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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 June 13, 2019

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    Think you have a boring life?

    The definition of boring is dull or not interesting. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list of 20 things can definitely make any day more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

    Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaning) one!

    1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

    What would he or she want to do right now? Color? Paint? Run around outside? Play dress up? Eat with your hands? Play that instrument hiding in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years?

    Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play.

    2. Go Play with Kids

    Speaking of little kids, if you have your own or access to any (in a non-creepy way, like they’re your niece or your best friend’s kid, you get the idea) go play with them!

    They didn’t create an entire show called Kids Say The Darndest Things because kids aren’t hilarious. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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    3. Order a Hot Dog

    While you’re eating it, Google: “What’s in a hot dog?” You decide whether or not you want to finish it.

    4. For the Ladies: Wear Your Sexiest Lingerie Under Your Work Clothes

    Your “little secret” will leave you feeling anything but boring all day!

    5. Play Cell Phone Roulette

    You’ll need at least one buddy for this. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one and call the person.

    You could spark an incredible catch up session or be incredibly awkward. Neither are boring.

    6. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

    Give them to random people who probably don’t get thanked too often for doing what they do ever day.

    Ideas: police officers, librarians, servers, baristas, cab drivers, sanitation workers, teachers, people behind any check out counter, receptionists, your friends, the guy at the falafel stand, etc.

    7. Sign up for a Class in Something You’ve “Always Wanted to Do”, or Something That Makes You Really Uncomfortable

    Ideas: pole dancing, salsa lessons, improv, pottery, cooking, knitting (yup, there are classes for this, too!), karate, boxing, something techy like the workshops they run in Apple stores, get Rosetta Stone and learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak, etc.

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    What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people!

    8. Interview Your Grandparents About Their Lives

    You can bet they’ve had some crazy experiences you probably never knew about.

    9. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

    Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage and just talk funny. And if you’re not, memorize a few of your favorite jokes and tell those!

    10. Do Something for Someone Else That You Wish Someone Would Do for You

    We all have a few ideas on this list. I promise you will feel amazing after and anything but bored.

    11. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. If you need ideas, there’re plenty on Pinterest. Or you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

    12. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is same fun and relaxing!

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    13. People Watch

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops and train stations are great for this!) and just observe.

    People are infinitely interesting.

    14. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    Bonus points if it’s a random fruit or veggie.

    15. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public and get other people involved.

    16. Go to YOUTUBE and Search “Funny Pets” or “Funny Babies”

    This is also a great quickie ab workout as you will be laughing hysterically.

    17. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Check out the NY Times Best Sellers lists and grab a new book you can get lost in.

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    18. Step Away from the Computer and Go Get Some Time with People You Care About in Real Life

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. You can even share this post with your friends and vote on which one you’d like to do together!

    19. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to Before

    OK, depending on your interests, this one might actually be boring. If you love learning, art or different cultures though, this one is for you!

    20. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then start taking your first step to make what you want happen.

    Now go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

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    Featured photo credit: Kev Costello via unsplash.com

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