Distraction-free writing projects with Inspire 3

Hello!

It has been an extremely long time since my last post. Since then, I’ve started lots of new personal projects (mainly Decus Ensemble, plainsightSOUND and a PhD), as well as learning design projects for clients old and new. There’s been a lot of writing and I’ve come across a lot of new tools and revisited some old ones (I’m looking at you Speechify). In particular, I’ve been looking for something distraction-free to help with writing projects. Today’s post is about one of these new tools – Inspire 3.

A new way of working

Until recently, I was using a combination of MS Word, OneNote and carefully arranged folders on my laptop to manage my larger writing projects. This has been working well for years but the lengthy pieces required for my PhD have been putting my information management skills to the test. One of my PhD supervisors suggested I might want to try a markdown editor as he found them really useful in his own writing. As a Mac user, he was using Ulysses so as a Windows user, I needed to find an alternative that works for me. After a few false starts, I seem to have finally settled on Inspire 3.

Screenshot of Inspire 3 homepage - tool for distraction-free writing projects

Screenshot of Inspire 3 hompage

Described on their website as “A Windows Minimalist Markdown Editor for Notes and Distraction-free Writing”, Inspire 3 has turned out to be the perfect tool for anyone who, like me, often works on multiple, complex writing projects at once. The idea is that by forcing you to write in plain text, with nothing fancy to distract you while you’re writing, you can just get the writing done. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’m already a convert! At first, it didn’t look like much but when I used it to edit a large chapter I’ve been working on, it all fell into place.

A quick review

I’ll be honest – I initially tried to do it without reading the instructions because I like to work things out as I go along. That didn’t work for me and I realised quickly that the provided Introduction should have been the place to start.

Screenshot of Inspire 3 - tool for distraction-free writing projects

Inspire 3 introduction

The first thing I did after reading it was turn on dark mode. I do this whenever it’s available so was really glad it’s available here. And it looks so good!

screenshot of Inspire 3 app dark mode - tool for distraction-free writing projects

screenshot of Inspire 3 app dark mode

I was then quickly able to import my document and automatically split it into different ‘sheets’. This meant I could easily work on each section individually without the stress of navigating through a huge text document. Although it still requires exporting to Word processing software for final layouts etc, this is going to be a great addition to my process. My workflow is probably now something like:

        1. Rough ideas – Word
        2. Fleshing out draft – Inspire 3
        3. Layout, referencing and bibliography – Word

It might look clunky, but this will help me focus a lot more on each stage rather than trying to make it look pretty while I’m writing.

The verdict

Overall it’s been a really good experience. There are a few things that could make academic writing a bit easier (e.g. manual citations and referencing after export to Word)

PROS:

        • Clean interface for distraction-free writing
        • Try before you buy (10-day trial available)
        • Affordable pricing
        • Opportunities for free licences through website
        • Great customer support
        • Simple import and export to multiple formats (additional formats available via

CONS:

        • Windows only
        • No plugins available for reference managers such as Mendeley or Zotero
        • For some people might work better as part of workflow rather than standalone product

It’s only been a couple of weeks but I’ve been recommending this to everyone since I started using it. If you do any kind of writing, give Inspire 3 a try. I wrote this blog post using it!

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