My Daily Writing Workflow: 5 Apps That Make Writing Simple & Effective
Whether you’re working on a new blog post, sales page, email sequence, online course or video series, the creative process generally starts with writing down your ideas and turning those ideas into a rough draft. You then take your draft and refine it down into a final version.
In this post I’d like to list and explain the 5 apps that I use in my writing workflow that has helped me develop a daily writing habit. My desired outcome for implementing this new habit is to publish a new blog post and a new YouTube video every week, that provides value to those looking for inspiration and advice on how to create a simple and repeatable process for creating valuable content.
Before I get trapped in a “meta-vortex” as I write a blog post about writing, let me get on with explaining my workflow.
1. Notes for iPhone & Mac
First on my list is an app that comes natively installed on all iPhones and syncs across your Apple devices using your free iCloud account, assuming you’re an Apple user. If you don’t use an iPhone, then I’m sure your phone has a similar note taking or writing app that you can use instead.
For me my Notes app on my iPhone is the perfect app for easily and quickly capturing ideas and writing when I’m not at my desk in front of my MacBook. I might be in bed, on the balcony or in the car somewhere, if an idea worth capturing comes to mind then I use notes to capture my thoughts.
Whatever I write in my Notes app then automatically syncs across to my notes app on my MacBook. So when I get to my desk it’s easy to continue from where I left off and it’s simple to copy my ideas from the Notes app on my MacBook to a document in Dropbox Paper, which leads me to the next app in my workflow.
2. Paper from Dropbox
Over the years I’ve used many different word processing apps including Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Google Docs, Day One and Textwrangler to mention a few.
In 2015, Dropbox launched a new major feature called Paper. Similar to Google Docs, Paper is a cloud based word processing app. The only difference is that paper is a simple, beautiful and minimalist writing app that is built right into your Dropbox account.
After trying it for a while, then switching back to other options, I recently decided to go all in on Dropbox Paper as my main cloud based writing app. I still use Google Docs and Pages when needed, but for all my personal and professional writing, I rely solely on Dropbox Paper.
The simple user experience and the minimal formatting options keep distractions to a minimum and let me focus on my writing. I recently started a 500 words per day writing challenge and writing in Paper has helped me create this new daily writing habit.
Paper also offers mobile apps for iOS & Android. The mobile app is worth downloading if you want the option of viewing and editing your Paper Docs from your mobile device. On occasion I use the Paper app on my iPhone, which generally works really well.
After creating a new Paper Doc, I immediately copy the link and paste it into my content production plan in Airtable, which leads me to the next app in my writing workflow.
3. Airtable for Tracking Progress
Airtable is a cloud-based relational database app that looks and feels similar to a spreadsheet with super powers. You could of course simply use a spreadsheet to track your content creation progress, but I personally love using Airtable.
With Airtable I can customise the table (in Airtable it’s called a base) to include fields/columns for Title, Content Type, Status, Paper Doc URL, Word Count, Featured Image Attachment, Scheduled Publishing Date, Published URL, etc.
And then I can group my records by ‘Status’ and sort them by ‘Scheduled Publishing Date’. As I work on articles, I can easily update the status from ‘Idea’ to ‘Draft in Paper’ to ‘Ready to Edit’ to ‘Published’.
I can also create a seperate view in Airtable that shows me my content calendar grouped my ‘Month’ and sorted by ‘Scheduled Publishing Date’, so I can see which items have been published and which items I need to work on next to meet my deadlines.
Besides tracking my content creation process in Airtable, I also track the amount of words I write every day in a shared Google Sheet which takes me to my next app in my workflow.
4. Google Sheet for Tracking KPIs
Together with my accountability and mastermind partner, I use a shared Google Sheet to track our daily key performance indicators (KPIs), of which one for me is capturing the amount of words I’ve written every day - with my goal being 500 words per day.
From being part of various masterminds and online challenges, I’ve realised that a simple shared Google Sheet is a great way of tracking daily progress for a group of 2 or more. Using a spreadsheet like this creates a healthy dose of competition, accountability and gamification.
To create a Google sheet like this, you simply list out the dates in the first column. I grey out the weekends, so the list is naturally divided into weeks. In the next columns you enter your daily goal. For me this goal currently is set to writing 500 words per day and publishing a new blog post and video every Tuesday.
This Google Sheet is a powerful one pager that lets me track my progress and keeps me accountable to hit my daily KPIs. Make sure to bookmark your Google Sheet for quick access.
The last step of my workflow is not directly linked to writing and is therefore optional. This step does however help me stay motivated and accountable.
5. WhatsApp for Messaging My Accountability Partner
Being part of a mastermind group or having an accountability partner is not essential, but it can be a great way of being supported and supporting others in an effort to develop a new habit or reach specific goals.
I have an accountability partner from my mastermind group that I communicate with via WhatsApp. We don’t necessarily message each other daily, but we share wins and challenges if and when appropriate. It’s a great way of staying in touch and holding one another accountable, which is why I recommend this and have included it as part of this workflow.
Like many other skills, writing is like a muscle … the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Creating a simple and repeatable workflow for writing has helped me strip away any complexities and excuses and has helped me write more in less time.
If you’re just getting started, then start by writing just a few paragraphs every day. Make it so simple that it’s impossible to fail. Once you’re ready to level up, you can challenge yourself to writing 500 words per day and then eventually 1000 words per day.
By writing at least 500 words per day, I’ve managed to write a total of 16 516 words over the past 36 days. And I know for a fact that my simple workflow has made it fun and effective..
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it. If you have any feedback or questions feel free to leave a comment below. I'll do my best to get back to you.
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