Productivity Tools For Writers

Last Update: August 24, 2021

Productivity Tools For Writers

A previous post (My 3 Month Review At Wealthy Affiliate) included a little about the challenges I faced at becoming efficient and effective as a new writer of blog posts.

My experience of software and productivity for writers is not vast. However, I initially found software which are great products but which when combined made blog post-production for me something of a chore. My current, hopefully, a temporary (voluntary work) situation is that I have time between about 08:00 to 23:00 with an iPhone, then after 23:00 on a laptop. Far from ideal, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When I first started a blog, I used Scrivenor software (on Windows and iOS) which I had bought during 2019 for writing a book. I added Evernote for capturing research materials and writing. Then Trello to control the workflow of articles from an initial idea through various steps to eventually publishing and finally planning a future review date. An important attribute for both Evernote and Trello was automatic transferring of data between Windows and iOS versions. However, my writing files in Scrivener had to be transferred between iPhone and PC and vice versa via Google Drive.

Scrivenor, Evernote and Trello are all excellent software products, but using the three was kind of 'clunky':

  • Transferring my writing files via Google Drive, from iOS to Windows and back, meant I needed to be very careful controlling different versions of the files as each article developed. I lost material several times through my undisciplined clumsiness and the transfers took a frustratingly long time.
  • Also, Google Drive does automatic backups, daily, which invariably kicked off just as I started an editing session on pc; which then froze for 20 minutes or so. Unfortunately, Google Drive doesn’t seem to allow users any control over the backup.
  • Using 3 different software solutions also meant regularly swapping between the apps. Remembering to record progress properly in Trello was my biggest weakness (often forgotten) and copying notes and research materials into Scrivenor from Evernote or vice versa lost any formatting.
  • Copying and pasting from Scrivenor or Evernote into WordPress also required reformatting once the text was in WordPress.

I had been searching every now and again for ‘workflow apps for writers’ on PC. Then early in September, in a review of 12 apps for writers, at number 10 was ‘the newcomer’ Notion.os. It is not specifically designed for writers but looked as if It might handle everything that Evernote and Trello did (research materials and project or workflow management) so I downloaded the app to PC and set up a free account.

That same day I took a look at the app and very quickly concluded that it was going to take too long to learn.

I was wrong...

A few weeks later I had read a number of excellent reviews of Notion. One by a full time writer who claimed that the software had 'changed her life’. The other by someone equally enthusiastic about using Notion for controlling how he ’gets things done’ (I happened to have been re-reading Dave Allen’s excellent book called ’Get Things Done’ (GTD). So I went back and took another look at Notion.

Looks can be deceptive: A Brief Introduction To Notion

The app opened at an almost empty screen. On the left I clicked 'Add a page' which brought up the following view which was also baffling but held a few clues:

Where I am writing right now, is in the first block of the page (it is a block editor) which is situated below the above list of possibilities. It is easy to simply write a series of blocks then shuffle them around as you like. Each block can be turned into a number of different formats such as Headers (1, 2 and 3), tick boxed To Do list, bulleted list, numbered list and even into another, nested page.

There are many good things about the editor... but what I like most is that the content can be copied and pasted into the WA blog or into WP without losing formatting.

In addition to various types of list, you can create different views either inline within a page or stand-alone:

  • Table (has the capability for applying formulas, and has the ability to create related tables thereby creating a relational database);
  • Board is a Trello like, Kanban Board, which is excellent for workflow management;
  • Calendar (very useful for highlighting target or plan dates for tasks or events.)
  • Gallery is a special kind of Board view especially good for images.

The Notion software had originally been designed and developed as a code-free App development tool. The developers decided their product was failing to have the intended impact in the marketplace and changed direction to create an all-in-one collaborative productivity tool. I.E. it is designed to help teams work well together.

Although designed for teams, Notion is available for individuals free of charge! The single person version even allows for collaboration with up to 5 guests at a time.

I have set up what I have called my 'Writing Kitchen' within Notion using the Board view. Each entry in my Board represents a writing idea, which I develop through a series of logical steps in such a way that it is really easy to keep track of what needs to be done and what stage an article is at, at any point in time.

This post is simply skimming the surface of Notion. In my next post I plan to outline how I am currently using Notion for writing.

If you would like to learn more from the next post... please let me know in the comments...

If you like this post please click the green button.

Thank you... Richard

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Karin13 Premium
Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I will be checking out Notion today!

Best wishes for a prosperous 2021,
Newme202 Premium
Thank you Richard for sharing the different tools that maybe required for writing. I learned a lot. Interesting post
richardgb Premium
They are only required if you need them.
If what you already have works well there may be no need to change.
I recommend you check out Notion.os just in case it’s useful to you .
Newme202 Premium
Will do Richard
YvonneBray Premium
Thank you for introducing us to workflow, it sounds like an interesting program.
richardgb Premium
You’re welcome. Thanks for commenting.
Palatia Premium Plus
Ohh.. I like the workflow and calendar features of Notion. I'm currently using Office OneNote, which is fine for jotting down ideas on the fly, pasting in keyword research and resources for articles. And I have continual updates between my phone, PC and laptop. It's always current, which I like. I might have to check out Notion, though. Thanks for the tip.

richardgb Premium
Thanks for replying Paula.
Notion’s advantage is workflow control.
If you don’t have a problem (like I had) tracking progress for a number of different posts you night not have a need. :-).
It’s worth investigating thiugh.
Dfhuang Premium
Good to know!! Thanks for sharing !!
richardgb Premium
You are very welcome.