Among the few hundred teachers at the school where I work are a few dozen budding writers. Most are Mac users who ask me, the resident Mac App Queen, about the latest tools for writers.
My view is simple. Simple is better. Unless you’re buried in a research publication, creative writing is best done without distractions. That’s why distraction free writing tools are all the rage. It’s not features. It’s focus.
Features vs. Focus
There’s a battle that rages between ease of use in a Mac app, and loading it up with features that all the users want in the app. Let me start with an evolving example.
The Mac app Schreiben started out years ago as an elegant, almost featureless, distraction free writer’s tool.
Users loved it, and requested a few features be added, and the developer responded. Then, other simple writing tools entered the market, and differentiation being what is is, had more features.
So, Schreiben got more features, too. See the problem? Bloat. Feature creep. More features means more bugs, less focus. From the dust of Schreiben (available, but not improved) came myWritings. Same developer. Same original idea. Focus.
Cleaner, meaner, leaner, clearer focus on what creative writers need. myWritings is a writing tool that lets them write and doesn’t require a manual to figure out all the features that supposedly make writing easier but clutter up the process. That’s why distraction free tools are all the rage in the 21st century. We have too many distractions.
The KISS Writing Method
Teachers who also want to express themselves through writing seem to come in two groups. Teachers who are creative—just write, forget all the tools and features that clutter the mind.
Teachers who want every possible feature in the world because somehow that helps.
I don’t know how it helps but they insist it does, so for them it’s easy for me to point to a half dozen Mac apps which carry a boatload of features—like the Top 8 Word Processors Mac Users Can Love, or 4 Easy Ways To Write A Novel On Your New Mac, or even The Top 10 List Of Word Processors For Mac Users.
You get the idea. Writing tools abound. For everyone else, simple is better. That’s what myWritings is. New. Clean. Simple. Check out this screen shot (click for a larger pop up view):
If you’re after the basics of distraction free writing, what’s not to like?
The Toolbar is obvious and uncluttered. New for new document. Open for previous documents. Click for Styles or Formats. Files and Documents let you browse notes, images, and other research material with a click. Save. Print. Info for details.
After that, it’s select a font, style, and size, add justification, and you’re good to go.
myWritings is completely WYSIWYG but with basic information such as word count, statistics, even word frequency and auto save. Page numbers are included, and you can create templates to make getting started much faster.
One feature that pays homage to feature creep is the highly useful Snippets. Store frequently used phrases or simple boilerplate content and get to it with a click, and without having to type it again and again.
If Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages work for you, fine. If you find yourself trying to figure out how to do something in either, then maybe you need fewer tool distractions and more focus on what you’re writing than how you’re writing.
That’s all myWritings does. If you’re after The Best Mac Word Processor Ever? Try This One. If you’re after clever, thoughtful, readable writing, myWritings makes it easy for you. It’s not free but it’s paid for by missing a couple of trips to Starbucks.