Writing on the Go
Life is busy. It’s a fact that everyone knows. Sometimes I wonder how we, as a society, ever decided to trade a sharp #2 pencil, a stack of college ruled notebook paper, and an oversized pink eraser for laptop computers, the click of a mouse, and the power or your favorite word processor. Wasn’t technology supposed to help free our time? Wasn’t it supposed to make life easier? If you’re cracking a smile with me right now, then you’re old enough to know where I’m coming from.
Unfortunately, as technology advances, we must also evolve to keep up with it. As a writer dealing with a growing family that needed my attention and a job that did the same—it was becoming difficult to find time to write. I wake at seven o’clock to make it to work by eight a.m. I struggle through the work day because my head is filled with story ideas, characters, plots, and dialogue that are not being written.
Finally, the work-day is over, but now I get a text from the wife asking me to pick up a couple of items from the store. I hear a dinging inside the car and look at the dashboard to see that I need gas too. I finally arrive home, unload the groceries (having picked up twice as many items as the wife originally asked for), and help prepare dinner. I catch up with the family about their day. By the time I change into my favorite writing shirt and settle in behind the keyboard to write, it’s after nine o’clock at night. My brain is tired. I’m tired. I stare at the blank page on the screen and nothing comes. The mainline vein of creativity between my brain and the computer is now clogged—not a trickle of prose spills through.
If you are a writer like me, and do not have the luxury (yet) of writing full time, you might recognize this scenario as a carbon copy of your own life. So how do I overcome this pinch on my time to write? I turned to the mobile app.
I do not want this to sound like an advertisement for one mobile writing application over another, but you, as a writer, have to decide which one you prefer. I’ve tried several over the last couple of years. Most phones have their own built-in Notes app and this is fine to use to jot a quick thought or two. But I found it limiting for what I wanted. I want to write—and I want to be able to write whenever and wherever I am.
After trying a couple of other downloadable apps (some free, others costing less than $5), I settled on Evernote. As I mentioned, I don’t want to sound like an advertisement—but I absolutely love this app. I don’t always have a pen and paper with me when I have a sudden spark or idea for a story, but like most individuals, I do have my phone—and with Evernote, I write in places that I never thought I would before. Waiting on my food at lunch—I spend the time writing; waiting at the doctor’s office—I’m writing on my phone; standing in a long checkout line at the grocery store—yes, I’m writing there too (just make sure you keep one eye on the line in front of you or you might upset the patrons in line behind you).
Another added bonus to being able to write anywhere using your favorite mobile app is that most of them are downloadable across multiple platforms. Again, using Evernote as an example, I not only have it on my phone, I also have it downloaded on my laptop and my nook tablet. No matter which devise I decide to use to continue writing, each version automatically updates the content entered on the other devises. On my laptop, it’s a simple process to open a note, copy, and paste the contents into a Word document.
To date, I’ve been using Evernote for about six months. I use it everywhere I find time to write. After a few weeks of becoming familiar with its features and functions, I presented myself with a challenge: I will write a full-length novel. You’ll be surprised to know how much you can write on your phone in the course of a week. You’d be even more surprised after a month. I started this novel on June 1, 2014 and five months later, I have written 12,000 words—nine chapters and 42 double-spaced pages. That’s pretty good considering I’m only using my phone and two thumbs.
Busy and tired at the end of the day? Twenty years ago, I could have sympathized that there was little time to write—but now, thanks to technology and note-taking apps like Evernote, Once, DraftPad, and Werdsmith, you can write anywhere, anytime. Now no more excuses, get to it.