Writing Mode Shortcut

After making writing a routine for this newsletter I wanted to automate things a bit so that I can get into the writing flow even faster. After some tweaking I think I have finally created a version 1.0 of my Writing Mode Shortcut.

Essentially, this Shortcut sets the brightness and volume where I want it, creates an event called “Writing” in my Calendar, sets Do Not Disturb, Opens Drafts, and adds a word of encouragement before I get started.

Here’s a breakdown of each item.

Set Volume

When I am writing I like to have my volume loud enough where I can hear it, but not loud enough where it distracts my thought process when writing. After some trial and error 20% is about where I need it to hit that sweet spot.

Set Brightness

Similar to the Set Volume action, I like to make sure my iPad is at the brightness level I prefer for writing. To me, 70% seems the be the brightest I want my iPad when I am in my office writing.

Add 30 Minutes to Date

This is an action that I use as a later variable. I use at as a custom Pomodoro technique.

When I first start writing in the morning it can be daunting at times to look at a blank page. When I am in that mood I often use the Pomodoro Technique to get myself going. The first step in creating a custom Pomodoro Timer in Shortcuts is with this action.

This action works by taking the current date and time and adding 30 minutes to it. From there, I use it in the next action to create an event.

You can always adjust the time in this for to your preference if you so choose.

Create Event

With the adjusted time, I create an event called “Writing” in my calendar that starts immediately and ends 30 minutes later using the Adjusted Date as a Magic Variable.

Set Do Not Disturb on Until Event Ends

Once that event is created, I use it as a Magic Variable as well for setting Do not Disturb on. After the event is created I turn on Do Not Disturb and set it to turn back off once the newly created event has ended.

I originally was going to use a simple timer for this Pomodoro Technique but I realized that I wanted to keep track of how must time I was using to write, so I decided to use the Calendar as a means of record keeping.

Of course, I don’t always hit this Shortcut every 30 minutes, so I adjust it later to reflect the actual amount of time I was writing but nonetheless it is a good starting point for me to time track my writing.

Open Dark Noise and play Coffee Shop

Dark Noise is an app that adore using when in the writing spirit. To be honest, I use it when I need to focus while working. If you don’t know, Dark Noise has a multitude of soundscapes you can listen to to help you focus, sleep, or to simply fill your ears with something.

I often use the Coffee Shop sound when I am writing. If I were able to go out to an actual coffee shop I wouldn’t be using this app. Alas, because we are in the pandemic this soundscape will make due for the time being.

Open Drafts

Once I have everything set, it is time to get writing! The app I use when writing is unsurprisingly Drafts. This Shortcut action simply opens the Drafts application. The way that Drafts works is that if you open the app it usually starts with a blank page waiting for you to start writing, which is exactly what I want.

If I indeed need to open something I have been working on, it is stupid easy to open up the drafts list and search for what I need and open it up.

I originally wanted to make this a list of items to choose from. However, after some time with it I noticed that when I give myself the barrier to make a decision before I begin writing it negatively affects my ability to get into writing flow. So, I decided that I will just open a new draft and start writing. It is more important for me to get into the flow than it is to be in the right doc.

Once I am editing or taking a break from writing I can figure out where this writing goes, but for “Writing Mode” priority number one it writing.

Notification of a random thing of encouragement

Finally, I wanted to have a list of different words of encouragement for me to use to get started. So far, I threw in a few simple things in a list.

With this list, I then have it choose a random one and display it as a notification. It is just a small thing that helps me get into a positive mood and trick my brain into being excited to write, even though it’s 5am.

You can download the Shortcut here and start to make it yours today. If you make some interesting tweaks or additions feel free to email me at jeff[at]tablethabit[dot]com (or just reply to this email). You can also share it with me on Twitter @iamJeffPerry.


This post was first shared on Tablet Habit, the quintessential iPad Newsletter. If you want more posts like this delivered right to your inbox sign up today.

Jeff Perry @JeffPerry