Editorium Update – The Passive Voice

From Editorialium:

You can’t do much carpentry with your bare hands, and you can’t think much with your bare brain. —Bo Dahlbom

High school English class. First year. The teacher explained how:

  1. Come up with a thesis statement.
  2. Create an outline of arguments that support the thesis statement.
  3. Write an article based on that outline.

That’s really a terrible way to write! requires that organize your thoughts before knowing what those thoughts really are. But there is a better way.

Brainstorm, organize, write

What are your thoughts on a particular topic? In the days before computers, you would find out like this:

  1. Get a pack of chips, something like this.
  2. On each card, write an idea related to your thesis (the fancy word for anything you want to write about). Do No try to do this in any kind of order; are brainstorm here: good ideas, bad ideas, none ideas—all go down the cards. When your brain is empty, stop.
  3. On a large desk or table, spread the cards out in front of you. Keep them messy.
  4. Read the cards and stack them on a given topic until you have multiple stacks. Throw away (pardon the pun) those that don’t belong anywhere or that now seem irrelevant or stupid to you.
  5. Put the cards in each pile in some kind of order. Importance? Chronology? You choose.
  6. Put the stacks in some sort of order. Each stack represents a section of your paper.

After you have captured and organized your thoughts, write your work, beginning with the first card and ending with the last. Each stack has a caption. Each card has a paragraph. When you’re done, edit your document as needed.

Card-based writers

But then again, that was in the days before computers. We now have much better ways to do what I just described, with new card-based writing programs appearing all the time.

. . . .


Milanote is the most expensive of the programs listed here, but it’s also the most ingenious. Cards can be created and then placed on the screen in any order you like. After you have them all, organize them into columns. Finally, export everything as a Word document, Markdown document, or plain text, ready to edit. Milanote is elegant, a pleasure to wear.


Speare does not support free form card placement; each paragraph is a card, and all the cards must be arranged on a “board”. After creating and organizing your cards, “compile” them into a document, copy the document, and paste it into Word or another word processor.

Link to the rest in Editorium

PG would be interested in hearing from POS visitors who use or have used programs like the ones described in the OP. He would be interested in understanding the advantages and disadvantages of using something other than a word processor.

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