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Writing on the Run

Pocketwatch

I find these days that my writing time isn’t very regular – instead, I end up snatching bits and pieces of time here and there to be able to wrap up things by certain deadlines. I’m currently racing against a two-week deadline for an anthology at the end of the month, and haven’t yet finished the story, let-alone started on the rewrites.

Frantic!

We also have company at the moment, which further compresses my time overall, including my writing time.

So what’s a guy to do?

I’m falling back on technology. I have my trusty little iPhone, complete with Pages and the cloud. Now it’s exceedingly difficult to use Pages for editing on the iPhone – the screen’s small to begin with, and when the keyboard takes up half the space, it’s tricky to work in the remaining tiny, squished space. But the iPhone, with Siri voice recognition, does make a pretty decent dictation engine. So it’s great for banging out first drafts of new scenes.

For actual editing, my iPad and Pages is awesome – it allows me to access all my current work anywhere I am (ok, as long as I have wifi – I didn’t wanna pay the extra $15/month for the cellular connection). And the external bluetooth keyboard means I have plenty of space on the screen to work.

So how do you use technology to help you squeeze the most writing time (or the most out of your writing time) from your daily schedule? Any apps you recommend, or tricks of the trade you’ve learned?

9 thoughts on “Writing on the Run”

  1. Portability is key. I use Scrivener on my iMac, which is where the bulk of the writing is done. But when it’s time to be on the go, Scrivener solves that too. Everytime I close the story on the Mac, it syncs files to Dropbox and then I can work with a plain test editor on tablet or phone. When I reopen the project on the desktop, the files I changed are resync’d and a new version made. I love that version control just in case anything goes amok, which doesn’t happen often but it’s good to have the security just in case.

    I love being able to steal writing time anywhere. Wifi is necessary to make sure I’ve got the latest stuff with me. If I leave the house and know I’m likely to write, I make sure I sync my device before I leave.

    This is a lot better than what I’ve done in the past where I’d write bits of manuscript in emails and send them to myself so I could paste them back into a word doc.

    I have tried Siri yet for dictation. I’ll have to give that a go someday. Meantime, I’m looking forward to something that will just plug into my brain so I can just think the manuscript into being.

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  2. I use Siri, but only when I’m not around anyone – feels too weird talking to your phone, especially dictating a story, in the presence of strangers. LOL… I use Pages the same way you use scrivener. Any issues with losing changes between devices, or is it pretty solid?

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  3. I am not really ‘original’ in my use of technology. My sticky notes app on my phone has voice listing capability so if I have a few minutes alone in the car, or while I’m overseeing my kids at the park or river/lake/pool I’ll use that to plot out the chapter highlights in a story to flesh out later when I can sit at the keyboard.

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  4. On the go I can’t do anything g about technology. I dislike typing anything on My phone, so when I’m out and about I revert to the old ways, I carry a notebook with me at all times. When dialogue comes at me or a new scene I write it down then before bed I input into my word document.
    I don’t use pages as I won’t give up my 16 years of filing system I’ve created on Dropbox. And I’ve yet to find a reliable useful word compatible app that syncs with Dropbox.

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  5. Scrivener’s been solid. The couple of times I’ve had issues, which have been user error on my part rather than he tech’s problem, I’ve been able to recover quickly using Scrivener’s versioning or Dropboxes versioning.

    There was a while that I used Evernote on the run. I did lose stuff in there a couple times, and once lost a chapter, because it didn’t have version control and sometimes it doesn’t figure out there’s a “conflict” that needs to be fixed.

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  6. I have an Android based phone and tablet. With them I use OneNote and CloudOn. My phone has a dictation/recorder so I sometimes use that in the car. My phone also has a stylus and handwriting function for quick notes.

    With OneNote and Cloud on I can use ‘track changes’ and all the other functions of Word. I do need either Wifi or to use my data plan for cloud access, but that hasn’t been a problem.

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  7. I’ve yet to find technology helpful to me on the run. My iPhone is way too small to be of any help, and I’ve tried so many apps for my iPad that have let me down, lost files, or simply won’t work with dropbox, I’ve given up. Pages would be great, but I refuse to use their clunky folding system.

    So when I’m on the go, I rely on the old fashioned way of writing. I always keep a notebook and pen in my shoulder bag and if a scene or pieces of a dialogue come to me, then I note it in my book.

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  8. I must be the most archaic here, because I still use a pen and paper for my first drafts! :{O- Because I’m constantly adding ideas in the margins, scratching through paragraphs that don’t work and circling things to check during the edits, I find the notepad the most convenient method of writing. Now, I am using the Dragon Voice Software to put my first draft into the computer, which is MUCH easier than typing. It still requires a lot of editing but it’s much faster.

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  9. I’ve gone old school and invested in a Neo by Alphasmart from eBay. They’ve stopped making these, but authors are finding new uses for them. It’s especially popular among NaNo authors (no other distraction). I keep this on my bed stand and type away, because I get my best inspiration at night and it usually follows by a cramp in my hand from writing in my notebook. Also, I hated typing everything into the computer from my notebook, so this is much more convenient.

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