I’ve been using NeoOffice for the Mac since its 0.0.1 stage. My wordproccessor needs were pretty simple: Wordperfect. Since that wasn’t possible being a Mac and all, I went for a different approach: Free.
NeoOffice, which is a verison of OpenOffice.org with a whole bunch of Mac-awesome packed in it, has come a long long way since those first experimental patches that allowed it to do things like print. And in that time when I wanted to write anything, stories, newsletters, posts, notes and ideas, I would fire up Neo, write it down and save it.
So what happened? I have all of these files on my computer. A single book idea can take folders within folders, files upon files. Character sketches, outlines, scene ideas, background stories, and of course the work itself.
I started looking into other things other ways of storing information. For my first try I had some basic criteria: portable, cross platform, easy to use. First thought was a Wiki. I set up MediaWiki on one of my sites. This, however, created the need for the internet. So I threw in another requirement: offline.
I found a wiki-on-a-stick called TiddlyWiki. A single HTML file you store on your thumb drive, your dropbox, anywhere you want basically, it lets you do Wiki-ness and Journal-ness. I used this for ideas, characters, research (i think half is just wikipedia links) and ocasional scene writing. This was my scrap paper, my non-linear notebook. One day I’ll show it off.
Later I participated in some Mac software bundle. I believe it was Mac Heist 2, but i could be wrong. I came with a program called Mac Journal, which I have blogged about here as my new ‘toy’. It hooked up to this blog, downloading my content, and letting me upload from it.
I started using it for a notebook, weaning off of the TiddlyWiki slowly. It was Mac only, so I still had that portable itch, but it was good for notes and research for sure. Without the Wiki-ness it didn’t have the internal links (like linking a charater’s name from an idea to the page of his sketch), but allowed for more robust entries. TiddlyWiki was a text file only. Mac Journal allowed for images and video as well. Along with some Mac-awesome.
Months later I am only kinda sold. It is a great too to store information. I use it for school, recipes, and general scrap paper. But for writing? When I open that TiddlyWiki to look something up, it still FEELS more useful.
One thing I am trying to avoid is having TOO many note taking programs. I did try Evernote, which helped with the portable problem, but its client doesn’t hook up to WordPress. There was a few others, but in the end I ditched them all, not because they were bad, but because I was spreading myself too thin. Why have files in Google Docs, TiddlyWiki, MediaWiki, Dropbox, harddrives, thumbdrives, saved on my iPod, on my phone… see where this is going? Soon you can’t find anything which is way worse than the inconviences of 50 files per story.
As it stands now, I still use NeoOffice to write my stories. (Next post is about that) but for notes, outlining, etc, I currently have Mac Journal, which is a fantastic program btw, and TiddlyWiki. I think as long as I have the XO, the tiddlywiki will stick around.In the end, quick and cross platform is just too good to give up.