If you can’t or don’t want to use Microsoft Word, you can create a document on Google Drive. So do you really need any other writing software? There are writers who swear by Scrivener. But Scrivener is for long-form writing, for writing a novel. So why should you try writing tools or applications like Draft and Editorially? You should if you want something different from Word and Google Docs, which was what documents used to be called when created on Google Drive.
Editorially, so long in beta, is now open to all. You can register and start using it for free. And if you like distraction-free writing on a blank page — the kind you get when you hit the full-screen button on WordPress — you will like it. It seems similar to Draft, which has been around longer and has more features at the moment, and which I like. More about Draft in a moment.
But first a bit more about Editorially. Its creators say:
“Most writing applications fall into one of two camps. Old-school WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) tools provide lots of options for formatting and making templates, but they’re bloated and trapped in a model for writing that still assumes paper as its final destination…
“On the other side, many newer tools happily embrace the underpinnings of the web — trading superficial styles for more meaningful markup. But these same tools’ fealty to a mythical “distraction-free zone” inspires them to lock writers away in small rooms by themselves…
“Neither of these approaches fully respects the actual writing process, which oscillates between the quiet of the writer’s private cabin and the hum of the editor’s markup. Good writing requires both the safety of the former and the constructive criticism of the latter…
“We came together to make Editorially, a new collaborative writing and editing platform.”
You can also collaborate and edit on Google Drive and Draft. But Editorially is more like Draft than Google Drive. While Google Drive uses a WYSIWYG text editor like Microsoft Word, Editorially and Draft both use Markdown. “Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML),” says Daring Fireball. Helpfully, Daring Fireball also provides a cheat sheet, showing how to use Markdown. Markdown is an easier-to-learn version of HTML because it uses far less code. Here are a couple of examples of Markdown:
Put this * asterisk sign at the beginning and end of a word and the word gets italicized.
Put the same * asterisk sign twice at the beginning and end of a word and the word gets emphasized.
To create a numbered or ordered list, you just have to use the corresponding numbers.
To create an unordered list, you simply use asterisks
I am not really good at Markdown but you can easily look up the code while writing on Draft and Editorially. Both offer help.
After writing on Draft, you can convert the document to PDF, publish it on WordPress and do a lot of other things. Just look at all the Draft features Draft.
I love Draft. I don’t use it all that often, but when I do, I wonder why I don’t it use more. I can tell you as I write this on Draft that the page looks really good — just words on a blank page in good-looking type with a few Markdown symbols.
Nathan Kontny, who created Draft, has really come up with something useful and beautiful.
Editorially could be just as good.
Here’s a comparison between Draft and Editorially.