Over the past few weeks I have slowly acquired some tools in an effort to find some way to get my scattered thoughts out of my head and into some format that makes sense enough for me to pick it back up when I need it. See there? Longest run-on sentence ever. Scattered.

I have pen and paper, including the Pentel Energel and the new Grids & Guides hardback in black. Now I’m afraid of using it for the same reason people are afraid of getting their new shoes dirty. Weird.

Things- Promises to help me “focus on what matters” by seeing calendar events and to-dos together. Collect my thoughts, get organized, plan my time? One can hope!

GoodNotes- This was an automatic buy for me when I upgraded the iPad and Pencil. It allows me to take my handwritten notes in digital form. Handwritten notes & PDF markup? Crazy cool.

MindNode- A brilliant mind mapping tool that allows me to diagram and parse my thoughts visually and helps me brainstorm ideas. I’m using it for story plots and arcs.

Day One- A digital journal app. But Chris, don’t you have a blog? Well, yeah, duh. But sometimes you want to keep your personal shit just that. Personal. Private. DayOne allows me to add text, audio or photos. It automagically logs, location, date, time, weather and even the song you have playing on Apple Music. Why are these important? Because looking back on your thoughts and wondering why without context or surroundings can be futile. And while I’m thinking about it…

Apple Music- No, it isn’t as good or as user friendly as my favorite, Spotify, but Apple Music is just as strong and has exclusive content. And it works beautifully with other apps because it is integrated. Built in. Less shenanigans means more productivity right?

Bear Notes- Elegant writing and note taking. Because the built in Notes is functional but the interface is simple, boring. I am anti-boring.

Ulysses- Promises to be the ultimate writing app. I think that is gratuitous but I bought into it anyway. I shared a little bit about it on the last post and will probably mention it again in the future.

WordPress- You’re reading this article on my website using the WordPress engine on my own server. It was time to take control again.

Will any of these help achieve the desired results? I don’t know but I am looking forward to finding out.


Lately I have been rethinking my writing workflow and trying to find some right solutions. I want to simplify and minimize tasks and tools. And I want them compatible with all my devices.

I’m looking at purchasing a refurbished MacBook Air really soon and selling the Windows machine. That’ll be that once and for all. I’ll be all-in on the Apple ecosystem. Finally.

In preparation for that, I am discovering new tools to assist me but the new workflows are elusive. How can I make the best use of Bear notes, Things tasks and Ulysses writing app? I’m writing this post in Ulysses iPad right now instead of the native WordPress editor. When it is finished, I will send it to WordPress and it will publish automagically for me.

Oops, had to step away. Now I’m writing this in the iPhone app. Easy syncing through iCloud. Love it.

Part of me loves to tinker and play as I discover new workflows and increase my writing productivity. Another part of me just wants it to work with out thinking about it.

Okay, that was false. I’m enjoying tinkering with my new tools so far.

Mind Mapping

I’ve recently re-discovered the app MindNode, an app that helps diagram ideas and thoughts in a visual way.
Here’s an example of what a basic mind map structure looks like:

Just a simple diagram I generated about mind-mapping and why I use MindNode instead of other similar apps.

  • Cost: $15 for the unlocked iOS app. Or free if you don’t mind limited features.
  • Sync: Using iCloud, it syncs very well between my iPhone and iPad
  • Export: I use a Windows laptop, not a Mac. So I have to use a Windows version of mind mapping tool called FreeMind. Whatever I create on my iDevices will open on my laptop.

Maps can be used in a variety of ways of course. I have used mapping for
productivity, goals, notes, brainstorms, problem solving, book
summaries, task management, video summaries ( I take notes while
watching TED or podcasts). Here lately though, I have been using it to
map out plots and story ideas for the novels yet to be but on paper.
Here is a sneak peek of one of them:

Redacted of course! Can’t give it all away just yet.