How Smartphones and Tablets Can Help You Write More

If you’ve got a tablet or smartphone, you’re in business. Write on the go with the latest generation of apps.
Author:
Publish date:

If you’ve got a tablet or smartphone, you’re in business. Write on the go with the latest generation of apps.

800px-Group_of_smartphones

You’re on the bus. Or lunching in the park. Or flying to a writing conference. And suddenly, an idea—perhaps the opening of a chapter?—hits you. What do you do?

As a pocket-sized alternative to carrying around your notebook or firing up the laptop, some of the latest writing applications for mobile devices take away the hassle of writing and researching on the go. They’re designed for smartphones and tablet computers like the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which runs on the Android operating system (as do scores of smartphones), and many of these apps cost less than $15 or have a price tag of $0. Here are six solid options, and the results of a WD-approved test drive of each.

FOR ANY AND ALL WRITERS: Pages (iPad)

BEST FEATURES: This word processor features font sizing, page formatting, templates (newsletters, etc.), photo importing, a “find and replace” option—all the features you’re accustomed to using on your works-in-progress. Need to send your writing to an editor or critiquer? Works can be exported as a PDF, Microsoft Word document or e-doc on iwork.com.

COULD BE BETTER: Rich Text Format (RTF) and Open Document Format (ODF) are not among the file formats supported, so the limited export options might hamstring those who don’t have Pages, Word or PDF readers.

FOR THE OLD-SCHOOL SCRIBE: DroidRoom (Android)

BEST FEATURES: Lacking unnecessary bells and whistles, this writing app harks back to the antiquated green text on computer terminals, allowing you to just write and save your text files on a mobile device’s memory card. Simple—that’s the keyword here.

COULD BE BETTER: Apps like Pages automatically scroll down when you’re writing a new paragraph. DroidRoom does not, which becomes an issue when the text on the screen disappears behind the virtual keyboard. Resizing the font helps.

FOR THE REPORTER: Notes Plus (iPad)

BEST FEATURES: This iPad app has an audio recording option and recognizes notes handwritten with a touch screen–friendly pen or your finger. Notes Plus also has a “palm pad,” an area where you can rest your hand and write naturally without your iPad mistaking your palm for your pen.

COULD BE BETTER: Would you rather type? You can create text boxes anywhere on the screen; however, resizing or moving them isn’t a seamless task. Stick with handwriting.

FOR THE FIELD RESEARCHER: Evernote (Android, iPad/iPhone)

BEST FEATURES: A treat for travel journalists, music critics and the like, Evernote is best suited for those whose research goes beyond mere note taking. Its features include video capturing and photo attaching and labeling, which makes for better organization of your “notebooks” stored in the app’s online database.

COULD BE BETTER: A photo might first look oversized and fuzzy because the app doesn’t downsize it for a note. E-mailing the image gives it a better appearance, though, as does using large-screen devices.

FOR THE ORDERLY AUTHOR: Manuscript (iPad/iPhone)

BEST FEATURES: This author-friendly app includes index card, chapter, synopsis and pitch options, allowing a writer to organize all of her manuscript’s supporting documents in one portable place. The content can also be exported to a website.

COULD BE BETTER: The app lacks some page formatting options (e.g., margins, font sizes), so it resembles a prewriting, idea-organizing product rather than a word processor.

FOR THE VISUAL WRITER: Thinking Space (Android)

BEST FEATURES: Reviewing a plot or story arc as a visual element can be refreshing, and Thinking Space allows you to do just that. You can connect “nodes”—text notes, really—to each other and make sub-nodes, great for developing subplots. When your story map is complete, you can export it as a photo, easily readable on a desktop computer.

COULD BE BETTER: Text formatting is a bit strange, requiring you to draw symbols in order to make changes. For example, drawing a rainbow will alter the text color. So you’ll need to learn some new shortcuts to really put the app to use.

This article was written by Rich Shivener.


Not sure if your story structure is strong enough to woo an agent? Consider:
Story Structure Architect

Story-Structure-Architect-10961

Become a WD VIP and Save 10%:
Get a 1-year pass to WritersMarket.com, a 1-year subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine and 10% off all WritersDigestShop.com orders! Click here to join.


Also check out these items from the Writer’s Digest’s collection:
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Beginnings, Middles & Ends

Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Scene & Structure

Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Conflict, Action & Suspense
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Description
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint

Writer’s Digest No More Rejections
Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner
Writer’s Digest How to Land a Literary Agent (On-Demand Webinar)

Writer’s Digest Magazine One-Year Subscription
Writer’s Digest 10 Years of Writer’s Digest on CD: 2000-2009

wow no thank you

Nuggets of Humor

Bestselling humor author Samantha Irby talks about her writing process and finding funny topics for essays.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

Announcing the 14th annual April Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides. Here are the guidelines for this fun annual poeming challenge that starts on April 1.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Call for Submissions, Free Downloads, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce a call for submissions to the WD Self-Published Book Awards, free resources for writers, and more!

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 28

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write a story using only dialogue.

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Bestselling author Nicole Galland explains what it was like to dive into writing a series and how speculative fiction allows her to explore her interests.

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

Nonfiction author Liz Heinecke gives her top 6 tips for crafting a nonfiction book that will really capture your subject.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 27

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that makes you laugh.

Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.