IA Writer for Long-Form Writing?

I’d appreciate advice from iA Writer users. I really like Ulysses and use it every day but I’d like to avoid subscriptions whenever I can. I’ve contemplated using iA Writer but I’m not sure it will work well for long form writing. This is important because I’m in the beginning stages of writing a book.

Do any of you have experience with large writing projects using iA Writer? My main concern is managing chapters and sub-sections. Any advice/comments will be appreciated!

I found this great TWiT video with @RosemaryOrchard as the guest. Great job @RosemaryOrchard!

I was going to say that I’m pretty sure that Federico is using iA Writer, but now I think he may be using 1Writer…

Are you on the Mac, iOS, or both?

Yes Viticci has used and flogged IA Writer for long-form writing for about 18 months, but he always flits from app to app, as he’s shown with RSS readers, task managers, and writing apps.

The bare white-on-black or black-on-white options, compounded by deliberate refusal to allow users to choose fonts that aren’t the 4 installed ones, keeps me away from using the app for long form.

Take a look at Scrivener or Highland 2 as well. The latter is Mac-only but you didn’t specify the OS(es) you’re using.

Both, I’m completely in the Apple ecosystem.

I have Scrivener and it is a great app but more complex than I want. I want a clean text editor with a good way to manage chapters for a long book and without a subscription. I don’t want much. :slight_smile:

I use iA Writer with Working Copy for writing Markdown. It’s a solid app and works well for me.


Since you have used Ulysses, I am Magine you appreciate the simpler interface. Therefore, Ia writer is a good choice there, though it has less features. It is rocksolid. It also operates very simply in terms of file management. This I like. But since I don’t do much longform writing, though I do it and I a rider, the most killer feature is transclusion. I don’t know too many apps that allow it, but it lets you include text from another file in your document. In this way you could compose your different chapters or sections separately, then include them into a single file and export it as a whole book.

Another suggestion I have, though it requires waiting, is to wait for Brett Terpstra’s new version of nvAlt - called nvUltra. Which, from the already published documentation, will be a powerful writing utility.


Interesting. If I were forced to summarize Scrivener and the way I use it, that would be pretty much how I’d word it.


I’ve written four books in Pages, and two in Scrivener. I tried using Ulysses for long form but found it was too restrictive in terms of features, but good for blog posts and shorter articles. In all honesty, I enjoined using Pages more than any other tool, and like the interface, although many people feel differently.

IA-Writer looks nice but after my experience with trying Ulysses I do not think it has the features I want. I use a lot of features that “minimal” editors do not have and find them too restrictive.

I cancelled my subscription to Ulysses because I couldn’t justify the cost for only 4-5 short articles a month, and now just use Pages again for both long and short form writing. I really don’t mind organising in folders and use tags in Finder to quickly access my work. On the iPad, Apple recently implemented a really nice chapter/section view which is great as long as you use the heading styles.


I’m also considering Pages for the book. I like the annotation and highlight features for editing with the Apple Pencil. I was not aware that one could have a chapter/section view in Pages by using the headers. I’ll give that a try. I do most of my writing on the iPad as I prefer the form factor and Smart Keyboard.

I like Ulysses but given all of the options available, l’d like to avoid the subscription (same with Fantastical—I like it a lot but still haven’t convinced myself that I should spend $40/yr for a calendar app). :slight_smile:

Its so evident including me, that most of us circle back fo Fantastical’s subscription and its impact it has on us. :slight_smile:

I write long form (for academia) in various text editors – sublime text, typora, iA writer, Multimarkdown composer – and the thing that binds them is Marked 2. I deal with viewing and navigating sections/chapters that way. Not sure this is quite answering your question (that is, working with chapters in iA writer), and some of the editors are easier to get around sections than others. For example, I find sublime text to be fantastic navigating long documents (by headings), but it’s not quite as pretty as editors like iA Writer. hth.


Indeed! It is a great app., that most of us want to continue using but is it worth $40 that each of us much answer for ourselves.

I am writing my novel in iA Writer (on Mac and iOS), and will make it “pretty” in Pages or Vellum for final export, not sure which yet. I was using and loved Ulysses, and don’t even care that it is subscription but I found it’s use of Markdown to be too fiddly for my liking. I kind of like minimal options when writing. I just need to get those words out.


FYI: If you use MacOS and have Setapp (umbrella subscription), you already have a sub for Ulysses. Setapp is a nice, growing list of curated apps and is a nice way to have a single sub which provides plenty of value (tools in form of apps).

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It is probably too involved for you to explain in this thread but I would like to know how you manage chapters and sections in iA Writer for a book length manuscript. I like iA Writer but I’m a bit concerned about the lack of an organizational structure. Any basic helpful advice? :slight_smile:

Absolutely. Sort them by name, and name each chapter (a new file document for each, of course) like, “Chapter 1.txt”, “Chapter 2.txt”, and so on. It works. Once I stopped thinking of my text editor as the final destination for my writing, it became clear that I loved writing in iA Writer, but that was not the place that the text was going to be formatted (beyond perhaps a chapter divider). Example:

Chapter 1

Welcome to Ithaca, New York


Thanks! I thought there was some secret sauce I was missing. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately not! Hey, people used to do this stuff on typewriters, didn’t they? :grinning:

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Really good reminder, perhaps we are making this way too complicated. :slight_smile: