Tag: tools

Writing tool stack

Digital Tool Stack

On day 50 of my writing journey, I thought I’d share the tools that help me maintain this creative flow.

An idea can hit at any time, sometimes in the form of a few sentences or a big idea. Even while reading something else, they might pop up. I use two frictionless tools to capture these thoughts.

One tool is the voice recorder on my Apple Watch. Always on my wrist, it’s ready to capture any sudden idea. The recordings are stored in iCloud, so I can transcribe and process them later on my Mac. Second is Drafts, which opens lightning fast for quick notes. Drafts lets me type immediately, unlike other apps.

On designated days, like Saturdays or Mondays, I sit down and process these thoughts from the week. The ideas may have grown and developed by then. It’s not always easy for me to star at a blank screen and type. That’s when the AudioPen comes in handy.

Despite the friction – it’s not as quick to open a website and start recording – AudioPen captures my rambling, letting my ideas flow freely, and creating an initial draft.

WordTune is my go-to editor. I use it to polish and refine my work. Once it’s ready, I go to WordPress, where my common log entries live. With just a few clicks, I can schedule posts quickly and effortlessly.

Buffer is my go-to hub for distribution. The app sends my words to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon. I tailor the text to each platform.

Finally, I use Substack to send those words as a newsletter.

I love these tools, they make writing easy.

2024 Paid Tools

Here are the set of paid tools I use constantly. I think of them as workers I hire for specific jobs.


  • acm – ACM comes bundled with Oreilly & Pluralsight. Though I don’t use them often, I turned to them whenever I have to learn a a technical concept.
  • Everand – Been using Scribd for a very long time. Recently they carved out the books service into a separate service. I read at least 1 book a month here. This year might be different though.


  • Audiopen – Bought the life-time plan when it came out. So much easy to dictate, transcribe, and blog daily commonlog.
  • Wordtune – Wordtune helps me edit the posts I write. It is an editor that I hire to polish my writing.


  • Descript – Google docs for audio & video editing. If you are a podcaster, Descript is a must-have tool. Make editing transcript, clips so much easier.
  • Riverside – Tool to record all my podcast interviews. Have tried different tools (including the one from Descript), but nothing is as user-friendly as Riverside.
  • Transistor – Where I host Gravitas WINS podcast. Amazing service. Plus been part of Justin Jackson‘s Megamaker too.

Networking / Coaching

  • Zoom – I use for all virtual calls. All my coaching calls happen via Zoom.
  • Linkedin – Been a premium user for 2 years. Since I write and post there daily, it helps to be a premium user. LI has morphed to be a first-class professional network. That is where I meet most of interesting people from a career perspective.
  • Twitter – In Dec’2023, subscribed to the premium plan to check out if it helps in getting a good user experience. So far no. May be too early to tell.


  • Dropbox – All my files are here. Been a user ever since they started
  • Opalstack – Where I host all my sites & apps. I have been using their previous avatar (Webfaction) for more than a decade. Switched to Opal when Webfaction was sold to Godaddy.
  • Webflow – My younger son uses it to make his site

What are the tools you pay for?

Why I’m using self-hosted WordPress for commonplace notes?

As soon as I decided to post my commonplace notes in public, the first thing I had to figure out was where to post them.

Choices are:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter (paid version)
  • WordPress (hosted)
  • WordPress (self-hosted)
  • Medium
  • A static site
  • Substack

Among these options, I chose self-hosted WordPress. Before I tell you why I didn’t choose anything else, let me tell you why I chose this option. When I explain why I chose this option, it’ll be clear why I didn’t choose anything else.

WordPress has been around for a while. Really long time. There’s been tons of tools to replace WordPress, but none have succeeded. Because they’re so popular and have been around so long, there’s a whole ecosystem around them – whether it’s minimalist blog themes or plugins.

With WordPress, you can write and read in a very clean, unobtrusive way. There’s only one person who can ruin the reader’s experience: you, the host.

My writing can be read by a wide range of people using a wide range of tools because it has RSS baked in. You can read them via email, desktop, and mobile.

With WordPress self-hosting, I don’t have to pay for hosting since I already have Opalstack website hosting. I can also host on a domain of my own: https://commonlog.jjude.com/

It’s easy to export (because it’s been around for a long time, is well-designed, and is well-maintained). So if I decide to leave WordPress in the future, not only is it possible, it will also be easy.

Now that I’ve explained why I chose self-hosted WordPress, it will be clear why I didn’t choose anything else.

LinkedIn and Twitter have become walled gardens. There’s no RSS functionality. So many ads on Twitter ruin the reading experience.

I use Substack to host my newsletter. It’s good for newsletters or for getting your newsletter discovered. They don’t have the theming feature like WordPress (although they do allow some customization). I don’t want to be held hostage by their licensing terms either. I don’t want to be affected if their licensing changes in the future.

My main site is static. There’s too much friction with static sites. I want to post daily or as often as possible, so I want it to be as easy as possible to publish.

Medium is similar to Substack. In many cases, it’s worse. Each post loads multiple MBs of files.

Consider self-hosted WordPress as an option if you want to start a commonplace notes blog, post every day and already have a host. Alternatively, you can try hosted WordPress.

If you’ve got commonplace notes, let me know on Twitter or LinkedIn (or as a comment).