Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Theory Behind Writer Pro

Oliver Reichenstein of Information Architects shares some of the thinking and theory behind the company’s new app Writer Pro:

Inspired by Hans Blumenberg’s mind bending Book “Sources, Streams, Icebergs” (Quellen, Ströme, Eisberge), we referred to the writing process through the metaphor of a river while designing Writer Pro. A river grows when multiple sources (Note) join into a stream (Write), which spreads into a delta (Edit), before flowing into the ocean (Read). […]

While a river provides a powerful metaphor, in practice writing resists a strictly linear process. A single note doesn’t transform smoothly into a draft, and from draft to editing is more of a Tango than a March. The common process is blurry, dynamic, and in many ways circular.

It’s a fascinating theory, but one that I’m not getting behind just yet. While I’m not opposed to the idea of an idealized distraction-free writing environment, I end up being one of those people that can write anywhere with pretty much any tool. Sometimes I write in a paper notebook with a pen; other times, I sketch things out in Vesper. Things sometimes take shape on my iPad in Byword, or on my Mac in MarkDrop. I have a messy, unsexy writing process, but it seems to work. For me, anyway.

The Syntax Control tool in Writer Pro is perhaps its most notable feature:

The longer you work on a text, the harder it is to find these signs. For example, using “Adjectives” under “Syntax” will reveal how many empty ones you overlooked. This might bore an absolute killer writer, of which, no doubt, there are many among you, but for the rest of us Syntax Control is a bonanza. Used after you thought your text was polished, most writers will find a mountain of mistakes and weaknesses. It changes the way you write, tightening up your prose.

It’s brilliant. And, based on how many times I use the word “ostensibly“, I could probably benefit from something like this. But I’m not yet sold on whether a tool like that is necessary. By simply reading things aloud, I often catch my most egregious errors.

I don’t mean to project; I think this tool is enormously useful for many people. You — mysterious reader — may find it the tool you needed in order to write better. I’m just not certain it’s the tool I want to improve my writing.

See also Shawn Blanc’s first impressions.