Two drafts in one
Sitting on a hard drive in my study are my earliest novels, each written in Microsoft Word in the mid-to-late nineties. That's how I started writing Eleanor, too; somewhere along the way, however, I migrated to Scrivener, though I never really took advantage of its features. For a little while I was enamored with the idea of writing in plaintext, and I briefly used BBEdit for that. Later, when I wrote Awake in the World, I began to use Apple's Pages; I would export my novel to Word format, however, when sharing it with my editor. Pages was reliable enough at importing a Word document and all of its tracked changes, and it was more pleasing to write in than Word itself. I tried Ulysses for a little while after this, convinced that writing a novel in Markdown would be a wise decision, but I struggled to output a manuscript that would render some of the more complicated formatting I required. I was pretty sad about that; writing in Ulysses was more enjoyable than writing in any other application I'd used before.
With a recent project (now in a drawer for awhile), I discovered a process that worked very well for me, and that I'm using for my two current projects:
- I write first in Ulysses, without much care for formatting or prettiness. I use a font that makes me happy. I don't bother with Markdown formatting. I leave notes to myself scattered throughout each file. Because nothing has to be perfect, I can just write, and try things without worrying about how they'll turn out.
- When I have a draft, I then rewrite it in Pages, tidying up the formatting into a presentable manuscript, and taking the rewrite opportunity to throw away words, sharpen other words, stitch together some torn seams.
It's two drafts in one, effectively, and at the moment, it seems to be working very well for me.