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….”
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:
- No human can touch type for any length of time on a keyboard without key edges.
- Notes is an ok app, but it wasn’t designed for story planning.
- 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.
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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