If you took a poll of one hundred writers about their writing process, you’d probably get pretty close to one hundred different answers. Each writer has a different method that allows them to get the most productivity out of what can be a severely limited amount of writing time. As computing becomes more and more of a mobile activity, writers have more options than ever to use mobile devices in their writing. Here are some examples of the ways I use my mobile devices to maximize my writing productivity.
I do most of my drafting on my iPad, paired with a bluetooth keyboard. This allows me to write anyplace in the house where I can find a comfortable spot. I also take both of them to work some days so I can write for thirty minutes or so during my lunch hour. I drafted the first half of my first novel using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard, but experienced a leap in productivity when I got the keyboard/case to pair with it.
From time to time, I don’t want to take the iPad to work with me. In a pinch, I’ll pair the keyboard to my phone. The screen size isn’t optimal, so I don’t do that very often. It also looks funny (see below).
There are three types of apps I use: writing, file sharing, and organizing.
1. Writing Apps
I use the Ulysses app for iPad for drafting. It’s pricey ($19.99), but loved it once I started using it. I’d be very interested in a Scrivener app if they ever make one available, but Ulysses is great for my current needs.
I rarely edit on any of my devices because I like to be able to highlight and move things around with a mouse and I like have a larger screen when moving chunks of text around. When I do need to edit on the go, I use the free Microsoft Word app. It’s fine for basic editing, but comes up short when it comes to entering comments for critique purposes.
2. File Sharing Apps
My favorite is Dropbox. I’m able to access my account from my iPad, phone, or desktop. I don’t trust iCloud – I’ve seen too many reviews where users have lost documents there, and even lost some data myself (see below). Ulysses uses iCloud for storing my writing, but it has the capability to export to Dropbox, so at then end of every session I backup my work to my Dropbox account for safekeeping.
I’ve just started using Evernote for storing story ideas, character names, etc. I primarily enter notes on my phone, then view them on the iPad. I take a long walk most mornings, and it’s not unusual to have ideas pop up while I’m outdoors. It’s easy to open a new file in Evernote, enter my idea, and get back to my walk.
3. Apps for Organizing
Writers have a lot of things to keep organized. There are writer specific apps to help keep character information organized and to outline stories. I also have a few different apps to help keep “To Do” lists – I don’t live my life by them, but they’re there when I need them. I’m always looking for other apps to help with outlining and note taking though. Here are the apps I’ve tried:
A Novel Idea (Free on iTunes, haven’t found it for Android) – keeps track of your scenes, characters, locations, and ideas. The character template has dozens of characteristics you can fill in about your characters.
My Writing Spot ($2.99 for Android, iTunes doesn’t seem to carry any more) – a free form writing tool, I used it to write short character descriptions.
Story Planner ($3.99 on iTunes, $1.89 for Android) – has great features for outlining your book, but uses iCloud for storage. I entered a lot of information in it for my current WIP, and lost it when they updated the app. Love the features, but can’t recommend this app.
Idea Growr (free for Android, not sure about iTunes) – just downloaded today, so the jury is still out
Things ($19.99 on iTunes, but I got it for free several months ago when it was iTunes Free App of the Week) – This is a great To Do list/Task Manager. I only have it on my iPad however, so I have another ToDo app to use on my phone.
Todoist (Free on iTunes and for Android) – The iPad version is easier to work with, but the version I have on my phone also works great.
If you use a mobile device and apps in your writing, I’d love to hear what works for you.