Posted On March 27, 2013 by Print This Post

Making your iPad Stand Up and Write with Pat Haggerty

I’m currently taking Pat Haggerty’s Scrivener class (it’s the bomb!) through OIRWA. Talk about someone who knows his software! =) Today Pat shows us how to enhance our iPad for writing.

The first time I entertained the idea of buying an iPad, I was trying to find space on the bookshelf for, “Smells Like Dog.” I said to my wife, “Looks like I’m gonna to have to build some more book cases. Where should I put the next one?”

She said, “How about over a window. We could get a lot more in that way.”


When I still didn’t turn to ebooks fast enough she used a flanking maneuver. “Hey, why don’t you take my iPad to DC with you this week. I already loaded that book you’re reading into the Kindle reader I installed on it….”

Crafty woman.

Of course I was hooked. These days my iPad is seldom out of reach. Are you baby…

Once you start carrying an iPad, it won’t be long before you wonder about writing on it. I was sitting on a hotel balcony watching a team of construction workers try and figure out how to remove a two story rock and concrete waterfall from inside the Rockville, MD Hilton, when I had that thought. One of the workers suggested explosives when BAM, story idea.

I pulled out my moleskin but I hate writing anything more than ideas on paper. I mean, I just have to type it all again later, and that requires reading my own writing. No one really wants to do either of those things, so I picked up my iPad, exited Kindle, opened Notes, and spent two hours writing.

I learned three things:

  1. No human can touch type for any length of time on a keyboard without key edges.
  2. Notes is an ok app, but it wasn’t designed for story planning.
  3. Notes also wasn’t designed for writers.

Let’s start with the keyboard. The iPad will support any bluetooth keyboard so I did some shopping around and there are three options I’d consider.

If you’re looking for a keyboard for home or work but you’re not going to be throwing it into a bag and taking it with you, you can’t get much better than the $69 Apple wireless. It’s pretty, the keys are well placed, and it has a low profile.

Pasted Graphic

For the ultimate in portability, choose a keyboard/case combo. If you look at the Logitech iPad page you’ll find several options (they also have a new Folio coming out soon which will offer better protection). At $100 their Ultra-thin Keyboard Cover offers a front cover that’s thin and light, with a smooth action keyboard.


If you want a middle choice that offers portability in a package that could stay home when not needed, check out the Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad. It’s a $70 keyboard/stand combo in a hard case that could fit in any bag. A great option if you want to keep your iPad bare bones until you need to dig the keyboard out.


(Note: I just checked Amazon and both of the Logitech options were cheaper there.)

Once you’ve got your keyboard squared away you might want to do some planning (quite rolling your eyes you pantsters). There are two planning apps that I can’t recommend strongly enough.

If you like virtual notecarding then you are going to love Index Card for the iPad. It offers various views, allows you to create multiple stacks of cards, and is designed for the iPad’s touch interface. You can print the cards, share them with Dropbox, export pictures or rtf files, even sync (somewhat) with Scrivener. At home I have a projector and an iPad video adapter (Apple offers several) and I actually project my cards on the wall to give me a larger view.

If you’re a Mind Map fan then you are going to freaking love the $10 iThoughtsHD. It’s an amazing brainstorming app for anyone who’s the slightest bit visual. This is an iPad only app, so you’ll have to check out their simplified phone version if you want to link it with an iPhone. iThoughtsHD has a number of export options (including Word) and also looks great on my projector 🙂

Planning done? Then let’s get writing. There are loads of options here so I’m going to talk about three.

If you’re looking for a full featured word processor then you can’t match the $10 Pages for iPad. The documents it creates are compatible with Word and if you leverage the iCloud then you can share between iPad, iPhone, and Mac or Windows desktops.

If you’re like me and want just a basic, easy to use editor (because you’re going to load it all into Scrivener or something later) the you can-not-beat iA Writer. It’s $1 for iPad and iPhone, and $5 if you want to install it on the Mac desktop. If you aren’t using an external keyboard iA Writer provides some nice additions the iPad virtual one. It does no formatting so you’ll have to do that somewhere else. You’ll love iA Writer’s concentration mode which blocks out everything but what you’re writing that moment. Once again, iCloud integration provides easily access to the text you create.

If want a feature rich iPad editing environment specifically designed for book writing, you might check out the $10 Storyist. I have about every iPad writing app out there and none came closer to giving me everything I needed to write a book on the iPad alone. My only problem was that I didn’t want to write on the iPad alone. I do my final writing in Scrivener on my laptop, so I wanted something simpler for those moments of portable Epiphany. So I mostly stick to iA Writer.

That’s it. An external keyboard, a couple of planning apps, and an app for your writing and you are ready to write! So get to it.


Got questions? This is the man with the answers!

Lucia Macro of Avon Books Joins Us Friday


Bio: After four years in the USMC, Patrick Haggerty studied Actuarial Science and Computers at Georgia State University. He has spent the past 15+ years developing and delivering technical training courses for Learning Tree International. On the side he has a successful consulting practice doing web application development for clients ranging from the United State Marines to Delta Airlines.

Seven years ago, stuck reading a mediocre book in yet another hotel, Patrick decided to try his hand at fiction. He may not be published, but these days you are much more likely to find him spending his evenings writing romance, than code. Patrick is an active member of RWA, RWAustralia, RW New Zealand, and is VP of Membership for Gulf Coast Romance Writers of America, and VP of OIRWA.

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23 Responses to “Making your iPad Stand Up and Write with Pat Haggerty”

  1. How long until Scrivener comes to iPad? My Kindle is dying quickly and I’d rather convert to an iPad if it can do Scrivener.

    Posted by Carol A. Strickland | March 27, 2013, 7:44 am
    • Isn’t that a question! According to the Scrivener site it’s under development but with “nothing official to report as yet.” I’ve got my eye out though.

      On a side note, there are some ways to sync the Mac version of Scrivener to an account that’s accessible by your iPad. I’ve done this and it works fairly well. The only issue I found was that I had to omit any fancy formatting until I got the files closer to being final drafts and was only editing with my desktop. For early drafts though, it worked fine.


      Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 10:12 am
  2. Morning Pat!

    I admit I don’t have an iPad. =( It’s on my list of Many Things I Want After We Redo the Plumbing, but for right now, it’s a ways away yet. I shudder at the thought of typing anything in to my smartphone – just texting is enough for me there! But I do use the voice recorder fairly often when I’m driving and am struck with a “brilliant” idea. Is there any type of software that will convert a recording into written text though?

    Thanks for posting with us today!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 27, 2013, 8:59 am
    • Ha, yes, plumbing before technological upgrades. I can so see the importance of that purchase preference order 🙂

      Are you using a voice recorder or are you using a recording app on your phone or something? If it’s a phone, then what kind of phone is it? Either way, is your writing computer a Windows or Mac machine?

      There are several options out there and the above answers will help me offer one that suits your needs most closely.


      Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 10:19 am
  3. This article is great! I recently bought a Logitech cover with keyboard (and solar power for said keyboard) and it’s wonderful. I’m writing on it now. And I’m also writing my WIP in iA Writer because I’m unable to get to my desktop. I email myself the daily production. I need to get some planning and organizing apps, though. Thanks for the great info.

    Posted by Tali Spencer | March 27, 2013, 10:46 am
    • No problem Tali. And on the emailing thing, if you enable the cloud in the iPad then you can edit in ia writer directly from the cloud. You turn on the cloud in the iPad first:
      Settings | iCloud
      (You may have to create a free account that first time)

      Then you enable iCloud for iA Writer:
      Settings | iA Writer | Use Cloud (On)

      Now, the files you create on the iPad will be auto synced into the cloud.

      Then from your desktop you can access what you write on the iCloud web page:

      Easy breezy. If you edit the file on the desktop, then upload it back into the cloud when you finish, the next time you open iA Writer on the iPad you will see the latest version of the file.

      (If you have an iPhone, the ia Writer there can auto sync too. You’ll just be a syncing fool 🙂

      Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 11:58 am
  4. Hi Pat! Great post!

    I would love to get in touch with you about the workshops you give, would you mind emailing me? I’m the online workshop coordinator for Heart of Carolina Romance Writers.

    You can get me at Gina (at) ginalamm (dot) net.


    Posted by Gina Lamm | March 27, 2013, 12:17 pm
  5. Hi Pat,

    Wow, I’m behind on software and hardware updates. I’m too clumsy to handle a laptop.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | March 27, 2013, 12:35 pm
  6. By the way y’all, make sure to check out my technology for writers course starting May 1st:

    Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 1:07 pm
  7. Hi Pat,

    Carrie can vouch for me when I say I’m not a techie person. I was thinking of buying a Mac, but after reading your post, I’m going to order the Folio keyboard and give it a go on the iPad.

    And thanks for the links! I had no idea there were so many writerly apps out there. The Index Card app is what I’ve been looking for. Right now, I’m sticking Post-Its on my kitchen cabinet doors to plot.

    Terrific post. Thank you for joining us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 27, 2013, 7:08 pm
    • Thanks Jennifer!

      I don’t want to be like, the Mac pusher or something, but after a lifetime as a die hard PC user, I bought my first Mac laptop about a year ago. I still have the luggable Dell Windows machine that I use for my Microsoft oriented development work, but for writing I’ve switched to the Mac.

      I bought one of their 11″ Airs, the smallest laptop they make, and I
      L O V E
      it for my writing work. It isn’t as portable as the iPad but it’s close. Next time you’re someplace that has an Apple store go check one out. The one I have is:

      And if you get it, you totally have to check out the coolest cover in the world for it:


      Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 7:29 pm
      • Thanks, Pat.

        I looked at the Mac Air a couple months ago. I’m using the back-up laptop right now, and the thought of buying another one with Windows 8 makes me crazy. I like that the iPad and Mac Air are lightweight because shlepping a laptop on the road is a PIA. So perhaps it’s time to make the change!

        Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 27, 2013, 7:45 pm
        • The only Microsoft concession I still make is Office. After I bought the Air I tried the Apple Pages word processor but ending up missed Word. I use the stock Apple Safari browser and mail clients, they are fine. But I bought Office for Mac so I could deal with the Word and PowerPoint documents I need for work. Then I bought Scrivener for my writing.

          On a side note, I started using the Safari browser for Windows and with the iCloud I can get the bookmarks to synchronize across my iPad, Mac Desktop version, and PC versions. Sweet. (Personally I think Chrome is a better browser, but the differences are minor enough that I just go with Safari).

          Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 8:07 pm
  8. Hmmm. A very timely post! Maybe this is a sign…my computer has been acting up lately, and my husband thinks I need to get a new one. I was resisting, but an iPad might be fun!

    I’ve been hearing great things about Scrivener since it first came out. I’m a PC user – I seem to remember hearing that it was designed for Apple. Is it available for both now?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 27, 2013, 7:23 pm
    • Scrivener for Mac offers several features currently missing from the Windows version, but the two are close. I’d say Windows is at 80% functionality.

      Scrivener currently does not have an iPad version.

      As I said a moment ago in the response to Jennifer, I use my iPad when I’m out and about and it’s great for that. And it’s great for planning. But at some point I move all my work into Scrivener on my Mac laptop (see above post for details). The iPad and Air (with a little help from iCloud and Dropbox) make a great writing team.

      Posted by Pat Haggerty | March 27, 2013, 7:36 pm
  9. My son and daughter and husband all have iPads, but I’m not comfortable with Apple. I like iPads when we’re communicating with my daughter on FaceTime, though!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 27, 2013, 7:42 pm
  10. Hey Pat,
    Excellent article. I have the origami case and blue tooth keyboard. I love the way you can fold the case and prop your ipad up and make it into a miniature laptop. I’ll have to try the iAwrite. I have the index card and love it.
    Thanks so much for all this information.
    Write on,
    Teresa R.

    Posted by Teresa Reasor | March 28, 2013, 3:44 am

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