Why I Write Using a Plain Text Editor

I wrote my first book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, using a text editor called Ulysses. I wrote my second book, The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales using that very same app. To work with editors, I had to export the chapters into Microsoft Word, because that is the tool that editors use.

Almost everything I write, outside of some very basic emails messages, is written in this plain text editor. All of the blog posts here over the last three or four years were written in plain text.

I write in a text editor because there are no distractions. Even though there is markdown available to bold or underline or create headers, I never use any formatting while I am writing. There isn’t any reason to use formatting. When you are writing, the only things that matter are words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, and ideas. Everything else is superfluous.

A text editor is different from a browser-based writing application, be it Google Docs or Microsoft Word 365. The browser opens up temptation. What’s in my email inbox? What’s on the social channels? With a text editor, you have a blank page and a blinking cursor—and nothing else. It serves a single task: it is a place for you to create using words.

Writing in a text editor is more like writing using a typewriter. You bang on the keys, words appear, you love some of them, you hate others, you hit the delete key to remove what doesn’t work, retype the very same idea using different words, recognize that the new words still don’t capture the idea, and you back up and start over again. Once. Twice. Many times.

There is something about the minimalist tool that is a text editor that allows the words to come more easily. There is a purity to the act of writing using the simplest of tools, having all of the options that constrain the writing removed or eliminated. It’s just you and your thoughts and your words, or the words that come through you from somewhere outside of you.

If you haven’t written using a plan text editor, do give it a try. You may find that the words come more easily, and that they assemble themselves with a lot less effort.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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