Writing with IA Writer

Trying IA Writer

As I’ve started doing more writing, I decided to dust off my iPad and discovered that my beloved Plaintext app has been replaced by the behated Plaintext 2 app….so I needed to find a new app.

One of the first things any aspiring writer needs to do, and I know this is true because established professional writers dismiss it (to keep the tribal knowledge secret), is to spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting their workflow and tools. I cannot just write. I must use a suitable app*, preferably on a Mac, and then cobble together a selection of other apps that run on every device I own, including our net-aware refrigerator, so that at any time I may be able to jot record important thoughts.

So I needed to find a new editor.


So, after doing some research I bought IA Writer Pro. It is an excellent choice because it is

  • Expensive
  • Somewhat non-intuitive to use
  • Has exotic features that I’m sure will make me more effective and writery after I figure out what they do

It connects to Dropbox, and that is very important because I have to be able to sync it with Scrivener (even though IA Writer has a Mac app, which works very well). This also presents a larger footprint of sophistication and complexity, which allows me to worry about things like how to get a blog post from this format (markdown), through scrivener, and into the WordPress app. Or just to the WordPress app if I get it done before I get home.

Scrivener is even more writery, and offers a metric ton of features. But back to IA Writer.

It has a syntax feature which highlights different things like sentences, adjectives, and adverbs. This is useful for catching cliches, tell vs show, and other flaws. It also has a character and word counter, and does a decent job integrating a bluetooth keyboard once you figure out how to make that work.


The first one is that in the search for elegance the developers have made their site so incredibly concise that not a single bit of information is mentioned twice, and as a result I had to read the entire site…even things that I wouldn’t have thought I would would have to go looking for. For example, the information on the keyboard commands I had to learn to use certain features (well, all of them, really) is found only on the general page, but not on the iOS page, even though I was using a wireless keyboard on an iPad. It took a good five minutes of hunting for me to find it.

The good news is that the site is so incredibly concise that it didn’t take long to read the whole thing. I highly suggest that you read the section titled Keyboard Use first, if you’re using an external keyboard.

Overall, I’m happy. I wish it would deal with rich text, but most editors I could find have abandoned rich text in favor of markdown.

*Yes, I know paper and pen, or pencil are also valid and excellent choices, but generally it’s a keyboard for production, pen for memory, for me.

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