Having basically converted from writing almost exclusively in Word, the last time I wrote fiction, I'm now enjoying writing in Markdown using plain text and TextMate. Here's why:

So I've been writing today, and I think, despite a slight false start, I'm really liking how my writing turned out today. Unlike a lot of other pursuits (homework, dancing, sometimes knitting) that are really fun when I'm doing them but draining after the fact, getting writing done--particularly fiction writing--almost always leaves me feeling invigorated and fresh. I feel like I can do more when I'm done writing than I can when I'm done with other things.

What I love about fiction writing in Markdown:

1. It's a subset of HTML, which means that HTML elements work in markdown. This is cool because as I'm writing I can use HTML comment tags, <!-- like this -->, to make notes to myself. For instance, today, I something changed with how I was writing a character today, so I left a little note to myself marking the occasion, which will persist with this document, and will be nice to keep with the documents. Also I'll write up outlines and keep them in comment tags so that nothing sneaks through. Also TextMate highlights these tags, so that they look different from the text while you're writing.

2. If you're not writing linearly, or think that you need to go back and edit a paragraph later, but don't want to break your forward flow with an edit, you can throw a hash or two or three (#) before the line and TextMate will mark the entire line in a special color so that you can pick it out quickly, or jump to it with the quick reference. If you forget about it, then when you run markdown or maruku, you'll know very quickly that you have to change something.

3. Mark down makes pushing things out to the web, and a well formated paper/pdf document equally easy (particularly with Maruku), and I find tweaking a LaTeX document in TextMate (and even running LaTeX) to be way better than running it from the command line.

4. The Markdown subversion support is really great, and it's nice to know that your stuff is all backed up and versioned properly.

5. Between MegaZoom (a SIMBL pluggin) and good text zooming support, a good--full screen--distraction free writing environment is easy to obtain, and a pleasure to write in.

6. Slim and Stable. This is a TextMate issue, of course, but, I really love not having to run Microsoft products.

That's it. Good Wholesome fun.