Great for Brainstorming: Introducing MindNode

MindNode, made by our friends IdeasOnCanvas, is a beautiful mind mapping app for Mac, iPad and iPhone. What’s more, MindNode integrates nicely with Ulysses: You can easily turn a mind map into a written outline, or – vice versa – turn your notes into a beautiful map. So, if you’re a writer looking for new ways to boost your creativity and sort your thoughts, make sure to check it out.

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Create Beautiful Presentations — With Ulysses and Deckset

At work with Ulysses I rarely hold presentations – we’re a small team, so it’s mostly easy to stay up-to-date with everyone’s projects without extensive meetings. For the rare occasions I need to prepare presentations, I happily rely on Deckset. I simply take down some bullet points in Ulysses and turn them into pretty slides with Deckset in a breeze. Deckset does the layout work for me, and I don’t have to fiddle around with Keynote or PowerPoint. It’s super fast and easy, especially if you’re familiar with Markdown (which you are, since you’re a Ulysses user).

Deckset turns Markdown files into presentations and works great with your favorite text editor – that is, of course, Ulysses! In the following tutorial, you’ll learn all you need to know to make both apps play together nicely. If you want, you can download Deckset’s trial version and a sample presentation for your first attempts.

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Professional App for Working With PDFs — Introducing PDF Expert

Many people who write a lot — lawyers or academics, for example — also have to work a lot with PDFs: They read and annotate books and articles, or edit and sign contracts. PDF Expert is an easy-to-use, powerful PDF editor for Mac that perfectly meets those needs. Today, Denys Zhadanov, VP of marketing at Readdle, the makers of PDF Expert, introduces you to its powers. What’s more, you’ll have the chance to get PDF Expert at a reduced price.

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Let ProWritingAid Help You Edit

There are a great number of technical tools and apps for writers available – but which of them will actually help you get your work done? In this post we inspect ProWritingAid, a tool that helps you edit.

ProWritingAid

Writing needs editing. There is a reason that the “ugly first draft” has become so proverbial. Your first draft is written with the brain in creative mode, and it’s often better to not get caught up in specific word selection and sentence construction. Writers who think they can skip editing are almost certainly wrong. You can almost always come up with stronger words to express your ideas, and clearer ways to get your point across. And since most of your everyday texts don’t justify the expense of a professional editor, the way to go is self-editing. This is where ProWritingAid excels.
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Can Background Chatter Help You Focus? – Coffitivity

There are dozens of little tools aimed at authors and writers, promising to help them focus or even write better texts. How are they supposed to work, and can writers actually benefit? Rebekka is investigating and will occasionally blog here about her findings.

Who needs Coffitivity? If you’ve got the privilege to sit here, you probably don’t.
Who needs Coffitivity? If you’ve got the privilege to sit here, you probably don’t.

1. “Morning Murmur”

James Joyce is said to have written parts of his novel “Ulysses” in a coffee shop in Triest, Italy. He and many other great 19th/20th century writers spent considerable time in literary cafés and bars. Did they just want to escape their shabby rooms to be warm and comfortable, or was it because the chatter and laughter was helpful for their creativity and focus? Coffitivity is built on the belief that the latter can work. There’s no café within reach? With Coffitivity, you can still have its soundtrack.

I started with “Morning Murmur”, which sounds like a bunch of college students chatting and babbling about all sorts of things, but of course you won’t understand what they say exactly. Just one thing is striking: No one is laughing loudly, no one is getting upset, no one is noisily directing his mate to the table back in the corner. Whatever is their secret, they sound by all means pleasingly relaxed.

2. “Lunchtime Chatter”

On the Coffitivity website there are 3 free coffeeshop sounds you can listen to. In my opinion, the differences between them are negligible. It would be interesting to compare with the listed premium sounds, at least their names – “Paris Paradise”, “Brazil Bistro” and “Texas Teahouse” – sound promising. To unlock these, you have to sign up with Facebook and… I don’t know, because it doesn’t work. The button “Go Premium” is leading nowhere. For the time being I’ll have to take my chances with the college students.

3. “University Undertones”

At first I did not expect Coffitivity to work well for me, because I’ve always preferred a rather quiet surrounding for writing. Actually I feel quite on the right place for that in an office with developers. They mostly type and make a nerdy joke every now and then.

But I was surprised: I did find the background murmur beneficial for my concentration. On Coffitivity’s website they’re citing from a peer-reviewed study of the University of Chicago: “A moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition.” To add my piece of evidence: Yes, I was able to seal off and work more focused. This worked well for around two hours, then I felt I needed some rest. But even this may rather be a question of taste. While I would neither spend entire days in coffeeshops, some writers did – and wrote some of the most renowned works of literature.

So here’s the bottom line: Background chatter can actually boost your concentration! Go to your local coffeeshop and get a hot latte on top – or just listen to Coffitivity.

Available online on coffitivity.com. You can also download the free Coffitivity iOS app.