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Home Articles Working with the Best Writing Program: Ulysses

Working with the Best Writing Program: Ulysses

by Kerry Dawson

There are a number of good writing or word processing programs around but nothing seems to do it quite as well as Ulysses. Ulysses can be considered a sophisticated Markdown program. It is a powerful and flexible writing program that can be used to automate the writing of web content which it can then publish directly to the web.

Ulysses doesn’t stop there. It is an excellent tool for long form writing which includes that of a book. Other Markdown editors do not have this capability. Markdown editors are excellent tools for article publishing to the web but that’s as far as it goes. Not with Ulysses though. Its combination using a database structure with sheets built on it make it an ideal tool to write screenplays and books which require a lot of manipulation of the text.

Ulysses Unique Structure

The underlying key to the tremendous amount of Ulysses power lies in its document structure which is based on a database. Documents are referred to as sheets and they all reside in the database. Sheets can compose a document such as a letter or an article. Sheets can also be chapters or sections of a book and put together to create the book. They are easily manipulated so working with sets of sheets structured in a variety of ways allows one to create a rich written structure.

Unless the program also provided a rich variety tools to write with, the database structure would not be enough in and of itself. However, the database is key to this unique program.

Web Writing or Blogging

There is little question that although Ulysses is expensive it is a writer’s delight. (I would recommend using Setapp to get access to the program as this unique distribution method will not only provide access to Setapp but many other useful programs.) As an example, although this is a Markdown editor/writer you might have trouble recognizing that. It is not fully apparent that this is a full fledged Markdown system as they have encapsulated it with protocols to enhance the experience. Instead of writing in Markdown syntax that a piece of text is supposed to be bold faced, you write out the text, highlight and using the command-b it boldfaces the text for you in Markdown syntax.

Markdown is known as a distraction free writing environment. Add to it the above kind of functionality and it becomes extremely distraction free. There are numerous commands that follow these kinds of rules. Additionally, the editor, as does any markdown program, ensures your text is not locked in to the program.

Offline Blogging and Editing

Writing in an editor such as Ulysses is a far nicer experience than say blogging online at WordPress. You have more control with less distractions which enhances significantly the writing experience. Although there are a lot of Markdown editors, few do it as nicely as Ulysses. Not only can you write but you can publish to WordPress or Medium without ever leaving the program.

Although a program such as Byword has this capability, it lacks the enhanced functionality embedded in Ulysses. Byword is certainly a nice tool but Ulysses is an excellent tool. It is very intuitive allowing the flow of your writing to happen in a more carefree and functional manner.

Not Just for Bloggers or Web Writers

Although Ulysses is by far the best program for blogging it is being used extensively for long form writing. Many associate Microsoft Word, Scrivener or Storyist for say novel or book writing. However, Ulysses is being used by many writers who at one time would have chosen the previously mentioned editors.

Ulysses unique database structure makes it ideal for book writing. You are able to compose say chapters as sheets or even sections as sheets and those sheets can make up other sections or chapters in a highly fluid manner. When writing a book you have to work with an extensive amount of text. Manipulating that text into the right spot always proves a challenge but a tool that works with the writer can make the whole process easier.

As an example, you the writer composes a section in a chapter and we’ll just refer to this section as a sheet containing all its relevant components. However, now to create proper flow you may want your sheet in different spot. With Ulysses such tasks are easy and additionally very visual. The book composition comes together due both in part to Ulysses database structure and the use of sheets which can be anything. Thus if a section or sheet would be better served in another location it’s a simple matter of drag and drop. This ease of moving blocks of text around works towards flow. If your document doesn’t flow the way you would like in a certain fashion, simply try something different.

In a standard word processor this could get very messy. You would need to use the cut and paste function pushing text in or out of the way. Rather than just grabbing a sheet as a section and moving it around to see how it feels, you would need to cut and paste areas and after a while this could grow messy. This is far from distraction free writing which implies a concentration but potentially concentration on the wrong things.

Ulysses and the Art of the Writer

I have specifically titled this “the ‘Art of the Writer” as many see this as a form of art. Today’s modern world is moving away from good writing to the graces of something perfunctory. However, writing has an element of art attached to it. A person can develop good writing skills but that in no way makes them a writer. Some writers evolve a good style from practice and others seem to inherently have a natural infinity for writing. Regardless, all writers love their art.

As an artist is drawn to good pen, paint and canvass to draw so too is a writer. if they find that brush so to speak, they will enjoy what they’re doing and just keep doing it. I would hasten to add that there are a very few good writing programs and Ulysses is one of them.

Ulysses is a slightly unique but without question an excellent product/tool in the world of writing as we know it today. Ulysses continues to grow and yet grow beautifully. A new release of the program has just come out which only adds to an excellent program. This is no small feat. Whether you’re a writer or not any tool that helps significantly with the process should not be taken lightly. This is one modern yet powerful tool for today that grows nicely with you. I have seen this product from inception till now and I knew from the get go they had something very unique to offer.

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