“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”–Toni Morrison
Somewhere, deep in the back of my brain, is a little memorandum. It says, simply, “Write Book“.
I can go for long periods without giving that thought any attention. But then, when I least expect it, some experience or observation will bring it crashing out of my long-term memory, barging into my frontal lobe and demanding that it become my focus immediately.
This is, I think, what it is to be a wannabe author. I have nothing but admiration for the people who make writing their primary goal, who struggle day after day to get their book finished and in front of agent after agent and publisher after publisher. But that life isn’t for me. I’m a founder-coder, and that’s what occupies my waking hours. So it is, unfortunately, rare that I get to write.
Sometime in mid-2015, while my beautiful wife was getting used to the idea of adding two more urchins to our growing herd, I sat down for what would be perhaps my third long stint of writing. I kept it up for about two weeks, at the end of which I had about the same word count as when I started but with a completely different story.
It was at that point that I became frustrated with the tools I was using. I had tried a few things – Evernote, Google Docs, Scrivener, PlainText, markdown files in Dropbox – but nothing sat well. They were all missing something. A programmer can procrastinate like nobody else, and I am no exception. I downed my pen, and started to spec out my ideal tool. I came up with this list of requirements:
- Must work online – I was writing mainly on a Chromebook, and wanted synchronisation with my other machines
- Must have inline notes – notes which are associated with a specific piece of text. If the text moves, the note has to move with it
- Must have centralised character management – I get hung up on character names, and that should fix that problem for me
- Must back up to Dropbox or similar – I want a copy of my work in my control at all times
- Must have a “distration-free” mode
- Must have word counting and streak tracking
- Must have timelining and outlining features for organising my thoughts