As mentioned in my introductory post, I’m using iA Writer to write all of my posts over the next two weeks. Once I’ve given it a good test drive, I’ll offer my thoughts here at the site.
That said, I have a ton of writing apps on my iPad and just as many available to me on my MacBook Pro. Just like productivity software, I was an avid collector of writing tools for all of my platforms.
And I don’t see anything wrong with that…provided you do something with them.
Too many of us pick up the latest and greatest “thing” and give it a whirl even when what we are currently using is doing just fine for us. Heck, my productivity parody blog is based on the glut of productivity porn that is out there.
Writing tools are no different.
Merlin Mann (who dubbed himself “the jerk of the Internet” on the inaugural Back to Work podcast) has long said that it doesn’t matter what tools you use to make stuff and get out there. The idea, however, is to actually make stuff and get it out there. In the aforementioned podcast, he talks about writing applications that tout themselves as “distraction-free” writing tools.1
But I believe that it isn’t the tool that causes the distraction…it’s the person using them that seems to look for the distraction instead.
Analytics, for example, is a classic distraction for bloggers. Rather than focus on creating new work, bloggers often find themselves tracking how their old work is doing. I have fallen victim to this before; it’s an easy trap to fall into. That’s because just as there are a ton of tools to make you more productive and offer you better ways to write, there are just as many analytical tools out there to see how what you’ve made is performing.
Te problem is that by looking at how what you’ve done before doesn’t help you make progress all that much anymore. It’s all subjective. The audience on the Internet is so vast that you’re not going to be please everyone (a creative person’s hardest pill to swallow) all of the time. I’m not saying that reflection isn’t important — it is — but it has a time and place. And that time and place should be minuscule in comparison to making new things happen.
Forget the numbers corresponding to what you’ve got out there; create new stuff to put out there. Equating statistics to writing is like asking a writer to find the hypotenuse in a metaphor.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about different tools — it’s helped me get a handle on the things I write about. I think educating yourself about new things and tools that can help you produce more — and hopefully better — stuff is important. But don’t get hung up on the whole learning thing. If you’ve found something that works, spend more time on that thing than the new thing you’re trying out. Let the shift happen gradually. Don’t abandon the tools that help you get stuff done for the promise of another thing that might get your stuff done faster, better or whatever. Because it won’t. Not at first.
If you’re doing this, then you’re not doing what you’re intending to do — which is to make stuff. Instead, you’re robbing yourself of the time you need to do just that. Don’t use another thing exclusively to make stuff until it’s become your thing.
All the while, keep making stuff. I can’t wait to see it.2
1Methinks Merlin is talking the piss out of iA Writer in this post.
2This is an invite to put links in the comments of your said stuff. Go for it.