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Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

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This mini-review was triggered by two circumstances:
1. I have a project. It isn't exactly stuck, but does feel as if it would benefit from rethinking the structure. Which led to me thinking about how best to do it, which brought me on to 2.
2. I was mulling on a spreadsheet with cards instead of cells, wondered about the Storylines feature in Writer's Cafe, checked Anthemion's website, found there was a new version of Jutoh which included a similar looking StoryBoard feature, as well as an update to Writer's Cafe. Definitely looks a bit like a spreadsheet with cards.

And on investigation:
3. Although StoryBoard and Storylines look identical, the instructions suggest quite a lot of difference under the hood, so comparison needed.
4. And there are other approaches I could take, and other programs. So possibly a wider set of comparisons, so I know where best to turn in future when I need to address something structural.
5. And AeonTimeline 3 is on the horizon. Nice to know where that fits.
6. And worth checking for anything new.
7. And if I'm going to do it, I might as well write it down for future reference, in which case I might as well put it up as a mini-review.

And doing this systematically means:
8. I can learn and try out some of the programs in order to design, structure and write the review.
9. And then test it on my project.

I needed to decide a program for writing and storing the necessary research. The obvious choice for me was Obsidian. So I set up a new folder and made it a new vault nested inside the Scriptorium. Produces a contained space for all the work and research. To record progress, I made use of the Daily Notes feature for the first time. Most of the full writing packages such as Scrivener would have worked too - but none had advantages over Obsidian.
2. Thence to working out what to do. Brainstorming phase. I tried outlining in Obsidian, but found it unconvincing - outlines are designed to be sequential and this wasn't. But the chosen approach needed to aid developing the sequence. I felt a free-form corkboard would work - eg Scrivener's Corkboard, Writer's Cafe's Pinboard, or panes in Notezilla. I decided to try the Pinboard, not having used it previously. It was easy and perfectly functional.
   1. This produced three sections:
      1. Programs or alternative approaches
      2. Important issues and features to consider
      3. The tasks themselves - or Stages of Creation, Organisation or Reorganisation.
3. When away from the computer I needed to do something different. I tried a digital pen and paper with screenshot. That also worked easily and well, but would have been more cumbersome to shift entries around.

My original idea was to categorise the essential tasks and then to prepare a detailed comparison table of the important differences between all the options that came to mind. But I hit a wall of reluctance once I realised that this would mean spending time describing and recording options that I had already dismissed in my own mind.
So, I will simply give my personal perspective of each option up to the point where I stopped looking at it.

The huge advantage the pen and paper (including digital equivalents) option is that it is the most accessible by far. This is backed up by its flexibility in being abe to be used in all ways for all stages. And has produced more great works than everything else combined. *And* is processed neurally differently to computer based systems or typewriters. **And** it is always easy to digitise with phone cameras.
There are many digital options; I liked Notability on iOS and Squid on Android.

I use it frequently. For anything.
The big weakness with me is that it doesn't integrate easily into detailed planning. Even if I were writing a piece longhand, it wouldn't - the detailed planning would be done in my head with just enough scrawled down to trigger my memory. And this means that reformulation is difficult without just starting again. Moving things around is hard on paper, and not that easy on digital equivalents.

* For me, the main value is in not losing ideas.
* And the initial brainstorming, rough thinking part of the process.
* But it can be used at any part of the process. In organising and reorganising, it's useful being able to think through connections; drawing dynamics into the picture rather than a static diagram. And being able to incorporate notes and details at the same time.

This is Scrivener's equivalent of pen and paper as a Mac/Windows program - Windows, as usual with L&L, being a paler reflection of the Mac version. (Rant - I do wish they wouldn't simply try to slavishly copy the Mac originals; that makes it much harder work for the Windows developers, especially when dealing with functions integrated into the Mac OS, and then doesn't allow them to take advantage of similar advantages within Windows. A simpler, cruder, equivalence target would probably be more effective.)

The big downside is that it doesn't have same advantage of easy availability. Computer only. For me, that doesn't cut it in an age when phones and tablets have apps that will do very similar things (eg iOS Notability, Android Squid - I regard these as digital pen and paper).

The advantage it has is easy extraction of text and easy import into Scrivener. Which makes it a reasonable choice for Scrivener users who sit at their computer all the time.

Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

After the suggestion from KodeZverg, I started looking at, which was quite easy and intuitive. Diagram software rather than mindmap, so no outlining or import/export that isn't visual. When I first looked on my tablet, it didn't seem to work very well but it was fine on Windows (I'd note that this is true for the web version of Mindomo too); can be attached to Drive, Dropbox etc as well as local drive option so multi-device sync and availability is there. Shapes and arrows, colours, templates. Passes my quick and simple test and joins my list for trying on my project.

I started by looking at - I was interested to see what it was like. But didn't grab me at all. Then tried many alternatives. All had faults that made them worse than using a pen and paper:

* insufficiently intuitive
* too inflexible
* visuals poor, making it hard to see what is going on
* too much effort required to make them function as desired.
I had expected that having the ability to create more impactful mindmaps would constitute a sufficient advantage for at least one of the programs to outdo pen and paper. It's not as if many of them are cheap; has a free tier but its functionality is limited and only 3 elements allowed. And like many of them it then went to $5 a month. Might be okay if used regularly, but not cheap, and that is standard pricing for the multiplatform web apps. I'd probably be mostly Android, which would be cheaper, but I still didn't see anything giving the advantage I'd need over pen and paper. Far too much work required for them to be helpful with reorganisation.

So I decided to discount the category completely, though I'd be happy to look again if there's a strong recommendation for one program.

Of course, it could be a completely different story if we use a more powerful mind mapping program extensively as part of our writing workflow. If that were the case, then it ought to be easy to look at the the main mindmap to look for clues to what could be done to make things work better.

Maybe I ought to look at at some of the better programs to see see how well they would work. The downside is the cost: they are mostly subscription and not cheap; I doubt if free works well enough, from what I remember. Hmmm.
No, of course I should. I have always known that this type of visual approach would work best for me in many areas, but nothing ever has in practice. Pure mindmapping doesn't work with its central node - that makes it just a visual outliner, and text outliners don't work for me either: I need multiple links and multiple starting points. Diagramming works, but it's only a visual overview - the link with text, notes etc is still required in practice.
So back to my eternal quest to find a mindmapping/diagramming program that suits me. If it's good enough price won't matter. Cross platform is essential, web might do. Interoperability is essential, preferably linking with .txt and/or .md files. Easy is also needed - too complex and much of the effort expended is producing little gain in output.
(I note that this is an interesting comment on the Obsidian graphing, which I don't use much; what I'd really like is a graph view where I can draw the graph and the notes and links are then created. I will check to see what already exists in that way.)
Maybe a second best will do.

But using a new creative framework still doesn't address the need identified in this review.

Simple corkboard with notes (text + images) that can be formatted, coloured, resized and moved around freely (including on top of each other). afaics the content doesn't link to any writing content, just making it a freestanding pinboard for ideas, though copy and paste is easy enough to do.

Simple and easy to use. Useful for brainstorming and early development, but the lack of any structure makes it harder to use for organising etc. I'm not sure it would be worth using if you weren't already using Writer's Cafe - unless it's the only similar option you have.

Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing


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