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
- Add Markdown grammar
- Plugin: language-markdown
Soft Wrap At Preferred Line Length
- Set the default language to Markdown
- Plugin: default-language
- Add word count to the status bar
- Plugin: wordcount
- Add file-specific icons
- Plugin: file-icons
Configure core packages
- Enable autosave
- Core Package: autosave
- Preview Markdown directly using
- Core package: markdown-preview
- Add to the spell checker the markdown grammar
- Core package: spell-check
- [Optional] Disable github package for a cleaner status bar
- Core Package: github
- Learn to use bookmarks
- Core Package: bookmarks
- For centering editor while writing markdown
- Core Package: typewriter
- For distraction free writing install Zen (alternative to typewriter)
- Core Package: zen
- For writing style validation
- Core Package: linter-write-good
- For highlighting the current line in the editor
- Core Package: highlight-line
- For “bonzo” writing. I have not tried this but it looks fun
- Core Package: atom-hemingway
- Spell Checking by pulling up a menu of possible corrections
- Preview Markdown by toggling Preview mode
These article inspired me, and really helped me get started on the right track: