I must admit, I was quite concerned my Summer vacation would derail my “blog every day” commitment for 2015. Two weeks “off schedule,” and much of it traveling, caused me to ponder two problems. First was finding the actual time to write and post entries for each day I was away. Second was keeping track of which days I for which had actually written posts. It turns out these issues were not a daunting as I led myself to believe.
Finding the time
Given that I spend so little time sitting in my room while I’m on vacation, the time issue did weigh heavily on my mind. Typically I step away from my laptop while I’m traveling, unless it’s to process and organize the photos I took that day. Finding the mental energy to write, I felt, was going to be a bit of a stretch. As I try not to broadcast my absence from home when I’m traveling, I couldn’t even take the easy path of posting some photos for many of the days I was on the road.
Taking a twelve-hour round trip on the train, however, gave me plenty of time to write. As I travelled in both directions, then, I had my laptop out and I typed away merrily for hours on end – hours which would have been wasted clutching a steering-wheel otherwise. Writing as I travelled also lessoned the stress of being in a metal box, closely surrounded by people I didn’t know, for the better part of a day. It was a win all around for me.
Aside from the train ride, several days visiting my Brother-in-Law’s family allowed me a relaxed environment in which to round out my vacation posts. I enjoy writing, and this blog is a discipline for me, so keeping up actually didn’t feel like a burden. I’m not certain why, given how much writing is ingrained my soul, but this actually surprised me.
As many folks who read this blog know, I like to write in Markdown. Writing in plain text, with simply markup to handle minimal formatting, frees me to write without having to ponder the look of things. Lately, I’ve been using an excellent Markdown editor by Realmac Software called Typed, which is a truly pleasurable writing environment. The themes are brilliant, and the live preview of the Markdown syntax gives some nice visual feedback while writing, without being overwhelming.
As I prepared to author a series of posts for my vacation days, however, I became aware a shortcoming which plagues most editors and word processors – a lack of organization. Most writing tools are about creating a document, not organizing a project or a stream of documents. Word processors like Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org are able to create binders which pull multiple documents together into a single whole, but I find the interface for these features clunky at best.
While I pondered this difficulty I had a sudden thought, “I’ll use Scrivener.” This application, after all, does many things well – but what it excels at is organization. I created a new Scrivener project, created two folders for my vacation weeks, and added documents corresponding to each day of the week. As Scrivener’s document listing has a visual cue for when content exists in a given document, I had a quick reference for what days for which I had written posts during my vacation. When I found time to write I fired up composition mode and went to task. It was marvelous, and helped me stay on track while I was away.
As I write my blog in Markdown it really doesn’t matter what application I use for my writing environment, so migrating to Scrivener wasn’t even a minor issue. All I need is the text of my content for WordPress to create fully-formed blog post 1. Scrivener doesn’t automatically preview Markdown syntax when it’s added to a document, but that’s actually not a huge issue for me. In fact, I could have used Scrivener’s rich text formatting as I wrote and exported to Markdown for publishing, but the ability to see formatting as I set forth my stream of consciousness didn’t out-weight the burden of the added step this would have entailed.
- Well, aside from images, that is. ↩