I was previously using to handle all my writing. I first discovered it it in 2020 and it worked quite well for me. But with well over a year of no developer activity, and recently not being able to even access the website, I was concerned the software was on its way to being mothballed, so set out to find a new writing suite.
Firstly I found myself installing the trial version of again. Was it time to finally make the jump? Not really. Once again, it didn’t take long for me to reaffirm that it’s still too complicated for my needs.
Don’t get me wrong, Scrivener is amazing for the right people, and there are certainly a ton of useful features to keep large writing projects organised. I have tried it extensively in the past and indeed, I shelled out for the previous Windows version. But like I said, it’s just too complicated for my needs. I always end up spending more time trying to figure out how to use the software to it’s best, rather than actually producing content. If I need that level of complexity one day, I may well switch to Scrivener, but for now I need simplicity.
After looking through several options, I had a couple of alternatives in mind. iaWriter, and Typora. Obviously, from the title of the post, you can guess what I settled for – and honestly, I didn’t really put iaWriter through its paces much, I just preferred the feel of Typora.
What Am I Using Typora for?
My Personal Blog
My personal blog covers a range of topics, so I need a way to keep post drafts organised by category while I work on them. There also isn’t a set posting routine to my blog. I just like to post articles as and when I feel inspired. So in the drafting stage, I dip into drafts and add bits and refine bits until they’re good to go.
As an estate agent by day, I create content for our website and (try my best to) write regular blog posts, as well as creating engaging social media content. Whilst coming up with ideas for posts is easy due to the complex nature of the profession, writing posts takes longer and has to be more thoroughly edited than a personal blog.
My Journaling Book
I‘ve been journaling for over 15 years and love it. However, I’m yet to find a journaling book that really distils the essence of what I feel makes journaling great. So I plan to write and publish a book about it someday. I need somewhere I can organise all my ideas and snippets as I write the book. It’s not something I’m ploughing ahead with, but more drip-feeding ideas together as and when they arise ready to be edited into a full-length book.
My Short Fiction
I love short fiction and have long been a fan of short stories for years now. I wrote some short fiction around a decade ago, but would love to expand on it and one day publish a book of my short stories.
So with several projects underway that I work on in parallel, It’s important for me to have all my writing in one place. I need a space that helps me work on writing in each area, without it being too cluttered to keep track exactly what I’m working on. I need to be able to browse my drafts easily. I also need something that easily helps me return to drafts – sometimes months after I started writing them, to revise and prepare for publication.
What I Like About Typora for Writing
I’ve become so used to Markdown over the previous few years that I couldn’t imagine writing any form of structured document without it. Being able to add bold, italic, underline, and headings without taking your hands off the keyboard is a real boon to productivity. Typora displays your markdown instantly too so it doesn’t feel like I’m coding.
A Fast and Clean Interface
Typora is fast and clean. It boasts a highly functional, yet uncluttered display with what I need not too far away. It’s the sort if interface that is very quick to get the hang of and soon becomes second nature to use. The WYSIWYG text display keeps everything neat and easy to read and there are a bunch of downloadable themes in addition to the pre-installed ones if you want something a little different – I’m currently using Ursine Umbra
I can’t believe I haven’t taken advantage of writing software with a focus mode sooner. It highlights the particular paragraph of text you’re working and greys the rest out. I’ve never struggled when it comes to composition, but often when it comes editing and jumping from paragraph to paragraph, I’ve struggled on numerous occasions to stay focussed on what’s going on. Having the rest of the document greyed out really helps. If you hide the sidebar and go full-screen, it’s a satisfyingly distraction-free way to write and edit. In the short time I’ve been using Typora, I’m amazed at how much Focus Mode has helped me revise and edit.
The Outline View
One of the initial attractions about Inspirewriter was that I could write several smaller pieces of text held in a group, drag to rearrange and then combine them into the final draft. It sounds better in theory than it actually was in practice and actually ended up feeling quite messy. However, in Typora, I can write in a single document, then navigate easily around it using the outline view which breaks the document into sections based on the headers – indented based on each heading size. Each section can be easily accessed by clicking on the item in the outline view. And, the outline view is a great way to see the overall structure of a draft at a glance how it is coming together.
Easy File Management & Sync
With Typora, I can store all my stuff in Dropbox folder divided into sub-folders for my various projects, and then into sub-folders for topics. In the Files view I can see this as a folder tree and drag and drop them to organise texts into the required categories, or I can switch to the Articles view and see texts in the way I prefer. I like to sort descending from the most recently modified documents to easily jump back to what I’ve been working on recently.
Text is stored as .md files in Dropbox, so if I wanted to import them into another Markdown editor, it would be a straightforward process.
Typora can autosave if enabled in the Preferences menu, so I don’t have to worry about saving anything.
Easy to Publish to WordPress
A simple copy and paste into WordPress and my post with headings and formatting is all good to go – no need to tweak spacing or headings.
What I Would Like to See in Typora
Drag & Drop Arrange
This would be a killer feature – to rearrange a document within the Outline tab. Essentially how I’d see this working is you drag and drop a section and it would move the heading and the text between that heading and the next to your new location in the document. Yes, I know I can copy and paste, but it would be a sweet feature.
Suite-wide Session Writing Count
Not a biggie, but it would be nice to see a suite-wide word count across all documents per session (or day). I’d like to know when I’ve hit say 1000 words (from key strokes, not from copying and pasting) in a Typora session rather than just individual documents. Again, not essential, but a nice touch.
The ability to add tags to documents and then view documents by tag would be useful. I would probably use the tags #idea #draft #revised #final #published to keep track of what stages my blog posts were at in Typora.
Open Multiple Folders on Start-up
Typora has the option to open a custom folder on start-up. I’d like the option to add multiple folders so I can access documents from several different locations such as shared cloud storage.
I wrote this post in Typora and since using it, I’ve already been more productive with my writing. Time will tell if this is just ‘new app excitement’ or a lasting change. I can’t wait to do more writing with with it. Having a single system that is simple, fast, reliable and pleasing to the eye, synced across multiple devices will really increase my productivity when it come to working on all aspects of my writing, and I’m very happy to pay the $15 licence fee.