Saturday, August 9, 2014

Writing with an iPod

By
Scott D. Parker

Well my five year old iPod touch finally died. It was strange death too because it's still basically works except for the bottom part of the screen near the dock. That area just stopped accepting any touches. I replaced it this week with a fifth-generation iPod touch. Boy I didn't know what I was missing. I'm always on the lookout for new ways to improve my writing efficiency and I think the new iPod touch might be that tool. This counts for the iPhone as well, but I'm not sure about the Android devices since I don't have any.

Took me about four days to finally realize the little microphone icon means I can dictate to the iPod. I am a big fan of the DragonDictate program on the Macintosh, I love speech to text technology. It doesn't always get everything right, like the previous sentence didn't put the dashes in between speech to text, but it gets a whole bunch of things right. The fact that there is not currently a full version of a dragon app that you can use on an iPod  means that this dictation to the iPod will stand in its place. I am correcting a few things along the way, but not very many at all.

Now that I have a device that runs iOS 7, I have a whole lot more apps available to me. One of the neatest ones I have found so far is called Index Cards for the iPhone. As a writer who still uses real index cards to plan and work out plot structures, having an app like this on the iPod is going to make my brainstorming sessions during the workday much more efficient. Nice feature of the dictating part of the iPod is that I can dictate and then type to fix an error and then dictate again, something the Dragon program on my Macintosh does not do well.

The app mimics you sitting at your desk with a stack of index cards, pens, and highlighters in front of you. After you start a project, you get this screen:


You enter your scene number on top. Notice the dictation software didn't put in the numerals. Maybe I have to say "number 1". The next space is where you can write what happens in the scene. At the bottom, where it reads “Long Text,” you can actually write more text than would fit on an index card. Lastly, you can assign colored labels to each card. You’ll end up with something like this:


You flip the iPod on it’s side, and you get a traditional index card look:


All of this is way cool. I’ve used it to work through my current book during my walking breaks at the day job. I can sync to Dropbox for a backup and, the thing that sold me on this app versus others, it syncs with Scrivener.

I know I’m just scratching the surface of what this app can do for me, but I’m super excited.

What mobile, on-the-go apps do y’all use for writing, brainstorming, or other writerly things?

1 comment:

erikarneson said...

Scott, thanks for the recommendation. I downloaded it and have started playing with it. I'm wondering if you've used it enough to decide how it's most effective to use each index card. For example, I'm using it to build an idea for a comic book / graphic novel. Would you use each card to describe an entire scene, which might wind up being several pages in the final book? Or would you break it down into smaller segments somehow? Thanks again.