Archive for the ‘Writing tools’ Category

BLOG: (noun)
1. a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

2. a single entry or post on such a website:
She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.

The definition of journal is a diary you keep of daily events or of your thoughts or a publication dealing with a specific industry or field.

My standard disclaimer applies: These are my own thoughts about things that work for me. They may or may not apply to you.

Blogging and journaling are two forms of therapy that work for me, with this difference: what I post on my blog are random thoughts and ideas I feel comfortable with sharing with others. My journal, on the other hand, are my deepest thoughts that I keep to myself. They’re not things I’m comfortable sharing with anyone else.

Both methods help me keep centered. From time to time, I may go back to my journal and discover something I am comfortable in sharing, and so I’ll post it on my blog.

For more information about the health benefits of journaling, I’d recommend “A new reason for keeping a diary,” or “Journaling for Mental Health.”

I’ll admit I’m biased in favor of the URMC article, because that’s where I’ve been going for my mental health help for the past 8 years, and because I know one of the reviewers of the article.

Regardless, take a look at both articles and see if they offer any insights for you.

I stole today’s title from The Huffington Post. Over the years, I’ve had any number of therapists tell me I should be keeping a journal, but none of them have been able to explain just why I should be doing it. Consequently, I’ve always told myself, :Hey! I write stories and I blog. Isn’t that good enough?”

But this morning I cam across the article I reference above in the Huffington Post. It gives a pretty good layman’s explanation of some of the benefits associated with regular journaling. I thought I’d share them with you as background to thus post about the great journaling app I discovered the other day.

Day One is a simple journaling app for the MacOS and iOS platforms. But don’t mistake “simple” for “bare bones.” With Day One, I can write my journal entry and have it keep track of where I was and what the weather was like when I wrote a given entry. I can add photos from my camera roll, or I can take pictures from inside the app. I can also add maps and tags.

I can honestly say that this is the first journaling software I’ve ever used that suits my needs. So much so, in fact, that I went ahead and spent the $5 it cost to buy my own copy. I also took advantage of the apps “Reminder” feature to remind me at a particular time every day that I need to add a new entry for that day.

I’ve also created two journals: the standard one that comes with the app is for my daily entries, and I’ve added a TRAVEL journal to document my train trip across the USA.

So far, I’ve only found three (very minor) drawbacks to the app—if you want to consider them drawbacks—it’s only available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad (no android or PC version), and while the previous version was capable of posting your entries to a web site, they haven’t yet added that capability to the latest version (2.01). The publisher says it’s because they redesigned the app from the ground up for version 2.0, and still have more coding to do so they can incorporate the web connection.

The third drawback is that Version 2.0 doesn’t sync with iCloud or DropBox. It does, however sync across all your devices. So if iCloud and/or DropBox syncing is important to you, the publishers recommend using the previous version.

Day One 1

My experience with the app has me convinced that for me, at least, it is the best journaling app available.

Literature and Latte have just released the iOS version of Scrivener. I’ve touted the wonders of Scrivener elsewhere (here and here), and while I still use it extensively, I no longer use 750 Words. I still think it’s a valuable service, but I’ve moved all of my writing to Scrivener. I use Jarte for quick notes, which I later import into Scrivener, but all of my blogs are done in Open Live Writer and then copied to Scrivener. And now that I have Scrivener on my iPad, I’ll be reversing the process and doing everything in Scrivener, then copying it to Live Writer to post to my blog.

Let’s face it: as handy as they are, most of us don’t carry our laptops around with us everywhere we go, right? We have tablets for portable computing. My iPad Mini is my faithful companion (I’m going to ask Santa for a full-sized iPad Pro), and until now, getting articles from the WordPress app into Scrivener has been an arduous, complicated task. But no longer!

I’ve got Scrivener on both my PC and my iPad configured to save their files to DropBox, and to send backups to my iCloud account. I also have a 3 terabyte external drive that automagically saves all of my files, so I am in full compliance with Robyn’s First Rule of Computing. Remember that one? It says Be Paranoid and Compulsive!

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Or, in my case, about 2,600 miles. Next month will find me on the road (well, to be honest, the rail) to Seattle, WA. Stacey and I have finally decided the time is right to head home to the Upper Left Coast. I’ll be traveling by Amtrak, and I’m bringing my iPad, laptop, and camera to document my journey. Stacey and Fyona will follow later by car.

Once again, I’ll be handling the entire project in Scrivener. It will go a long way toward weaning me completely off MS Word, which with each “upgrade” becomes harder and harder to use.

But more on that in a future post.

Let’s talk a bit about Scrivener, shall we? I’ve written about it before, back in January, but since then my feelings (and work habits) have changed. My old work-flow looked like this:

  • Compose post in Open Live Writer (OLW)
  • Post it to the blog
  • Copy-Paste entry into Scrivener

But that’s all changed.

Some Background

I first discovered Scrivener a little over a year ago. I downloaded the demo version, used it for a month or so, and then purchased a copy for myself. I said "a month or so" because Scrivener has a generous trial period: you can use it for 30 non-consecutive days. In other words, for 30 days of active use. That means if you only use it twice a week, you can use it for however long 30 days at twice a week comes to. Hey! I was an English major; YOU do the math!

I struggled with the tutorial: although it is very well-written and easy to understand, I have a couple of learning disabilities that make it hard for me to learn via textbook or step-by-step instructions. So while I ended up with a brief understanding of the power of the program, it was a superficial understanding at best.

But I woke up this morning with the intention of learning more about Scrivener.[1] After all, up until now I’ve really only been using it as a glorified file cabinet, and that’s not what it was intended for. So I determined to start to learn how to use it the way it was intended to be used.

Naturally, as I usually do when I want to find information, I headed over to my Internet-based library card catalogue, aka Google®, and type in "Windows Scrivener tutorial." That brought up several links to YouTube,® and I followed the first one, which brought me here (

The Change

That’s when I decided to reverse my work-flow and use Scrivener for composing my entries, and then compiling it for importation into OLW. In other words, I finally decided to start using Scrivener the way it was meant to be used.

Well, that didn’t quite work. See, the thing about Scrivener is that when you compile your work, everything in the main section of your binder (usually labelled Drafts) is included. So when I compiled my latest post for export as an RTF file, all of my entries for the entire blog were included. But since that is the only folder that’s included, I’ve decided to create a new folder inside the Research folder, and move all of my previous posts to that new folder.

And there is a perfect example of the power of Scrivener: it lets you tailor the program to the way you work, rather than forcing you to work the way it thinks you should work.

The Future

So that’s my first step in becoming a better Scrivener user, and in learning how to adopt it to meet my needs. There will be more to follow, I’m sure.

Thanks for stopping by!


[1] 1 Actually, I woke up to the sound of the garbage truck emptying the dumpster outside my window.

Surprise! This has nothing at all to do with mental health—unless, like me, you blog as part of coping.

Apparently I haven’t been subscribed to the appropriate services where such announcements are made, but this morning I decided to Google “open source live writer,” which led me to, where you can download a copy. It’s released under the MIT License model, which, if you’re unfamiliar with it, you should probably read up on.

It was a quick download, and a quick install. If you’re already blogging with Microsoft Live Writer, you can install this version right alongside it, as it won’t make any changes to that installation. In fact, I’m using Open Live Writer to write this entry. So far, I haven’t noticed any major differences between the two—but then, I’ve only written two paragraphs.

The few comments I’ve read on a couple of boards say that some people have had problems using it with Blogger, but other users say they’ve had no problem on that platform. So if you blog on Blogger, I’d say download it and give it a try.

Why Use It At All?

I’m using version 16 of Windows Live Writer, which was released in 2012, and there hasn’t been any further developments since then. Open Live Writer was released in December of 2015 and while there don’t appear to have any changes, the idea is that the open source community will keep it alive and well, with improvements and quite possibly newer features. In fact, the release version available now is, which in plain English means “Not Ready For Prime Time Software;” that is, it’s still essentially a beta (test) release.

If you do decide to use it, I’d suggest you do as they advise on their web site:

If you’re interested in getting occasional notices of updates to Open Live Writer and hearing about opportunities to try new features, you can subscribe to our Announcements email list. You can also follow @OpenLiveWriter on Twitter and like the page for Open Live Writer on Facebook.

That’s what I’ve done. And so far, it looks as if I’ll continue using Open Live Writer for my blog posts.

Robyn Jane