Looking For Advice: Writing On The Ipad

I’m working on changing my work habits as a writer, and part of that is changing tools. Over the years I’ve progressed from fountain pen and legal pad to manual typewriter to desktop PC to portable pre-laptop to laptop to notebook to netbook…

Now, I’m typing this on my brand spankin’ new iPad 2, composing in Simplenote for cut & paste into WordPress. I’m loving the device as a new toy, but got it primarily to be my new main writing tool.

I knew in advance that I wasn’t going to be satisfied typing on the touchscreen’s virtual keyboard (which I’m doing right now, and it’s about like I expected it to be). So I have an order in for a Bluetooth keyboard to use with it, allowing me to use the combo pretty much as a netbook.

Thing is, I’m trying to decide what app or combination of apps is best to use for writing books. So if any writers out there have been down this road already, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

As I said, I’m using Simplenote right now. I also installed Plaintext to try, and have seen quite a few folks recommend IA Writer. Ideally I’d be able to automatically, or at least easily, sync files to Dropbox or something similar so that I could freely switch to other machines as need be. In that vein, I’m curious about DocsToGo as well.

I had also been thinking of starting to use Scrivener for Windows, and still might if there’s a good way to get it to interact with whatever app I wind up using on the iPad.

Again, if you have any experience with this stuff, please share.

Good Memories of 2010, Day 1: My New Phone

My relationship with my phone is traditionally contentious at best.

I hate talking on the phone. I hate when the phone rings. I often ignore it, I rarely check messages, and I’m a pain in the ass to get in touch with.

But I love my new iPhone 4.

I still hate talking on it, and its ring still makes my soul bristle. But oh the things I can do with this little gadget…

I’ve watched movies and TV shows on its gorgeous, high rez screen, streaming from Netflix. I’ve watched many a clip on YouTube. I’ve absorbed some great TED conference presentations via their dedicated app.

I’ve read several novels, and been amazed at what a pleasant experience it is. The screen is sharp, the text clear (and resizeable). It automatically saves my place. I can lay on my side in bed and hold it in my palm, tapping the screen with my thumb to flip pages. And I always have a library in my pocket, ever ready for reading emergencies.

I listen to a lot more music. I have an 80 GB iPod with over 9,000 songs on it, but rarely carried it anywhere. My iPhone has only 16 GB, so I can’t get all my music on it, but I can get a hell of a lot, and since it’s my phone, I always have it with me. I also listen to Pandora, discovering new music, and there are other great music apps like Bing’s (which lets you listen to the top 100 songs of any year back to 1947) or Wolfgang’s Vault, a treasure trove of live concert recordings.

If I want to identify a song I’m hearing, I can let the SoundHound app listen a few moments, then it’ll not only ID it but give me lyrics, links to YouTube vids of the song, and buying info.

I can plan workouts and keep track of my progress at the gym.

I can keep up with my peeps on Facebook and Twitter, check email, do on the spot research, identify constellations, get directions and maps (including topo maps of wilderness areas), explore with Google Earth, track the weather, make notes, shop, and of course take pictures and videos. Which I can instantly upload to share if I want.

All with this little wafer of tech.

“Take Me Out” by Atomic Tom Performed on iPhones (Song of the Week 8/25/10)

I don’t know this band, but really dig their song, and the fact that they’re playing it with various apps on their iPhones rather than actual instruments is tres cool. Not to mention great viral marketing.

Maybe it’s time to head for the MARTA train and read my book out loud from my iPhone…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Putting Twitter & Facebook In Their Proper Places

I wrote a while back about the way social media is bringing us closer together (The New Telepathy of Social Networking), but of late I’ve been also pondering the ways that technology is boxing us in. And I’m not even talking about how World of Warcraft has reduced the actual world of thousands of people to an area about the size of their butt, with an orbiting satellite the size of the fridge.

When I went to see Bruce Springsteen a few months ago, people in the crowd were standing there texting while the sheer experience was roaring around them. Type type type…”At Bruce Springsteen show. Great stuff. Photos to follow…” Then they look up only to look at Springsteen through the device. The gadget is now a lens they need to even look at the world.

I always had that problem even with a camera, well before the advent of all these cool toys. I lived in Europe for three years, bought a pretty good SLR 35mm camera, took three or four rolls of film worth of pictures the whole time I was there. I just don’t like having a camera with me, urging me to use it, making me look for good shots rather than just seeing the world all around me.

Now, my cell phone is a great little camera, and if I use it twice in a year, call Guinness Book. But at least I’ll have it with me if I see Bigfoot.

And check out this poor soul:

These people just trekked for five days to reach the summit of Mount Toubkal in Morocco, the highest mountain in North Africa. Three of them are exhilarated, taking in the splendor. The other is playing her Nintendo DS. Maybe this’ll count as a high score.

Since getting into social media like Facebook and Twitter, I’ve had surges of activity broken up by periods I just didn’t want to bother to get online, and felt like I was failing to get to something I needed to do. Not in an addictive sense, but in the sense that I was letting folks down by not being “there” for them, wherever “there” is. And that I was losing ground in the professional sense because those inactive days I wasn’t working to increase my web presence and thus, hopefully, make more people aware of my book.

No more. I’m going to ease up on myself. I may not be one of the pithy geniuses who stitch their whole day together with witty tweets that are very engaging to read, but I’m not one of the folks who tells you I need a good shampooing and am eating a Nilla Wafer, either.

I’ll tweet when I have something to say. Which, really, is what everyone should do. I won’t go through my day looking for things to tweet about, or trying to figure out how to condense everything I do into 140 character summaries.

I’ll continue to blog as I’m inspired to do so, which has been my actual approach anyway, in spite of vague plans to blog on some kind of regular schedule.

And Facebook will be a place I check in a couple of times a day to see what my friends are up to, not a place I hang out in to make sure to catch the occasional status update that may tell me something useful or make me laugh.

I have books to write. Vistas to see. A splinter of a social life, a real social life, I desperately need to nurture back into something vital and whole. The social networking can help me with these things, but I have to make sure it doesn’t replace those things.