert me, but I couldn’t get bought into it. I’ve never had the WordPress troubles you have so I guess I couldn’t justify spending $40 for the same thing I can do in WP.

      • ginidietrich Now that I’m on SquareSpace, the WP gremlins have been silenced — and MarsEdit interfaces with my current CMS.

        • jasonkonopinski LOL!

        • jasonkonopinski WHAT did you even SAY up there???  ginidietrich

        • photo chris

          jasonkonopinski ginidietrich Sudenly I’m the insurance guy sitting with the kids,, “ummmm, What?”

      • Gini:
        No ridicule intended — really! I wish I could just sit down in WP and write — I wish your advice was what I needed — but as I’ve said elsewhere — I need remedial help…

    • jasonkonopinski ginidietrich And that’s exactly why I write in Pages first then transfer and do final edit, etc., in WP. I’ve lost entire posts in WordPress also, and won’t ever let it happen again.

      • belllindsay jasonkonopinski ginidietrich I like writing in WP, but not for the big stuff. Half of me thinks they have some sort of algorithm designed to keep you writing quick and easy to digest content, and the lynchpin is it freaks out and trashes your work if you take too long =)

        • JoeCardillo belllindsay jasonkonopinski ginidietrich  Haven’t you people ever heard of the “Save Draft” button?

        • AmyVernon JoeCardillo belllindsay jasonkonopinski ginidietrich No! I mean, yes. I mean, darnit. 
          I have had WP mysteriously disappear drafts completely though. Not a ton, but here and there.

        • AmyVernon JoeCardillo belllindsay jasonkonopinski I love you, Amy! LOL!

        • ginidietrich AmyVernon JoeCardillo belllindsay jasonkonopinski I haven’t worked in the native WordPress interface for months now. 
          MarsEdit FTW, yo.

        • photo chris

          AmyVernon JoeCardillo belllindsay jasonkonopinski ginidietrich oh yes! Discovered that today right after I ‘effing lost ALL my tags, description, title, and featured image. grrrrrrr.

  • Thanks, Gini! Off to check out Scrivener. 🙂

    • LauriRottmayer I’m a big, big fan. You can use it for free for a certain amount of time. See if you like it that way first.

      • ginidietrich Will do. I have started my first novel. Yikes! I feel like I need help with structure so this looks like it will be helpful. 🙂

        • LauriRottmayer You’ll really love it for that. It will help you with character names and timing and events. It’s very, very cool!

  • Call me a weirdo, but I write in Word. I don’t love the WordPress interface either. Not only can I not see as much of the screen, I also end up with formatting issues if I edit in there. 
    I keep blog drafts on my desktop so I can easily pop them open and add ideas when I think of them. It also allows me to draft about a gajillion headlines before selecting one to put into WordPress. When it gets into WordPress, the post is finished and just needs to be formatted. It may add a step, but that’s what works for me.
    BTW – Ironically, I’m pulling together a crowd-sourced blog post about how people get blog inspiration and their process for capturing ideas and writing. If anyone in your community would like to participate, I’d be happy to share the link. Just let me know!

    • lauraclick I’m your huckleberry.

      • jasonkonopinski Woot! Go here, friend:

    • lauraclick Weirdo!

  • Nicole Isles Henderson

    I like to use the notes app on my iPhone and then copy it in to WordPress. For some reason I feel like I might hit the publish button before I am ready if I write a post directly in WordPress.

    • @Nicole Isles Henderson Check out Poster — it’s like MarsEdit for iOS — it lets you create a post locally (with links and images and stuff) and then post to your wordpress blog.

  • ginidietrich I’m with you I use WordPress, that way I can access my drafts at anytime and edit them when I have the time and then boom I have a blog post. I use email, reminders or notes on my iPhone for jotting down ideas so I don’t forget. I would forget a notebook. : )

    • jennimacdonald You would forget a notebook?! What are you? A 90 year old woman??

  • Engage121

    Nicole I do the same thing sometimes!

  • I’m with you… I write in WordPress everyday… and for the same reasons.
    –Tony Gnau

  • Here I sit still trying to get my head around the “can’t catch a fish without putting the bug in the water” idea but yes it’s true (and I like your image as well as your following through on your plan to use more of your own images). I usually write directly in WordPress. I have had formatting issues cutting and pasting from Word into WordPress (these were, undoubtedly, user error on my part). I’m interested in the five tools you listed — will have to check them out. Wholeheartedly concur with #4. I have so many little snippets jotted down in a little notepad I carry with me — I also put little snippets on the notepad app on my iPhone — I also email myself little snippets (hubs likes that <sarcasm> since we share an account). I agree that writing regularly without fail is a key – some material will sink; some will soar – but it’ll be there and the writer will be better off for having gotten that word “bug” in the water!

    • biggreenpen That’s the whole point right there…if you don’t publish content, you won’t figure out how it works. If you don’t put the bug in the water, you won’t catch any fish!

  • I write emails every day. Doesn’t that count?

    • JayDolan I’ll bet you’re the best email writer in the whole world!

      • giesencreative

        ginidietrich JayDolan It’s a tricky genre!

        • giesencreative ginidietrich JayDolan One just needs to practice daily.

        • giesencreative

          JayDolan giesencreative ginidietrich And delete frequently.

  • Gini. I really enjoyed this post. When I first started blogging back in January I had to write in word first and then cut and paste in WordPress. Since a few months I begin and end in WordPress for all the reasons you mention above (links, media etc.) My favourite tip from this post is “Write every day”. I publish about 2-3 times a week currently so I write 2-3 times a week. I do log in every day to edit or to make those 2-3 posts better before i publish them. Does that count as writing?

    • LSSocialEngage LOL! If you want it to count, I fully support you!

  • These days I talk a lot about momentum. It’s a little different when you’re working on a novel or something big, but generally I think your point about writing every day is solid. A writer in motion tends to stay in motion.

    • JoeCardillo Even when you write a novel, I think it should be daily. I’m writing a book. I write every, single day in it.

  • Communic8nHowe

    I prefer writing directly in WordPress too. I’m perfectly happy with the interface. Close enough to word and reflects the tools and how they work on the destination. And no hassles with hidden formatting coding that works in Word but messes things up anywhere else–and without needing to strip the code or other unnecessary steps. I’d recommend folks try it if they haven’t already.

    • Communic8nHowe I really don’t mind writing there. You and I? Two peas in a pod.

  • I write directly into WordPress. There’s also TextWrangler, an open-source program where you can do all your formatting that you’d do in WordPress and it transfers seamlessly.
    Writing in Microsoft Word is about the worst thing you can do to transfer into WordPress, though, because it adds so much extraneous formatting that it can totally bork up a post. Ever see blog posts where the apostrophes or other punctuation is all messed up? Guess what they wrote the post in, almost certainly?

    • AmyVernon  –  my “new term of the day = “bork up” thanks for that 🙂

      • biggreenpen My work here is done. 🙂

    • AmyVernon I don’t know TextWrangler. I shall check it out. Merci beaucoup!

      • ginidietrich – It’s a great free tool for situations where you don’t have connectivity, but want to totally code up a post, or to do a guest post for someone and can’t do it in their CMS.

        • AmyVernon ginidietrich I used to use Text Wrangler, now I use ByWord — I really love ByWord. It lets me focus on the text — but also include all the links, tags, etc.

        • blfarris ginidietrich Thanks for that! I will definitely check out ByWord. 🙂

    • photo chris

      AmyVernon Thanks for that! I AM editing what is transferred in and wrote in word as the blog was being developed so we would have at least a few things ready to go…

      • photo chris – you’re welcome! 🙂

  • giesencreative

    I write directly in WordPress as well, although I have to admit that I’ve lost a few minutes of typing here and there. It happens occasionally due to computer malfunction.
    I hear you on the pen and paper. I use a weird mix of Evernote, Twitter favourites, notebooks and whiteboard notes to get my thoughts straight.

    • giesencreative Do you have the whiteboard in your office?

      • giesencreative

        I have a glass desk that I painted the underside of white. It serves the same function, though I have to keep my desk clean to use it!

        • giesencreative SHUT UP! I want to see that!

        • photo chris

          giesencreative what a COOL idea!

        • giesencreative

          I’ll put up a photo for you guys tomorrow!

        • giesencreative That’s awesome. I really do want to see that..

        • giesencreative

          One, coming up!

          ginidietrich@photo chris  JoeCardillo

        • photo chris

          giesencreative ginidietrich photo chris JoeCardillo SOOOOO cool! And what a GREAT incentive to keep the desk clean! Of course, I think my children would take over in a nano-second and I’d  be left to work on the floor!

        • giesencreative NO WAY!! That is so stinking cool!!

        • giesencreative OMG I want that. We just have a regular ol’ boring whiteboard. ginidietrich photo chris JoeCardillo

  • This is a very interesting post!  I’m awed by those of you who write every day – I must get in that habit as I don’t write nearly as much as I’d like.  When I do I’m like lauraclick – draft it in Word (doesn’t seem to tweak out on me  – maybe due to Mac?) and then I copy it to WP & finish off the formatting & links.  For blog ideas, I haven’t found the ideal solution for me yet – have tried a bunch of apps, but still mostly use pen & paper.  Found my old handheld voice recorder the other day…might try carrying that around!

    • lizreusswig In other words, Macs rule, PCs drool.

      • ginidietrich Exactly!  Simplicity in prose…this is why you’re a published author and it takes me more than a week to respond to an email! LOL

        • lizreusswig In your defense, I did ask some really hard questions.

        • ginidietrich That and those darn rugrats that you love so much have been keeping me running!  I’m getting there, though…inch by inch! 😉

      • ginidietrich lizreusswig Voldemort died a few years ago, you don’t have to pledge allegiance to Mr. Turtleneck wearing CEO monster anymore.
        In fact you can pay less and obtain a very fine piece of equipment that works quite well for daily writing, no Kool-Aid required. 😉

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich lizreusswig ohhhhhhhh……..

  • KevinVandever

    When I used to blog, I wrote in WordPress for many of the same reasons you mention. I’ve also used Tumblr. It worked well for my jazz blog, which was more about audio, video, and quotes and less about words, although it worked fine for that, too. I’m currently using Apple’s Pages to write my book, but I may look deeper into Scrivener. I like what I see so far. Thanks for the tip.

    • KevinVandever You’ll like Scrivener. For the book, you’ll like it a whole, whole bunch.

  • I actually use Blogger to write blog posts. I also use Catch Notes when I am mobile blogging (I even utilize code when I am mobile blogging and I email the text to my account). I haven’t tried Scrivener yet. I think I will check it out. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • PTheWyse You use code on your phone?!? I bow to your greatness.

  • susancellura

    I’ve noticed I trend towards the “pen and paper” model. Perhaps it’s because I grew up writing in a diary, because there were only typewriters, and rotary phones? It doesn’t mean I can’t write in WordPress, because I do so at times, but I just have a flow that happens from my mind through my fingers to the paper. I’ll change my mind and draw arrows to change things around to make a point and then sometimes see a whole new point developing – new paragraph!!
    With that said, I have friends who love Evernote but I have not played with it too much just yet. Cheers!

    • susancellura Are you 100 years old?! Only typewriters and rotary phones. LOL!

      • susancellura

        LOL! Well, I will be 44 in August. I did have a dot matrix printer in college, and we did have cordless phones at home. Oh, and we did cable when it came out…we had what I call the’slide” channel changer! First video on MTV? “video killed the radio star”. 🙂

    • photo chris

      susancellura “draws arrows to things…” LOVE IT! Why is there not a “LOVE IT” button? My editing notes consist of arrows, circled numbers with arrows and paragraphs of tiny font. NOT 100 yet, ALMOST 39, almost.

  • Gini;
    Everything said in that podcast was out of MAD respect — know that!
    The gap between your skills and experiences and mine are VAST — I need remedial help. That’s why I use these nerdy writing tools. (See list here:
    There is something about WORD that triggers my left brain, I have to have it all figured out tendancies — but plain text tools like Markdown also help me get stuff onto the web easily. Evernote, Word and Google docs famously mangle the HTML and add a lot of friction to getting the writing onto the web.
    I wish I could just write in the WordPress interface — maybe I’ll get there some day.

    • blfarris I really, really loved it when you said it’s hard for you to write content in Word because you use it for strategic (I can’t remember the word you used, but I got “boring” out of it) documents for clients. I thought that was REALLY interesting.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich blfarris old habits and muscle memory die hard. When I get REALLY stuck I take a pen and paper, throw on something hideous like sweats and comfy socks, put my hair in a pony tail and turn on LOUD music- it shorts out my brain from everything else trying to get it’s attention, and sit somewhere not desk-like. A couch in one of our consult rooms- the patch of grass outside our studio, the sky chair in my yard…and then I free write until I work it out.

      • ginidietrich Gini,  Yes, WORD triggers all the parts of my brain that want to make a PERFECT thing. For me, blog writing is not about making a perfect thing — it’s about writing a crappy first draft and then honing that into something that others would want to read.
        It’s a trick, but staying away from Word is part of that trick for me.

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  • photo chris

    ohhh- I LITERALLY just learned the first steps of wordpress today- the blog is coming any day now! It’s pretty intuitive thus far but I will say that I worked on the articles first in word, then copied them over. However, that was because it’s not “live” yet. How interesting and freeing that I could eliminate that step!

    • photo chris When does the blog launch??

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris LOL- It was supposed to be Friday- HOWEVER…I begged my boss to not go live on a day that I was SHOOTING a wedding, good grief! So it is delayed until tomorrow. We’ll see if the formatting problems with the more advanced theme have shaken out by then! I was also asked, for “SEO Sake” to be sure to include a list of keywords in the posts. Um, I thought  that was what developing great content was about. How is this NOT keyword stuffing?

        • photo chris Oh. No.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich photo chris lol- to which?

        • photo chris The list of keywords in every post. That makes me want to cry.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich photo chris oh, I know. I asked, how is that not keyword stuffing? To which I received an answer, “What is Keyword stuffing? I’ve never heard of it.  Where did you even hear of it? The purpose of the blog is to maximize SEO People have to be able to find us when they search.” I was a bit harried in my answer,honestly. I pointed to you, to Target Marketing, to Coppyblogger. Brief abatement to, “use a few of these words in posts as you are able.” Currently no word list received. Me, hitting my head against things.

  • Blog posts take me more than an hour. How do you do that? But my art works have taken sometimes years (but usually take weeks)  so blogs are lightning quick.
    Thanks for the tips Lady!

    • Howie Goldfarb I guess it’s because I think about content all day, every day. Even though the actual getting it down on paper takes only an hour, I’ve likely thought about and researched it for days beforehand.

    • Howie Goldfarb I’m in the same boat. I tend to write a bit stop. Then come back to it and see how I can improve it. 
      It can take a couple hours. It really depends on how detailed I want to get. 
      I still edit it via reading out loud. It seems to work best for me.
      Having said all that, I think I am better on video.

      • IpjRobson Howie Goldfarb I still edit by reading out loud, too!

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich IpjRobson Howie Goldfarb lol- I thought reading out loud to edit was “mandatory.” It’s the only way I can hear the rough spots.

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  • “Write every day. Even if you don’t publish every day, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write every, single day.”
    Thanks for the reminder, Gini! I know this, but it’s so very hard to practice!

    • Unmana I got some flack for that comment, but I really do believe if you want to get better at your craft, you have to practice.

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  • I’ve only been at this for just over a year but my typical strategy is that I have a pad of paper next to me while I am at work. As the day goes on, I write everything that pops into my head on the pad and bring it home with me. Once the kids are asleep, I take out that day’s sheet of paper, open up my WordPress, and start expanding on my handwritten notes. It’s what works for me and I am totally with Gini on the crafting in WordPress thing, for all the same reasons she listed. (Sorry, I can’t tag from work because we are in the stoneages here)

    • Chris_Read You’re in the stone ages at work?! That kills me. Whenever I meet a business owner who says they have firewalls up to the Internet, I want to shake them. Sometimes I do.

  • SavvyCopywriter

    This is a great post! I just got Scrievner and am playing around with it for some of my longer form content too, although I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet (and admittedly haven’t spent enough time playing around with it). I recently found the ‘Focus’ setting in Word for Mac which is a life saver when writing longer form content too. Much like WriteApp, it blacks out the entire screen so that all you see is your document.

    • SavvyCopywriter Ohhhhh. I didn’t know Word for Mac did that. I’ll check it out!

  • All good tools but paper and pen are well above the others. In this age of technology at all costs which will bring us probably to become a kind of cyborgs permanently surrounded by unhealthy electromagnetic waves due to all those things we carry around everyday going back to stone age technology can really make a difference. That’s for a simple reason: using paper and pen activates our brain in a different, more creative way; it’s an active use of our brain while simply pushing keys is a much more passive thing.

    There is a reason if in China they still make computations using abacus first and then checking the results with a calculator: it keeps the brain alive and sharp.

    As regards productivity the other six tools surely win but taking into account our brain and creativity paper and pen win without competitors. And we are our brain, so to say, not our tablet, or smartphone, or whatever. 🙂

    • Andrea T.H.W. If there is a world war, it could very well be our technology is the first to go. So pen and paper works for me!

  • I’ll add Evernote to this list; much like Google docs I can collab and share from that app as well. And much like you I find it just as easy to do it all in WP – except that 1-hour thing. Takes me so much longer to edit, to find the links, to add images, etc. Once in a while I can crank one out that writes itself, but coding/linking itself.. whole other thing. FWIW.

    • 3HatsComm Ha! I guess I’m some sort of cyborg or something.

  • Might want to check the terms of service on google docs. The retain the right to use any material posted there in any way they wish. This might create some intellectual property issues if you wish to publish your posts later.

  • AllisonP

    Thank you for this article.  
    I believe that because writing is such a personal thing, nobody can ‘tell you how’ to do it.  I still use pen and paper most of the time, so I don’t think it is silly at all.  I use photographs as notes for the bulk of my blog entries.  Some days I write my blog posts directly in WordPress, but other days I choose to draft it in a Word document.  I think it depends on my day or my week…did I lose my keys this week?  Well, then maybe I’m feeling wary that I might lose all of my words on my WordPress page today.  Did I have crappy service at a restaurant and want to write about it RIGHT NOW?  Well, then maybe I’ll skip the word document today.   I like to go by feel.

    • AllisonP I think going by feel is perfectly acceptable. To your point, it’s not a one size fits all, by any means.

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  • juliaprior

    I have a hard time finishing blog posts, personally. I’ll get a great start and then just lose interest or get distracted working on something else. Because of that, I’ve started to use to write my posts, and then I put them into WordPress. What better motivation to actually finish a post when every 100 words, the page shows you a new picture of an adorable kitten?!
    And I love your point about writing every day. The ability to write isn’t only a talent, it’s also a muscle. I can’t expect to become a better runner if I don’t go out and run on a regular basis, and I can’t expect to become a better writer if I don’t sit down and write – something – every day. Sometimes it’s not a blog post, sometimes it’s an email to a friend, a press release for work, or even some tweets – it doesn’t matter because I’m still writing.

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  • MuhammadAdil1

    SmartXBlog is desktop blog editor for both windows and mac , it has WYSIWYG editor, image editor, online news, image and video search, drag and drop option, bookmarks , rss feed available from nearly 100 popular websites and you can even add your own rss, pop up alerts of your comments and you can preview and publish your post directly to your wordpress account .I think it is best available blogging desktop editor for windows and mac. Free trial can be downloaded from

  • juliaprior Julia, I realize I am six months late, but I just saw your comment on writing blog posts. I am so sorry I missed it originally!

    I love That’s hilarious!

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