November 19, 2018


Moving Back to Ulysses

I moved my writing to Ulysses.

The writing was going well in iA Writer. The new version of iA Writer is well designed and can be the main program for all your work, it was mine. There is nothing to complain about when it comes to iA Writer, specially if you write in Markdown.

I feel embarrassed to say it, but I got bored in it. The lack of themes and the lack of the ability to use my own fonts got to me after a while.

It was not a logical decision. This was not a decision made with a list of bullet points which all point to the right decision. Looking at the same screen day after day got to be a drag specially when there was an alternative which let me do the three things which iA Writer didn’t:

  1. Use custom themes.
  2. Use my own font.
  3. Use a custom point for typewriter scrolling.

Yes. Ulysses is burdened by idiosyncratic support for Markdown. It has improved from previous versions, but it is a pain to use sometimes. Yes. It still doesn’t have tables. Yes. As a Markdown editor, iA Writer is superior to Ulysses at every level. But I got tired of looking at the same screen. I got tired of having a bunch of monospace fonts, I couldn’t use. I just got bored.

So, I am back to Ulysses. I wish I had a better reason to come back to Ulysses but I don’t. The gist of the matter is that I like writing in Ulysses.

I wish I could give you a reasoned explanation for why I like writing in Ulysses. Believe me I have tried to write it down, but it doesn’t quite cover it. I don’t have the right words for it. This is what I have:

  1. Ulysses has become better at handling Markdown with both the Paste as Markdown (⌘⌥+V) command and the Copy as Markdown (⌘⌥+C) command. Bringing in stuff which you have written elsewhere is less painful now.
  2. Ulysses has lovely themes. The ones which ship with the product and some of the ones you can add from the Ulysses Style Exchange. I like Gemmell Two, Red Graphite, and, a customized Solarized XL.
  3. The learning curve is non-existent. That might be a function of my familiarity with the application or the fact that this is a limited function text editor.
  4. The ability to hide all the chrome and have your writing in screen in windowed or full-screen mode is good for concentration.
  5. The ability to specify line length (90 characters), the line height (1.7), and no paragraph spacing is something that gives me enough clarity on screen to be able to read the stuff I write.
  6. I like the keyboard commands of Ulysses. If you use it, learn them. They are available here.
  7. The best thing about using Ulysses is the act of writing in it. The customizable point for typewriter scrolling and the ability to use my own fonts are two of the things I was missing in iA Writer. I like the theme switch from the windowed to the full-screen look. I am fond of working in Solarized.

I have come to the conclusion that productivity in writing is not a function of what editor you use to write. It is a function of your motivation and the commitment that you bring to the task. It helps when you don’t have to fight your editor. I conceptualize that as friction. Ulysses is admirably low friction. That is what makes me come back to it, again and again. I am going to stop fighting it, and just enjoy writing in it.

The plan is to stay in Ulysses for a while.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Hat Tip: Photo by Sebastian Soerensen from Pexels

Ulysses writing markdown

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