Writing fiction with Atom

I’m giving Atom a try this year for writing short stories. After fighting with other tools, I feel most comfortable with code editors, so why not try it?

Things that I like about Atom:

  • Flexible Tree View: I can simply drag or open any folder in Atom and it will display the files on the Tree View. No need to setup a library or be limited to a set of folder(s) each time I use the app.
  • Plain Markdown files: Unlike Scrivener or Ulysses, all my writing is stored in plain Markdown files, which is the easiest, most compatible form of storing data. At least I think so. This also allows me to use the files directly for generating static websites via Jekyll, Github Pages or, my preferred, Blot.
  • Minimal UI: Small feature set, and distraction-free UI.

I have been using Atom to write Markdown on and off for a long time. Here are a few things I had to configure to have a good writing experience.

Add necessary packages

Configure core packages

  • Enable autosave
  • Preview Markdown directly using ctrl-shift-m
  • Add to the spell checker the markdown grammar text.md
  • [Optional] Disable github package for a cleaner status bar


  • Learn to use bookmarks

Update [2020-01-25]

  • For centering editor while writing markdown
  • For distraction free writing install Zen (alternative to typewriter)
    • Core Package: zen
    • Shortcut: Cmd+Ctrl+Z
  • For writing style validation
  • For highlighting the current line in the editor
  • For “bonzo” writing. I have not tried this but it looks fun
  • Spell Checking by pulling up a menu of possible corrections
    • Shortcut: Cmd+Shift+;
  • Preview Markdown by toggling Preview mode
    • Shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+M

The articles below inspired me, and helped me get started on the right track:

January 1, 2020

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