Build Your Digital Writing Toolbox

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Writing useful and compelling digital copy is not an act of magic or divine intervention, and it's certainly not a feature of your word processor or content management system. Scott believes anyone …

Writing useful and compelling digital copy is not an act of magic or divine intervention, and it's certainly not a feature of your word processor or content management system. Scott believes anyone can--and everyone should--develop a personal process to make writing easier, more enjoyable, and more successful.

Scott's presentation breaks the unwieldy concept of "writing" down into four phases: thinking, composing, editing, and finishing. He'll demonstrate tools for managing each component and teach you when and how to use them. Add your favorite software and techniques to a personal toolbox and leave prepared to do great work on your next writing assignment.

This presentation was delivered at Web 2013 at Penn State University. Additional annotations have been added for context.

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  • 1. Scott Kubie - Web 2013 at Penn StateBuild Your DigitalWriting Toolbox #writingtoolboxHello! I’m a note added just for YOU,the web reader. I add in contextthat was provided verbally duringthe original presentation.
  • 2. There’s moreto writingthan writing.Build Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 3. “If you can talk,you can sing.- Dan Hays, the best choirteacher a kid could ever have@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 4. “If you can think,you can write.- Me, the guy on the stage@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 5. “@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxPeople who thinkwell, write well.Woolly minded people write woolly memos,woolly letters and woolly speeches.- David Ogilvy
  • 6. add a bit in here (maybe athought bubble typething) that gets at thecommon objections towriting. not creative. i’mnot a writer. not givingthemselves time tothink.Photo by Flickr user Lee Bennett http://flic.kr/p/92x4fkWhen the check engine light comeson, something’s wrong with the car,not you. Same goes for your writing.
  • 7. applying tools andprocesses to accomplishyour work@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...WORKFLOWThe problem might liewith your workflow.
  • 8. applying tools andprocesses to accomplishyour work@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...WORKFLOW(strategic)The problem might liewith your workflow.
  • 9. 1324Workflows vary.
  • 10. 132
  • 11. 1435276 8
  • 12. !Major Mistake:Lack ofawareness@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxWORKFLOW
  • 13. a pre-determined andrigid sequence of tasks@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...PROCESS
  • 14. a pre-determined andrigid sequence of tasks@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...PROCESS(tactical)
  • 15. 1 4321 4321 4321 432Processes don’t vary.
  • 16. !Major Mistake:Undocumented@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxPROCESSHabits aren’t processes.You have to write it down.
  • 17. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...TOOLa thing you use to makeyour work easier
  • 18. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTOOLTechniqueAppService“Hack”Process
  • 19. !TOOLMajor Mistake:Not pluggingthem in@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTranslation: you have to really learn your softwaretools. Get into the preferences and power it up!
  • 20. Let’s Build ourToolbox!Build Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 21. Thinking ComposingEditing Finishing
  • 22. Thinking ComposingEditing Finishing
  • 23. Thinking ComposingEditing Finishing
  • 24. Thinking ComposingEditing Finishing
  • 25. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingFuzzy
  • 26. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingOne-waytripFuzzy
  • 27. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingDrawthis!
  • 28. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingHow do you representyour thinking?
  • 29. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingHow do you representyour thinking?What tools andtechniques do you usewhile writing?
  • 30. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingHow do you improveyour writing andcorrect errors?How do you representyour thinking?What tools andtechniques do you usewhile writing?
  • 31. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingHow do you improveyour writing andcorrect errors?How do you representyour thinking?What tools andtechniques do you usewhile writing?How do you go from afinished draft to afinished assignment?
  • 32. ThinkingBuild Your Digital Writing Toolbox1
  • 33. having ideas andmaking plans@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...THINKING
  • 34. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTHINKINGGeneratingCapturingDiscoveringDescribing
  • 35. +@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTHINKINGValue:Quantity
  • 36. !Major Mistake:Starting with aBlank Page@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTHINKING
  • 37. Learn from Sherlock...
  • 38. “Data! Data! Data!I can’t makebricks withoutclay.- Sherlock Freaking Holmes@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxas written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • 39. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTools forThinking
  • 40. I’m not writing it down toremember it later. I’m writingit down to remember it now.- Field Notes Motto@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxUbiquitous Capture
  • 41. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxHipster PDA from the brain of Merlin Mann:http://bit.ly/11vM2qQ
  • 42. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxDrafts (iOS)
  • 43. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxEvernote
  • 44. Work Journal@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 45. Work Journal@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAttended statusmeeting
  • 46. Work Journal@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAttended statusmeetingPublished draft to files3directory: [url]
  • 47. Work Journal@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAttended statusmeetingPublished draft to files3directory: [url]Chat w/ John in hallwayre: project status
  • 48. Day One (OS X / iOS)@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 49. Spark File@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAug 3 2011Aug 5 2011Dec 9 2011Jan 4 2012
  • 50. Card Jam@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 51. Ubiquitous Capture@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxImage via http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielcornejo/Think of your brain like a bingospinner. Each ball is an idea. Youhave to pull them out one at atime until you get your Bingo.
  • 52. Rhetorical Map@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 53. Sketching@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 54. Freewriting@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 55. Mindmapping@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 56. Mindmapping@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAnalog Digital• Whiteboards!• Sketchpads• Corkboards• Mindnode• Mindmeister• Freemind@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 57. ?What aboutbrainstorming?@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxWriting by committee is worse than designby committee.Writing is an individual activity. You cangenerate ideas in a group, sure, but oneperson still has to write it.
  • 58. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingDiagramsWork JournalDay OneMindmapsHipster PDA CAPTURE!!!
  • 59. 2ComposingBuild Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 60. transcribing yourthoughts in prose@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...COMPOSING
  • 61. !@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxCOMPOSINGMajor Mistake:Not KnowingYour Tools
  • 62. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228400.400-google-usability-chief-ideas-have-to-be-discoverable.html%9 out of 10 internetsearch users don’tknow to use CTRL+F tosearch text within apage.@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAccording to a 2011 Google StudyDear God.
  • 63. +@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxCOMPOSINGValue:Speed andflexibility
  • 64. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTools forComposing
  • 65. KEY COMMANDS@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox⌘+← or ⌘+➝ - Move one word (CTRL+ arrow in Windows)⌥+← or ⌥+➝ - Beginning or end ofline⌘+A - Select all text⌘+C - Copy selected text⌘+V - Paste selected text
  • 66. THE DOTTED LINE@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 67. TK (to come)Reports are coming in of a massive zoo-break. Over TK elephants and TKmonkeys have escaped their enclosures.Zookeeper Roscoe TK-last-name-TKdescribed the scene as “completelybananas”.@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxFill in the facts later. Don’t lose momentum!
  • 68. Clipboard Managers@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 69. Text Expansion@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 70. Type a short thing and get a long thing!
  • 71. Wolfram|AlphaType a short thing and get a long thing!
  • 72. Type a short thing and get a long thing!
  • 73. --Scott KubieContent strategy, UX design.My email address isscott@scottkubie.com.Dial 515-XXX-XXXX to reachme anytime.Type a short thing and get a long thing!
  • 74. Text Expansion@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxOS XTextExpanderWindowsBreevyPhraseExpressSyncingDropbox
  • 75. Plain Text@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 76. Photo by Flickr user Amanda Woodward http://flic.kr/p/9Dhs7Plain text is like a typewriter.Just you and the keyboard.
  • 77. Markdown@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThis... Gives you this...And so on...
  • 78. Markdown@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThis...# Main HeadlineGives you this...<h1>Main Headline</h1>And so on...
  • 79. Markdown@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThis...# Main HeadlineGives you this...<h1>Main Headline</h1>## Subhead <h2>Subhead</h2>And so on...
  • 80. Markdown@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThis...# Main HeadlineGives you this...<h1>Main Headline</h1>## Subhead <h2>Subhead</h2>**Strong text** <strong>Strong text</strong>And so on...
  • 81. Markdown@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThis...# Main HeadlineGives you this...<h1>Main Headline</h1>## Subhead <h2>Subhead</h2>**Strong text** <strong>Strong text</strong><http://kubie.co> <a href=“http://kubie.com”>http://kubie.com</a>And so on...
  • 82. iA WriterTextMateSquarespaceTextEditWordpressDrupalBywordNocs NebulousNotesNotepadMarkdown can be used allover the place, often natively.
  • 83. PDFPlainTextPrintRichTextMarkdownEmailHTMLIt easily converts into popularformats with many tools.
  • 84. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingFuzzyDiagramsWork JournalDay OneMindmapsHipster PDATKDotted LinePLAIN TEXT!!ClipMenuTextExpanderCAPTURE!!!
  • 85. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingOne-waytripFuzzyDiagramsWork JournalDay OneMindmapsHipster PDATKDotted LinePLAIN TEXT!!ClipMenuTextExpanderCAPTURE!!!
  • 86. 3EditingBuild Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 87. revising yourcomposition for qualityand correctness@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...EDITING
  • 88. !@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxEDITINGMajor Mistake:Readingwithout seeing
  • 89. +@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxEDITINGValue:Obliqueness
  • 90. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTools forEditing
  • 91. THE 10% SOLUTION@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 92. THE 10% SOLUTION1. Finish a draft.@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 93. THE 10% SOLUTION1. Finish a draft.2. Reduce by 10%.@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 94. THE 10% SOLUTION1. Finish a draft.2. Reduce by 10%.3. Repeat until failure.@scottrocketship | #writingtoolbox
  • 95. ACB’s@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAs described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken Rand
  • 96. ACB’s@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxACCURACY (get it right)As described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken Rand
  • 97. ACB’s@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxACCURACYCLARITY(get it right)(get it clear)As described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken Rand
  • 98. ACB’s@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxACCURACYCLARITYBREVITY(get it right)(get it clear)(get to the point)As described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken Rand
  • 99. Use words and word-parts as a lens withwhich to evaluateyour draft...@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAs described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken RandEditing List
  • 100. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxAs described in “The 10% Solution” by Ken RandEditing ListWords Word PartsofthatButAndverybecausethen-ing-ly
  • 101. READING OUT LOUD@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxReading AloudDid you read it out loud?Did you?Diiiid you?Did you really? DID YOU?I thought not.Go read it out loud.
  • 102. INVERSION@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxABCABCFlip it around, upside-down. With first drafts,important stuff often lands at the end ofsentences, paragraphs, and sections.
  • 103. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingOne-waytripFuzzyDiagramsWork JournalDay OneMindmapsHipster PDATKDotted LinePLAIN TEXT!!ClipMenuTextExpanderCAPTURE!!!Read it Out Loud10% SolutionEditing ChecklistACBInversion
  • 104. 4FinishingBuild Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 105. “I’m on to the next one,on to the next...”@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxBASICALLY...FINISHING
  • 106. !@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxFINISHINGMajor Mistake:The Final FinalDraft Patience, young Jedi. Don’t tryto be done until you’re done.Or else you’ll end up withDraft3FinalFinal-ReallyFinal-Copy-Version4-Final.txt
  • 107. +@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxFINISHINGValue:ProcedureRitualize it. Make checklists.Going from final draft tofinished assignment shouldbe as quick and mechanicalas possible.
  • 108. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxTools forFinishing
  • 109. “Can you look at this quick?”@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxHallway Testing
  • 110. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxSearchLink (OS X)Automaticallygenerate Markdownlinks from multiplesources.brettterpstra.com
  • 111. @scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxMD Service Tools (OS X)123
  • 112. Headphones@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxProtecting your time is key tofinishing any writing assignment.
  • 113. HALP! How do youprotect your time, setboundaries, and dosome of that writingthey hired you to do?@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxYours?
  • 114. Thinking ComposingEditing FinishingOne-waytripFuzzyDiagramsWork JournalDay OneMindmapsHipster PDATKDotted LinePLAIN TEXT!!ClipMenuTextExpanderCAPTURE!!!Read it Out Loud10% SolutionEditing ChecklistACBInversionMarkdown Service ToolsMarkedHeadphones
  • 115. Finalthoughts...Build Your Digital Writing Toolbox
  • 116. Brainstorming is Broken // @scottrocketship“Creativity is not atalent.It’s a way ofoperating.- John Cleese
  • 117. add a bit in here (maybe athought bubble typething) that gets at thecommon objections towriting. not creative. i’mnot a writer. not givingthemselves time tothink.Photo by Flickr user Lee Bennett http://flic.kr/p/92x4fkBe aware of your workflow.
  • 118. Throw awaybad tools.
  • 119. Plan yourexperiments.
  • 120. In case of emergency,use index cards.
  • 121. :)@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxThat’s all.Thank you.
  • 122. ?@scottrocketship | #writingtoolboxQuestions?http://kubie.coTools icon by Shane Miller, from The Noun ProjectNotepad icon by Ema Dimitrova, from The Noun ProjectSearch Icon: Gianni Clifford, from The Noun Project