SearchLink Broke My Writing Workflow

- 3 min -
Joe Buhlig

A couple of months ago I mentioned my use of Ulysses along with a few other tricks to develop a writing habit. And that has worked great… for a time. That is, it worked until I saw this tweet by Brett Terpstra.

SearchLink is one of Brett’s projects that I discovered about six months ago. I don’t remember what it was that helped me find it, but I remember thinking it was exactly what ADHD brains need. A tool that finds the link I want without needing to go to a browser to get it. Any time a browser is needed, focus decides it’s break time.

So I put SearchLink on a list of tools to install and explore.

Brett’s tweet reminded me of the tool. But I was on an accidental focus break when I discovered it. I was supposed to be writing at the time, but instead, I was cruising through Twitter. And I was cruising through Twitter while looking or a specific tweet I needed to link.

That’s when I moved my task of exploring SearchLink up to an active task for the week.

But then this happened:

That night my wife was going out with a few friends. And the next thing I knew I was installing the SearchLink services and setting up my hotkeys.

The last two weeks have been a bit of a mess for my writing workflow. And that’s because Ulysses thinks it would be cool to change the markdown formatting on the fly instead of rendering it at the end. And that means I can’t see the links created without clicking into each one.

Could I work around this and get used to it? Absolutely. Do I want to? Absolutely not.

So I ditched Ulysses… again. It seems like every time I think I have Ulysses figured out, I end up leaving it a month or two later. I should learn from my own history. But who does that these days?

With Ulysses gone, I immediately went back to using MultiMarkdown Composer. It was the core of my writing workflow previously, so I went back to it. But in doing so, I lost some of the features in Ulysses that I was using.

The easy one is the structure. I was tagging my articles by the type of article and then viewing those with filters in Ulysses. The simple answer to this is to recreate the folder structure in my iCloud Drive and not worry about it. Yes, I lose the filtering, but with simple folders in place of tags, I get the same effect.

The hard one is the goal-based writing that I do. I have a set number of words I like to produce for different types of articles or posts. And Ulysses does an excellent job of showing a visual for when you have reached that goal. But there’s a bit of a danger in this as well. By having the visual, there is a tendency to stop writing and wrap up when you achieve the goal. I suppose this is fine if you’re ok with all your articles being close to the exact same length. But there is something about it that seems fake to me.

There is no concept of goals in MultiMarkdown Composer. I can still see the word count in the info panel at the bottom of the screen. And since I know what my goal is, it only takes a glance at the bottom of the screen to know if my goal is met or not. But it is also out of my view and not as easy to see while I am writing, which means I have a tendency to keep going after meeting the goal.

I also lose the ability to track my writing goal streak. In other words, how many days in a row have I hit my goal? At this point, this is unnecessary. After a couple of weeks, I wasn’t checking the streak anyway. I had a daily habit in place. That’s all that mattered.