Writing on an iPad

People often ask how I manage the massive amounts of writing that I do…with an iPad and an iPhone.
Simple answer is that writing is no different than texting…it’s just usually in larger chunks.
But this is the long answer and you’ve been warned. 20130829-221348.jpg
The above is a screen shot of all my writing apps on my iPad. Below, I’ll break each one of them down and explain how I use them.

Writings by ice cream studios. It was, if I remember correctly, about $3. This one is set up like a bunch of loose paper on a wooden desk. You can organize it by adding different works spaces, and inside each work space you can have unlimited loose “papers”. Once you open the individual files, it presents you with a clean, distraction free writing zone, with a specialty keyboard for quotes, parenthesis and such. If I use my Bluetooth keyboard with it, everything but the specialty keys goes away.
I use Writings if I’m in an distractible mood, or I feel the need of crisp, clean format. Probably my third most used app, though I do use it more for difficult scenes.

Notes. Comes free with the iPad and iPhone; also syncs automatically between both devices. It’s just like writing on a yellow notepad; I use it for sudden bursts of inspiration. It’s also my sole writing app on my iPhone, though sometimes I will text bits and pieces to myself. Second most used app.

Unlike most journal apps, this one lets you put in chapters and subsections within each chapter.
I use this exclusively to put finished sections in their proper place. I had to disable the Dropbox link as this caused funky things to happen, but I put up with it because it is a good way to get that “I’m reading this on a kindle” feel that I often need.

Storyist: the most like Microsoft word of all my apps…and perhaps this is a good time to mention my absolute loathing of Microsoft Word and similar programs. Too many features and fonts and formats; I find all these options distract me from the flow of the story. Also, I like something pretty to look at while I’m writing.
Storyist is a good happy medium for me: it allows me to put my story in the unfortunately necessary manuscript format, but all the extra stuff is easier to hide than Microsoft Word or Pages.
Storyist has a number of features, like character sheets, scene snapshots, and outlines, and other such stuff that I don’t really bother with. Like Journals, it divides the document into chapters and subsections. This I do use, because it allows me to quickly find my place without getting bogged down in the sheer number of words and pages that have accumulated during the writing process! I also use this app to figure my total word count.
Like Journals, I use Storyist exclusively to put completed bits in place; Journals I use when I want to read through for continuity, Storyist I use more for editing purposes.

Chapters and Chronicle are very similar…and they both come from the same developer. They both have the option to create multiple notebooks, and in each notebook the entries are sorted by time and date; just like a paper journal. Chapters has a word counter that Chronicle doesn’t–but Chronicle has this neat little feature where you can read what you’ve written without the keyboard popping up. Also, Chronicle has this cool little feature where you can put down the location where that segment was written. I suppose that, for my purposes, it’s just idle curiosity, but it is rather neat to see the various places I curl up to do my writing…kitchen table, living room couch, library, car, bed, break room at work…
Chronicle has to be my number one most used app at the moment. Chapters used to be, before I figured out that screen toggle between writing mode and reading mode in Chronicle. I love that feature!

Memo is the best handwriting recognition app I have found yet, and believe me, I’ve tried plenty of them! It’s also the only one I found that’s for free…go figure. I use it on the rare occasions I want to use longhand versus typing. This only happens every once in a while, and usually only lasts for one page. When I’m fighting with block, I open up Memo and start writing with a stylus, thinking it will help get the juices flowing.
It never does. Notes, with the cute yellow school-paper background and marker-felt font, or a regular old text message to myself are actually the two that do help break up block. You’d think that, knowing this, I’d open them up first on a blocked day…but no. For some reason I always go in for the romantic notion of handwriting remedy–even though I know history is not on my side here.

Phraseology is this nifty little app that breaks down my writing for me. Grade reading level, Flesch-Kincaid readability score, which words I use the most, how many compound sentences vs simple ones…just a great way to check myself on the mechanics of writing. So far I’m doing pretty good, I think!

And last but certainly not least, this two motivational do-dads on my iPhone: My Minutes and Word Tyrant.
My Minutes is a free app that reminds me of my writing goal. Right now it is set for an hour a day, seven days a week. Every morning it will remind me of the goal. I start the timer every time I sit down to write and the app logs it. I don’t always do the full hour in one sit down; often I’ll write for five minutes and pause the timer to go do something else. When I’ve completed the required hour (whether in one big chunk or a bunch of little segments), I get a message that “You’re all done Writing!” and a green dot for the day. Extra minutes for a day do not count for tomorrow’s writing…and if I miss a day or don’t quite get the hour in, I get a big, ugly, red dot.
It’s surprisingly motivating, more so than assigning a particular time of the day for writing.
And Word Tyrant is a way of keeping track of another kind of progress: word count.

Anyway, those are the apps I use for writing. I haven’t gotten to the big editing phase, so I can’t say which I’ll use once the bulk of the story is written.
And of course, I couldn’t really do a post about writing without mentioning my trusty bluetooth keyboard. I have a ZAGGkeys Flex: sturdy enough to take the daily wear and tear, but cheap enough that I don’t worry about the abuse it takes. While sometimes I’ll use the iPad keyboard, most often I’ll haul out the Zagg and pound away on that.

20130830-191855.jpg Keyboard and iPhone used together.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a green dot to earn!

Categories: Writing | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Writing on an iPad

  1. This is very good to know. So which do I normally use when reading the story?


  2. KGH

    Good collection of apps. I’m personally addicted to Microsoft Onenote. That probably works for me because I use OneNote on my PC at work and then sync it to my phone (android) and iPad. You can also use it on Skydrive (MS’s version of the cloud).


    • hmhedges

      I thought you had an iPad?


      • I have an iPad mini with the free OneNote app on it. I usually generate my notes for class on the full version of the program on the laptop the college provides me and then view, edit, and so forth on the iPad. I also do this for notes I am preparing for books, articles, and chapters I’m working on. I love the notebook metaphor.


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