Using the “right tools for the job” is one of the basic maxims for any sort of work. As a young boy growing up on the homestead of an old Indiana farm, my grandfather and father both taught me the necessity of using the proper tools for whatever job we were preparing to do. With them, you can accomplish just about anything. Without them, you might get things done but you’re more than likely just shaping up to make a mess of things. Years later, as a young Lieutenant on an Air Force flightline, I had the same mantra drilled into my head by crew chiefs and production superintendents with decades of experience fixing multimillion-dollar aircraft. All this sage advice doesn’t mean that I haven’t used an adjustable wrench as a hammer or a screwdriver as a pry bar, but I’ve got the scars to prove that such ‘wisdom’ is usually folly. Now, as a father with my own four children, I try to pass on this wisdom to them–knowing full well they will eventually have their own scars as they, too, learn through the hard schoolmaster of experience.
Writing is no different than repairing a car insofar as both require tools. What is unique about writing, however, is that there isn’t necessary a ‘right’ tool for getting it done. Sometimes I use pen and paper to write. Though as much as I love the pleasing feel of pen on paper or the nostalgic smell of a freshly-sharpened pencil, most of the time I write on a computer. I have tried just about every app you can imagine for writing, both online and offline. There are some really great tools out there for writing, but the one I that is currently my favorite is Draft, by Nate Kontny.
Draft is an online writing tool whose simplicity masks its amazing capabilities. At first glance, it is a pretty basic writing app that looks and acts a lot like many others. Under the hood of this unassuming tool is an amazing compliment of formatting options (including, beyond standard options, markdown, image insertion, footnotes, comments, to-do boxes, etc.), an array of publishing options (to blogs, online storage, etc.), the ability to import/export to just about any format you can imagine (text, html, Evernote, MS Word, Google Docs, pdf, mobi, epub, etc.), killer version control, and the opportunity to have your documents professionally copy-edited (for a fee, of course). As if all this weren’t enough, Nate is continually adding functionality and making it more powerful.
You can use Draft as a simple text editor or you can unleash its capabilities and pretty much forget about the need for any other tools. It’s an amazing app…and did I mention, it’s free?! If you use it a lot, however, as I do, be a sport and purchase a subscription to help Nate keep this fantastic tool alive and continually getting better. He didn’t ask me to say that–or even to write this post–but, hey, it’s the right thing to do.