Ulysses for iOS and macOS – a solution for a really bad itch

TL;DR – the combination of WordPress and Ulysses on iOS and macOS gives me a lot less excuses not to publish blog posts, as was the case with my beautiful SquareSpace account. Let’s see where this takes me.

Moving blogs

As announced a couple of days ago, I moved blogging platforms, from an excellent SquareSpace to a yet to be discovered WordPress. Now, I understand WordPress powers at least 25% of the internet, so I dare to hope that the blog won’t implode on me.

But why did I move? In essence, there was one and only one reason. Now, let me rephrase that: there was one issue and one solution. The issue had been there for a long time, but the solution only recently became available.

Let me tell you about the itch first, then how I got to scratch it.

The path of least resistance

In essence, I am quite a lazy person. Not intellectually lazy, but I really want my workflows to, well, flow. Take blogging, for example. From first ideas to draft articles to final articles to publishing should be a path of as little resistance as possible. My prior blogging platform, SquareSpace, as beautiful as it was, did not allow me to have a satisfactory publishing experience. The result? Lots of abandoned, half written articles in my Ulysses blogging map. The effort it took to log on, copy-paste the article in the browser and post it turned out to be too much of an effort. There were too many tool switches and too much manual effort involved to actually publish anything worth publishing.

What “frustrated” me the most, and I’m the first to admit this is a first world problem, is that my trusted writing tool, Ulysses, did not allow for exporting to my blog. It did provide a link to Medium, but I have no really interest in publishing on someone else’s platform. So I did not.

Ulysses 2.6 integrations

Then came Ulysses 2.6. When the announcement mail hit my inbox, I noted the inclusion of WordPress publishing immediately. However, as I was in the middle of a difficult project, I did not have the time to invest in examining what was possible with this new integration. And I had no real blog to publish to on WordPress, so I put it in my reading queue. Until a couple of days ago, when I had a couple of hours to spare to look at the capabilities.

It did not take too long to understand the integration was executed magnificently. I can not just publish, but I can assign publishing dates, I can add tags, categories … I can even write a short excerpt, if I would like to.

My writing workflow

So here’s my new writing workflow, entirely centered around Ulysses and WordPress.

  • Often, texts start from ideas I get when writing cursive, fountain pen on paper. That process of writing your thoughts is a very powerful process, especially if you practice it every day. I capture a lot of ideas that way. Now, there are not final sentences, not by far. These are just ideas, concepts, hazy thoughts to be brainstormed further.
  • Brainstorming I do in an application called Mindnode. I use it mainly on iOS, but on occasion I use the macOS version as well. What is so nice about Mindnode is that it allows for very easy exporting of a mind map to markdown, my plain text writing “language” of choice. Markdown is a format supported by Ulysses, and by exporting from Mindnode to Ulysses, I get a very nice first outline of what a blog post, or any document for that matter, should be.
  • Ulysses is my preferred writing environment. There is a history to this. I used The Soulmen’s Ulysses product before, before this release, but its entire set-up was way too strange for me. The current version of Ulysses is writing brought down to its bare essentials. All the right tools are there, but nothing more. Except of course for excellent, intuitive management of multiple documents and a plethora of export possibilities that cover every eventuality. And now, export to WordPress. After a few minutes of testing I exported my entire blog from SquareSpace, opened a Personal Blog account at WordPress.com, imported the SquareSpace blog and started writing.

No more excuses

So far, I’m loving it. At least I’ve run out of excuses not to publish what I write.