How to use StormJournal

Read our quick intro to fast-track your storming, or continue on for guru-level detail.

The quick intro

Registration

Simple and painless. Just give us a name, email and password, click the link in our verification email, and you’re done. Once verified you can log into the Writing Suite and start creating. 

The Writing Suite

The suite is a workspace we designed so you can spit out ideas and chase trains of thought with abandon, with special tools that bring info from around the web into your workspace, while keeping your idea threads organised and available to you as you sculpt them into written work. 

You’ll also find word-crafting tools alongside your writing space to make that process easier, too. Our aim is to smooth out all the rough edges of the creative process.

There are a few key parts to the Writing Suite, which we’ve given handy names to help you navigate. Here’s a quick snapshot, and you can find more details further down the page:

Project Organizer

The first thing you’ll see after logging in is a left-hand sidebar we call the Project Organizer. This is where you create new documents (which we refer to as ‘StormClouds’ because they’re actually much more than documents – we’ll get to that in a minute), and organize your StormClouds into Projects. Projects are like folders in that they’re simply a space to group and name related StormClouds to keep things organised.

The organizer also offers quick hacks for navigating your Writing Suite, like toggling Projects open and closed, and jumping to particular StormClouds on screen. You can also toggle tooltips on and off as you need them, but they’re handy to keep on while you’re getting acquainted.

StormClouds

This is where the magic of StormJournal lies. StormClouds are what would happen if a regular word processing document and a bunch of browser tabs got together and birthed a much better-looking baby.  They’re like documents in so far as you’ll create a new StormCloud for each new topic you dive into, and they contain a fresh notepad by default. But alongside that notepad is a tool for brainstorming words and ideas specific to that StormCloud, and a window where with one click you can explore those ideas by seeing their results in a Thesaurus, Wikipedia, YouTube, Web Search and more – all on the same screen. Each StormCloud includes:

  • A Notepad, simple with minimal formatting, for you to do what you do best – write and create. We intentionally kept this space sparse, so you can focus on getting your ideas down without fuss.

  • The ‘Terminal’, which is like a search bar for spitting out terms to explore later. Or immediately, if you want to. When you type a term here and hit enter, it appears and stays as a clickable option underneath the terminal search bar. But the cursor stays inside the bar, so you can immediately start typing your next term if you’re on a brainstorming roll. Terms can be anything you want more information on, from a word you want synonyms for, to a broad concept you want to see search engine results for.

  • The Explorer Window, for deep-diving into your terms. Once you’ve added a term to your StormCloud via the Terminal, simply click on the term to open the Explorer Window directly underneath it. Here you’ll find results for your term from a range of sources around the web, including a powerful Thesaurus, Dictionary, Wikipedia, YouTube, Web Search and Maps. All just a couple of clicks away and right beside your Notepad, making research quicker, easier and more organised than ever – and readily available for you to revisit anytime.
Together, these three tools make up a StormCloud – and now you can see why it’s much more than a regular document! While StormClouds are great for simple note-taking and organising your musings, they’re also a place for idea-generating, researching and word-crafting.

All the gritty details

More on the Project Organizer

Default Project

When you sign up, we create a default Project for you titled ‘Unassigned StormClouds’ where you can place miscellaneous StormClouds. If you ever delete a Project, any StormClouds still inside it will automatically move into this default Project.

Creating new Projects and StormClouds

Adding a new Project is easy. Just type a Project Name into the designated field in the organizer and click the ‘Add Project’ button – voila. 

Then simply click the ‘Add new Storm Cloud’ button under any Project within your organizer to create a StormCloud within that Project. 

Editing and organizing Projects and StormClouds

  • Editing: After you’ve created a new StormCloud, you can change its name later by navigating to that StormCloud within the Writing Suite and editing its title on the Notepad. (Quick tip: click the double arrow icon next to the StormCloud’s name in the organizer sidebar to quickly jump to that StormCloud in the Writing Suite). Project names can be edited within the organizer sidebar, by clicking the cog next to them.

  • Deleting: You can delete both Projects and StormClouds by clicking the trash icon next to their name in the organizer. Except for the default ‘Unassigned StormClouds’ project – that will always exist for unassigned StormClouds to fall into.

  • Re-ordering: You can also reorder Projects and StormClouds by clicking and dragging the white arrow next to their name in the organizer. You can’t drag a StormCloud into a different project, but you can reassign it to a different project from within the StormCloud itself, via the Project dropdown box on the Notepad.

  • Toggling views: Your Project names will always appear in your organizer sidebar, but you can collapse the StormClouds within them to keep the organizer tidy by clicking the up-arrow icon next to the Project name. (If you have tooltips turned on, this icon will say ‘Toggle StormClouds for this Project’ when you hover over it). Once collapsed, simply click the icon again to show all StormClouds for that Project.

    In addition to keeping the organizer sidebar tidy, you can choose to hide or show StormClouds within the Writing Suite workspace by clicking on the lightning bolt next to the StormCloud’s name in the organizer. As well as toggling the entire StormCloud to hide or show, you can also selectively toggle its Notepad by clicking on the pencil icon, and its Terminal and Explorer Window by clicking on the speech bubble icon, all within the organizer.

    You can also collapse the entire organizer sidebar by clicking on the up-arrow next to ‘Projects’ to keep your screen extra clean.

More on the Notepad

This is where you do all your writing, from fleshing out the idea-nuggets in your Terminal and Explorer Window, to simply capturing fleeting thoughts to return to later. You might as well jot your notes in the same space you’ll expand on them! StormJournal’s mobile site helps make this easy too, with a handy Notepad view for taking notes on the go. 

Back on the desktop, a few basic formatting options will appear when you select text on the Notepad, allowing you to bolden, italicise and underline text as well as create headings and lists. Notepads also show a word counter at the bottom. 

While we’re working on the ability for you to export your work to various publishing platforms, we’ll continue to leave the advanced formatting to those specialised programs. StormJournal’s goal is to be a frictionless space for you to ideate and draft your work, and ultimately, to break down some of the mental barriers associated with early parts of the creative process. This means our focus is on the user-friendliness of our Writing Suite, and our simple Notepad reflects that focus. 

Speaking of – you’ll see a light green bar running down the right-hand side of the Notepad. We call this bar the Expander, and clicking on it does two things. It shifts and pins the Terminal and Explorer Window to that spot on the page, and it expands the length of the Notepad window – so you can take your brainstorming and research tools with you when a lengthy writing session calls for a lengthy Notepad. (If you choose not to lengthen your Notepad, a scroll bar will simply appear inside it when your writing nears the bottom. So you can keep writing while the Notepad window stays the same size). 

The Expander comes in handy once you have a few StormClouds on the go, so you can choose whether to have compact Notepads with scroll bars inside, or longer Notepads where all text is visible. You can return an expanded Notepad to its original size (and re-pin the Terminal and Explorer Window to their original location) by clicking the very top of the Expander bar.

Also coming soon to a Notepad near you: the option to embed rich media, to further help the early info-gathering stage of the process. 

More on the Explorer Window

When you click on one of the terms you’ve added to a StormCloud via the Terminal, a new world of info bursts into life in the Explorer Window. It’s a portal to a range of research and writing tools – just click on any tool’s tab to instantly return the search results for your term in that tool. This makes it much faster to search the same thing across multiple platforms, simply clicking between tool tabs rather than opening new browser windows and typing the same search terms repeatedly. 

On the flip side, you can also click between terms while staying on the same tool tab – for example, leaving the Dictionary tab open while clicking on different terms to see their definitions. Once you’re done, you can close the Explorer Window using the button in the top right corner to keep your workspace uncluttered. The last tool you used will be the first tool that opens by default when you explore a new term. 

This is all designed to keep your ideas flowing, help you expand on them and enable you to jump between them without any mental overhead. The results of your deep dives are kept handy alongside your notepad for when you’re ready to start writing. 

Let’s cover the Explorer Window tools in more detail…

Related Words

This gives you a suite of word suggestions related to your term, making it a powerful word-crafting tool. It can help you find the perfect descriptive word, or spark inspiration by expanding on a term with related concepts. It provides synonyms, antonyms, generally associated words, broader words, more specific words and other suggestions. It even offers strict and loose rhyming words. Another slick feature of this tool is that simply clicking on any of these suggestions will add them to your terms list under the Terminal, so you can then click on the suggested term to explore its Related Words. A true deep dive that encourages you to keep the ideas flowing. 

Phrases

Sometimes, if your term is distinct enough, we can find common turns of phrase that include your term – which is helpful when you’re thinking up clever headlines and playing on words. For example, the term ‘circle’ shows phrases like ‘vicious circle’, ‘crop circle’, ‘circle the wagons’ and dozens more. This can also help you understand common contexts for words you’re less familiar with, and generally expand your lexicon.

Dictionary

As simple as it sounds; this tool brings back definitions from Oxford Dictionaries. If there are no results for your exact term, we’ll suggest other related terms that might be more accurate – so you can add those to your terms list and search their results too. 

YouTube

Clicking this tab will bring back results from YouTube for your term. Best of all, clicking a result will open and play the video right there in your Explorer Window. So you can watch and type notes in your Notepad, or add new terms via the Terminal, all at the same time. Genius! It also allows you to keep videos handy without needing a bunch of browser tabs open. Just keep that term in your list and the next time you click on it and select the YouTube tab, your video will be there ready to play. 

Wikipedia

Are you ahead of us yet? Yep, this tool will bring back a list of results for your term from Wikipedia. When you click on a result, the Wiki article will appear right there in the Explorer Window. 

Web Search

We use Bing to search the web and bring back results for your term – both web pages and images. Just like the YouTube and Wikipedia tabs, clicking on a result will bring the page into your explorer window, and you can navigate back to the search results any time using the ‘Back to results’ button in the top right corner. Also like the other tabs, we keep the returned results right there in the tab for you to easily return to.

Maps

Your terms might also include locations, in which case this tab will open up a Google Map pointing right at it, allowing you to zoom in or out and move around the map to get better acquainted. 

These are the tools that make StormJournal special. We know creating can be a messy task; keeping all the information you need in your brain or on your desktop can make you feel cluttered and eventually disdain for adding to the pile. We’ve put a huge amount of emphasis on decluttering your workspace, while keeping powerful tools for brainstorming, researching and writing close at hand, and your thought-trains accessible but organised. In providing this space for you, we hope to reduce some of the mental burden of the process so you can focus on doing what you do best – creating!

A few final points on the Writing Suite

    • Everything is autosaved, every few seconds. In the header we display the status of your StormJournal, such as ‘Saving…’ and ‘All saved’. Make sure the status displays ‘All Saved’ before closing the window or logging out.

 

    • If you have lots of StormClouds open at once, the page might slow down. Try toggling a few closed and things should come right.

 

    • If anything goes haywire, try reloading the page. That’s ‘Ctrl + F5’ for Windows and ‘Apple + R’ or ‘Command + R’ for Mac. If you’re still having trouble, try logging out and logging back in. If all else fails, email us at team@stormjournal.com and we’ll look into it for you.

 

  • On mobile devices there’s only enough room to show you either the Notepad or the Terminal at any one time. You can flip between them by clicking the top right corner of the StormCloud.

Ready to start storming?