Process and Tools: Markdown

NaNoWriMo looms, but one of my tasks is to get back to posting regularly before the end of the year, insane writing frenzy or no insane writing frenzy.

So, this might be abbreviated, but it’s here.

At some point I may expound on all the reasons I don’t like word processors, but I don’t. And if I did, I still would find something to fault them for.

What I want and need is a program and writing process that I don’t have to think about, that stays the bloody hell out of my way, at least till after the writing part is done. And I think I’ve finally found it.

Just in the past month or two, I’ve begun to write in plaintext, using Markdown for formatting. There are several advantages to this, and few disadvantages, as far as I’m concerned.

First, text files are portable and open format. They’re usable and readable on any hardware, software, what have you. (Open formats are important to me, but that’s a whole other post.)

Second, you can write plaintext in anything. Word processor, text editor, whatever.

Third, the formatting is, for the most part, simple, intuitive, and second-nature to anyone who ever composed emails in the ’90s. My stories have no need of hyperlinks or images, at least not so far, so it’s all pretty simple. _This_ or *this* will render text in italics, __doubling__ either **one** will render bold. And apart from that and paragraphing, how much more are you going to need? A bit, but Markdown covers that, too.

And fourth, it converts directly into clean HTML. Since I publish only electronically, that’s perfect. Epubs are basically made up of HTML and CSS, so converting my manuscript to publishable format is a snap.

So, tomorrow morning, I’m going to create a new text file, and begin writing The Queen of Ares, and not worry at all about formats or obsolescence or compatibility. I’m going to Just Write.