Using Markdown on WordPress

My appreciation of Markdown began when I created my account at a place called Steemit. I have been using it to write articles in Scrivener for publication at Steemit, but that isn’t my only blog. I have several WordPress blogs and am about to start a magazine-style blog. It occurred to me today that it would be a good thing if I could use markdown to prepare the documents for that blog as well.

So I did a little bit of searching.

The first article I came across was from WordPress support, but it apparently only applies to WordPress blogs hosted on, not self-hosted blogs. I’m including the link because it includes a link to several useful references to Markdown. Then it hit me. I went to my blog’s admin page, navigated to the Plugins page, clicked Add New, and searched for Markdown.

There were a bunch of plugins that either allowed you to write with Markdown or to import Markdown. I chose the first plugin on the list, WP-Markdown and installed it. Now, when I go to Settings/Writing and I now have a section for MarkDown. (See the image below)

MarkDown Options in WordPress

Select the items where you want to allow Markdown editing. In my case, I allowed Markdown in everything except comments. I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable allowing Markdown in comments, but those are the choices you have to make.

In addition to allowing Markdown, you can also allow a Markdown help bar, and enable the **Pretify syntax highlighter” for marking up inserted code snippets according to the language of the code. I can’t wait to try that one. I’ve been meaning to write some programming tutorials anyway, this gives me the perfect try it out.

I’ve installed the plugin on my blog, An Irene Thing and I plan to give it a try within the next day or two. Once I enabled Markdown in Posts, the default editor menu changed to the Markdown Help Bar. I don’t know if I would always have that enabled, but for now I’m going to work with it. Here’s a picture of the changes to the editor:

MarkDown in the WordPress Post Editor

Notice the two red arrows I added to the image? The first shows the Markdown for heading level 2, and the second points to the in the preview.

I like the preview ability. It makes editing a WordPress post look a lot like editing a post for Steemit. And, although I didn’t much like editing using Markdown before I belonged to Steemit, I have become quite comfortable with it. It is actually quicker than having to select things in the edit menu, especially when you are editing with a phone or tablet, something I have gotten into the habit of doing while I’m commuting.

The only downside to this plugin is that it hasn’t been tested for the current version of WordPress, but so far it seems to be working just fine. If you use WordPress and decide to install the plugin on your blog, let me know how you like it!

Originally posted as Using Markdown on WordPress on 2/12/2017 by @irenepsmith, that’s me!

Writers Should be Agile Too

What is Agile?

If you are not involved in software development, you might not be aware of the concept of agile development. The idea is that you track your project by tasks. Then each day, the team gathers around someone’s desk and each person tells the group what he or she did yesterday, what is planned for today, and any blockers that might keep the task from being completed.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the whole agile process means breaking your project down into two-week increments called sprints. For each sprint in a project release, you examine the uncompleted tasks, a list called a “backlog” and select only the tasks that can be accomplished during the sprint. Part of the concept is that you don’t over-book yourself. Once the sprint starts, you work only on the tasks you have assigned to the sprint. Although extra tasks pop up occasionally, you are not distracted by the long list of tasks that need to be accomplished.

A sample board

The tasks for the sprint are tracked on a board. You have several columns, each of which represent the state of a task. You might have:

  1. To Do
  2. Investigating
  3. In Progress
  4. Waiting for Acceptance
  5. Done (or Accepted)

Tasks start of in the “To Do” column on the left and end up in the “Done” column on the right. It may sound weird, but there is something really satisfying about moving tasks around the board. Sometimes the scrum board will be represented by software but you can just as easily use a whiteboard and post-it notes.

This is a vastly simplified description of the process, but it is detailed enough for the purposes of this article. My point in writing this is that writers can benefit from adopting the agile methodology for their writing projects.

The benefits of agile software development for the individual developer include:

  • You always know what you have to do.

  • You don’t become overwhelmed trying to do everything at once

  • You can determine what everybody is working on and how their tasks relate to yours

  • The details of defining the tasks and selecting the work for a sprint means that you are actively engaged in the process

What does that have to do with writing?

.Most writers work alone. So why should they use a process that was created for development teams? The process adds focus. You pick the tasks you are going to work on and don’t have to think about the big picture all of the time, only once every two weeks.

Let’s consider the process of writing a novel. You know what you have to do, but supposing you decided to apply agile concepts to writing that novel?

Start by laying out a list of the tasks that you have to perform to get the novel ready for submission:

  1. Come up with the idea.
    Maybe set up several tasks for brainstorming, testing the idea, refining the short description. . .
  2. Define the characters.
    You might break this down further and say, define the protagonist, antagonist, etc.
  3. Write an outline.
    This is another task that could be broken down into a series of sub-tasks.
  4. Organize the outline into chapters
    Books have chapters, chapters have scenes, lots of opportunities to create tasks and sub-tasks here.
  5. Write the first draft
    This would certainly cry out for making a list of scenes and/or chapters and creating a task for each.
  6. Review/edit the book
    Here you would create a task for each major section, and perhaps tasks for updating the order of events.
  7. Write the synopsis
    Do you want to do this all at once or write a synopsis of each chapter? Either way this makes up at least one task and maybe more.
  8. If you don’t have an agent, you might sprinkle tasks for finding one throughout your other tasks
  9. Create your proposal project
  10. More? You could get very specific or keep it general.

You can adjust the amount of detail to match the project you are working on. You can create a one-day or one-week sprint for writing a short story or create a project that has a backlog several 2-week sprints long.

The idea was suggested by the comment a friend of mine made about applying agile to writing flash fiction. He said that for a 1,000 word flash fiction story, he creates five ten-minute “sprints” and makes a list of what he wants to do with each of the 200-word sections of his story. As he writes each one, if he accomplishes the goal for that section in less than 200 words, he adds the left over to the next sprint.

That description of agile writing made me consider how you could apply that concept to longer documents. I this it just might work.

What do you think?

This article was originally posted on my blog at Steemit, you can find it here: Writers Should be Agile Too.

What’s your Dream?

I have been commuting by train from my home in Port Jervis, New York to Manhattan since 2006. It is a long ride (over 2.5 hours each way) so I have gotten into the habit of writing while I’m on the train. In fact, I’ve done so much writing on the train that in 2013, I published a collection of flash fiction called, you guessed it, Dreams in Transit.

I created this blog to talk about writing, especially about writing Flash Fiction. I may even share a story or two. If you share my interest in writing, and would like to write a guest post, contact me! I’m interesting in posts about writing techniques, particularly fiction and even more particularly flash fiction. I’m also interested in posts about the writing life, getting published, or even self-published, and stories to inspire other writers.

What’s my dream? My dream is to be able to spend my time writing about the things I’m interested in. Tell me, what’s your dream?