Saturday, August 30, 2014

Writing with an iPod, Part II

Scott D. Parker

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my new iPod Touch and the new apps that I now could use to help me craft ideas for my stories. I focused on the Index Card app for brainstorming ideas and scenes for stories. It’s a great app and I still use it.

Then I figured out something even more fundamental for writing: actual composing on the iPod. Yes, really.

So, when I’m here at my Mac, I use Scrivener to write fiction. I love this program for its simplicity, ease of use, and its programmability. But there is no iOS version of it. Yes, I always moved a copy of the updated file to Dropbox every time I close a writing session, but there’s no good way to write on *that* file on the fly. It’s only a copy.

What to do?

Well, there is a program and is available on the fly: Google Docs. A little over two weeks ago, it finally dawned on me what I can do: use Google Docs to always have a working copy of the book with me. Scrivener is still the primary, but Google Docs is the wonderful on-the-go solution. Here’s my current, efficient writing schedule for my work week.

I use Scrivener for my 5am writing session. When I am done, I compile the file and copy it to Dropbox. I also copy the current scene/chapter into a Google Docs file. It has *all* the scenes up to that point. There’s a 10,000-word-count limit to Google Docs and my scenes average just under 1,000 words so I have a series of Google Docs files of my book out there. There are three parts now. I’m on Part III.

Here’s where the magic happens. On my iPod Touch, I now carry a working copy of my book in Google Docs. I take a five-minute break every hour at the day job. In that break time, I walk the atrium, basically I do laps, usually around five or so. As soon as I start walking, I have the iPod in my hands, the current Google Docs file open to where I left off that morning. I walk and type *on the iPod* for five minutes. True, I can only get a hundred words or so in five minutes, but I take *seven* breaks per day. That’s about 600-700 new words in little five-minute snippets. The hardest part is when the five minutes are up and I have to return to work.

Let’s do the math. I can get around 600-800 words in the 5 o’clock hour. Then, in my breaks, I can get another 600-700 words written in the working file. That’s over a thousand words per day, which is a personal goal for me. But just under half of that count is written on a little bitty iPod screen with my thumbs.

To close out the day, I copy the material I wrote in Google Docs back into Scrivener and save that updated file. Boom. I’ve just moved the needle forward and moved that much closer to The End. As a bonus, I have my book saved in three places: the Mac (Scrivener), Dropbox (word file of Scrivener export), and Google Docs.

I get some funny looks from colleagues who can’t believe I’m writing on the iPod, but I am. I love this little thing. It’s making my writing days so much more productive.

Does anyone else do this kind of thing? What are the ways y’all write on the fly?


Rick Ollerman said...

I use a notebook and a pen and periodically type the words into a word processor. This gives me the opportunity to write anywhere and also to be able to do an edit when I do the transcription. I don't have to worry about battery life, just running out of ink.

Anonymous said...

I'm still in awe from your first post on writing on the ipod~
my way of writing on the fly is carrying around a stack of index cards held together with a rubber band. when I get a scene idea or any idea, really, I jot it down on a notecard. It's not actually "writing" but when I sit down to write, it's already all there in my head, jogged by the notes on the card ... kristi b.