Scrivener to WordPress, Fast

Blog fridge magnets

by C.K. MacLeod

Do you blog efficiently? I try to. Here’s how I get a blog post from idea to published, as quickly as possible.

I use

  • Scrivener
  • Markdown
  • Hemingway app
  • WordPress
  1. Collect ideas in advance. Whenever I have an idea for a post, I create a new file inside of a Scrivener project. If I know something about the topic, I might sketch out a few notes in a Scrivener file, or on a Scrivener note card. Note: Scrivener is brilliant for blog management. You can store all of your posts in one project "file."
  2. Draft the blog post in a Scrivener file. Do a quick point-form outline and then write quickly, using the Pomodoro technique. Format in markdown. If you have several posts on the go at once, use labels in Scrivener to communicate the status of a draft.
  3. Take a snapshot of your post using Scrivener’s Snapshots feature. This is a great way to store several versions of your draft, in the event you want to go back to an earlier version.
  4. Revise your writing using the Hemingway app. Copy the post into Hemingway’s Edit view and make corrections in Scrivener. Take another snapshot in Scrivener. I label this version Hemingway.
  5. Prevent formatting problems with HTML. Copy the post (written in markdown) from Scrivener into Daring Fireball’s Markdown Dingus. Follow the steps in this post and paste the resulting HTML code into the Text tab in the WordPress editor. Insert any hyperlinks and pictures.
  6. Preview the post using the Preview button in WordPress. Remove any extra spaces between paragraphs by clicking on WordPress editor's Text tab and deleting nonbreaking spaces. These are indicated by the code &nbsp.
  7. Copy and paste the post (HTML version) and store it in Scrivener. You never know when you might need a web-ready back-up copy.
  8. Add keywords, select categories, and hit publish.

What tips do you have for streamlining your blogging process?

Image by Christian Schnettelker

The Easiest Way to Format Your Writing

Markdown

by C.K. MacLeod

Writers are encouraged to write a first draft without editing or formatting. And with good reason. Formatting and editing can often get in the way of getting your thoughts down. But at some point, you’ll want to format your writing so that it’s easier for your reader to navigate. That is, in fact, the point of formatting: you format for clarity. For reading ease.

What to Format

Sure, you can use the tool bar or the ribbon in your favourite Word processor to add

  • boldface
  • bulleted and numbered lists
  • headings
  • hyperlinks
  • images
  • italics

You can even use your word processor’s styles feature to format most of the items in the list above. But if your writing is headed for a digital environment, such as a blog or website, there’s a more reliable and efficient way to format: writing in markdown.

Markdown, Made Easy

Markdown is a way in to creating HTML—the language of the Web and other digital environments and you don’t need to be techy to figure it out. It doesn’t take long to learn, especially if you use Daring Fireball’s Markdown Dingus. The Dingus is a free online tool that supplies you with a cheat sheet for the markdown “syntax,” in the margin, and it then converts your markdown to HTML. Just follow the steps in the image below.

Markdown Dingus

Once you have your HTML text, you can pop it into your blog’s text editor. In WordPress, put it in the Text tab.

Markdown in Scrivener

You don’t have to write in the Dingus. I write in Scrivener instead (Scrivener is great for organizing blog posts). I’ve created my own markdown margin cheat sheet using the Project Notes area in Scrivener.

Markdown cheatsheet Scrivener

If you use Scrivener for Mac, you can export a file to the Multimarkdown (.html) format, which is similar to Markdown. No need to use the Fireball Dingus. This approach doesn’t work seamlessly for PC users, though.

Markdown Anywhere

Once you’re familiar with markdown, and you don’t have to rely on a cheat sheet, you can write in markdown in any word processor or text editor. I’d recommend trying the Hemingway app because it also doubles as an amazing proofreading tool.

Markdown is simple to learn, and saves you from having to fuss too much with formatting while you’re trying to get things down. Learning it will also prevent the wacky formatting that can occur in digital environments.

Image by Downloadsource.es

Blogging in Markdown—Without a Plug-in

Go around please sign

by C.K. MacLeod

Writing in markdown can make your blogging process more efficient. If you've been blogging in WordPress, until now, you've been able to use a markdown plug-in, such as Markdown Quicktags, to convert markdown to HTML for reliably formatted blog posts.

Unfortunately, Markdown Quicktags no longer works with WordPress 4.0, and the developers have no plans to update the plug-in (thanks to Nina Amir for this information). What's a blogger to do? Until better options become apparent to me, it's time for a temporary workaround.

A Workaround

This workaround involves a few extra steps, but it'll work.

  1. Write your blog post in markdown, in a word processor of your choice.

  2. Copy and paste your post into the left pane of the Jon Combe markdown editor.

Text written in markdown is on the left; the formatted version is on the right

 

 

  1. Download the HTML file generated by the Jon Combe markdown editor by clicking on the button with the angle brackets (highlighted in yellow).

Jon Combe HTML button

 

  1. Open the HTML file in a code editor like Notepad++ (free). Open the code editor first, then open the file from within the code editor. Note how you're now able to see the HTML tags in blue.

HTML in Notepad++

  1. Select the text with HTML tags and paste it into the Text tab in WordPress' editor.

This workaround works for Blogger, too. In Blogger, you'll paste the text with HTML tags into the HTML tab.

Do you write in markdown? Have you discovered a new markdown plug-in that works with  Wordpress 4.0? Do you have another workaround?

Image by Taber Andrew Bain

Markdown for WordPress

Little girl riding a bike with training wheels.

by C.K. MacLeod

Writing in markdown can make your blogging workflow more efficient. It can also prevent formatting mishaps that show up after you hit Publish.

In a previous post, I explained why I use markdown, and how you can learn to use it in about 10 minutes. In this post, I'll explain my writing and publishing workflow for WordPress, using markdown.

Note: You'll use different steps for different blogging platforms. Stay tuned for a future post about markdown for Blogger.

Quick Steps

  1. Write your post in markdown.
  2. Copy your post into the Text view in WordPress.
  3. Install the plug-in Markdown QuickTags.
  4. Turn markdown into HTML, so that your post is now formatted for the web.

The Steps, Explained

1. Write your post in markdown. You can write your post in

  • Word,
  • Scrivener,
  • Google Docs, or
  • a plain text editor (like Notepad).

If you want to, you can write your post directly in the WordPress blog editor, but make sure you're writing in the Text view and not the Visual view, where you might usually write. You'll see why in a minute. The point is that markdown is flexible. You can write in markdown pretty much anywhere.

Text view in WordPress
Text view in WordPress

I write blog posts in Scrivener because it's another place to store them if my website self-destructs. I also like that Scrivener will allow me to store all of my blog posts in one Scrivener project folder, so that everything is in one place.

2. Copy your finished post  and paste it into the Text view in WordPress. Save it. This is the same place where you'd paste text with HTML tags, too.

3. Download the free WordPress plug-in Markdown QuickTags*. Activate the plug-in and go back to your saved post. Markdown QuickTags has added some features to your WordPress editor.

4. Make sure you're in the Text view of the editor and click on Render in the bottom right.

Render option in Markdown QuickTags
Render option in Markdown QuickTags

Your markdown text will be converted to HTML, the language of the web. Click on the View tab to see your formatted post.

And that's it!

Markdown is training wheels for HTML. So, if you don't know how to write in HTML, markdown is an easy way to tap into the benefits of HTML, and prevent formatting mishaps in your blog posts.

*I learned about the Markdown QuickTags from Joseph Michael in his Learn Scrivener Fast course.

Image by Jenn Durfey

Markdown for Bloggers

 

Coding is the new literacy

by C.K. MacLeod

Writing in markdown is an efficient way to write blog posts. In fact, it will forever change the way you blog.

So, what is markdown? It's a coding language like HTML, only much, much simpler, and you don't have to be tech savvy to learn it. It takes about 10 minutes to learn, if that.

Why I Use Markdown

Here's why I use markdown:

  • Markdown is easy to learn.
  • I don't have to fuss with the formatting features of a word processor when I write, which means I won't introduce wonky formatting into my writing when it comes time to publish a post.
  • I can copy and paste my writing to and from Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, a text editor, Blogger, WordPress, etc. and the formatting codes will travel with it.
  • Markdown can convert to HTML, so if you've never been able to figure out how to write in HTML, you may not need to (see below).
  • It makes my blog writing and publishing process more efficient.

What does it look like?

Here's what markdown looks like in action:

Text written in markdown is on the left; the formatted version is on the right

The text in the left pane is written in markdown. It kind of looks like plain text, right? That's because it is. It's pretty much what your writing would like if you only used your keyboard and didn't click on any of the fancy formatting buttons in your word processor.

The text on the the right is what the published product will look like. Pretty, right? This particular markdown editor took the codes from the text on the left and converted it to formatted text. Do you see the codes? No? Read on...

Commonly Used Markdown Codes

Here are the markdown codes I use the most in my writing (I've left this list in plain text so that you can copy and paste it into Scrivener. if you like):

Headings
#Heading 1
##Heading 2
###Heading 3

*italic*

**boldface**

Horizontal rule
---

Links
[Tech Tools for Writers](hyperlink) - no space between square brackets and parentheses

Images
![alt text: description of image for people with visual impairments](image link)

Block quote/pull quote
>first line of paragraph

Ordered list
1. first list item
2. second list item
3. thirdlist item

Unordered list
- list item
- list item
- list item
Can also use * instead of -

Soft break (poetry)
Line is followed by two spaces
First line [space, space]
Second line [space, space]

Other
em dash: Alt+ 0151
en dash: Alt + 0150
hyphen -

Go back to the image above. Do you see the markdown codes now? Allow me to highlight some of them for you:

Markdown sample
The markdown syntax in this sample is highlighted in yellow.

If you don't find what you're looking for on my markdown list, check out this markdown cheat sheet. Print it and stick it next to your computer.

Or, if you write your blog posts in Scrivener like I do, you can copy and paste my list of markdown codes into the Project Notes menu in Scrivener's Inspector, where it'll always be available when you need it.

Markdown in Scrivener's Project Notes
Markdown in Scrivener's Project Notes

Try This

If you'd like to learn markdown, but you're not convinced that it's easy, try this guided, step-by-step interactive tutorial. I dare you to say it's hard after trying this tutorial.

If you'd like to see markdown transform to polished text right before your eyes, try John Combe's* free markdown editor. Use my markdown "cheat sheet" above and write something in the left pane. Watch your markdown text turn to beautifully formatted text.

In my next post, I'll explain how I use markdown for blogging on WordPress, and I'll share my writing and publishing process with you.

*I learned about the John Combe markdown editor from Joseph Michael in his Learn Scrivener Fast course.

Image by Michael Pollak