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Desktop to iPad Blogging Workflow with Scrivener, Elements, Dropbox, and Marked

Desktop to iPad Blogging Workflow with Scrivener, Elements, Dropbox, and Marked


    One of the keys to a good life hack isn’t just finding the right technology to do the job, but actually finding the right combination of technologies to get the job done. Many of you wonder how us writer folks keep our writing projects on track and in sync, regardless of the where or when we’re doing our writing (sometimes we wonder ourselves, actually). I’ll tell you sometimes it’s not easy, until you find—and set up—the right apps and services to make things all come together. This post is all about how to go from your desktop to iPad and back and keeping everything a couple clicks away from being ready to publish online.

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    The first, and most essential, part of this whole system is Dropbox. If you’re not using Dropbox, now is the time to sign up and set up. Without Dropbox’s easy and fast file syncing—syncing that works on pretty much any device you throw at it—this system wouldn’t work at all.

    Next thing is the file format. Writing for the web—and blogs specifically—is a no Word zone (or Pages either for that matter), basic, boring text files are the files of choice here. Well, text files with a twist. While I’m writing this in a text editor, I’m also using the markup system called Markdown that is essentially a shortcut for HTML and let’s me format this post for posting—even put in links and such—without having to type HTML, per se.

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    With the foundations in place (Dropbox and text files), let’s move onto the actual writing part. On my Mac my writing app of choice is Scrivener (Mac and PC). I’ve written several books and lots of posts in it already, so I’m no stranger to it in the least, but one of the features I haven’t used too often (though I should have been) is Sync an external folder. The basics of how to do this are pretty simple and this post from Jamie Rubin puts it all together nicely. At the guts of it, you’re just telling Scrivener to look in a particular folder on your machine (in this case a folder within my Dropbox account that my iPad app saves to) and import files from that folder into the project. It’s important to have your Scrivener project be saved in a different location than the sync folder.

    The next part for the writing on the go element is, actually, Elements. This is a great, simple iOS (iPad and iPhone—which is one reason I really like it) app that just creates text files. And syncs to Dropbox. And (optionally) syncs to iCloud. And supports Markdown with a nice preview window and the ability to copy (clean) HTML to paste into your blog editor of choice (I’d opt for WordPress for iOS, actually). Elements isn’t the only choice out there—believe me, I’ve bought and tried almost all of them—you can also check out Nebulous Notes, iA Writer, Byword, Plain Text, and Edito (I told you I tried them all). The essential part is syncing with Dropbox so you can write something on the go and have it “automagically” appear on your machine at home when you get back.

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    The last bit of magic is Brett Terpstra’s app Marked (sorry Mac only). See, while I can copy and paste HTML from Elements on my iPad into the WordPress editor on my iPad, I’d rather pull everything together on my Mac at home. Inserting images and such is still a bit of a chore on the iPad, so forcing myself to open, review, and edit the post on my Mac is a good safety net. While I can export HTML from Scrivener, I don’t like to because the exports are designed as complete web pages, and I don’t want that. This is where Marked comes in. I just drag and drop the text file (with Markdown) onto Marked and I get a beautifully rendered document and when I copy the HTML from Marked, it’s just the HTML needed for a post. Nothing more, nothing less, and no extras that might mess things up.

    So I can start a post in Scrivener, then finish it on my iPad, and then post it. Or, like I’m doing now, write the whole post on my iPad, and put the final polish on it on my Mac at home (along with images and such) and post it. All the while I’m still just editing the same files, seamlessly, efficiently, and transparently.

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    (And if you’re wondering about typing on the iPad, I’ve used the on-screen keyboard for light writing and the Apple Wireless Keyboard for heavier projects. For this post, however, I’m trying out the Zaggfolio keyboard and case…and really, really liking it.)

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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