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allhumanknowledge3 karma

I can comment on that first question (I'm a frequent contributor). I write for The Magazine in Markdown using BBEdit on a Mac. Some of the more complex articles (ones with many footnotes, like my Tetris piece in January) were first written in Scrivener (which is where I try to write anything of real length/complexity), then converted into Markdown via export. The reason I use Scrivener is to keep track of footnotes, interview transcripts, and citations -- basically, making sure I keep my factual ducks in a row and have all the pieces together in one place.

I do this largely because because I know that Markdown is the native language of The Magazine's CMS -- so I assume there's less friction in popping the article into the CMS. (It also makes revision diffs easy for me to view when I get back edits. I use Kaleidoscope for that, though anything would work.) I presume that an author who is not fluent in Markdown could use something else (your canonical Word document, for instance), but I'll leave that to Glenn.

FWIW, in my other freelancing work, I have never seen a publication accept (much less encourage) Markdown nor any sort of plain text format. Usually it's Word, or in the case of a blog, "put it in the CMS yourself."

allhumanknowledge2 karma

I just want to second the high school/college paper thing. I edited my high school paper for two years, and that entailed writing a column every few weeks throughout, plus of course assigning and editing all the articles. That was HUGELY IMPORTANT to my career, though I wouldn't have known it at the time. (The editor before me now works at NPR, by the way. Apparently that gig worked.)

Having some external force saying "I need your column by x date" on a regular basis is the most powerful thing I have encountered in my writing. I find it hard to write by myself, so I make myself accountable to others -- whether that's a publication that's paying me (or simply expecting me to do my job, as in the HS paper), or my wife who "expects a chapter" on Thursday and acts as a first reader.

You may be the rare self-motivated/self-contained writer. If so, awesome. If not, commit to deadlines and make sure those you commit to will actually bug you if you fail to meet them. :)