Writer on the Go, Part 1
As a writer with a full-time job, time is a precious commodity. Add to that a long commute, large family, and everything else in an average, crazy lifestyle, and carving out even a few minutes to write is a near impossibility. I’ve read of writers that require X number of hours of quiet, uninterrupted writing time to be productive. For me, this never happens.
I thought I would share a few things that help me knock out daily word counts despite all of the distraction. I’ve used these successfully to help me reach that 50,000 word mark for NaNiWriMo. Let’s begin with some tools I’ve found to be useful for the mobile writer. With the following items you can be ready to write anywhere and at any time.
- Smart Phone- I draft about 50% of all my works on a smart phone. I prefer the iPhone, but a good writing app is more important than the right brand of phone. The beauty of the smart phone is that it is always with you. Most smart phones rival the computing power of the 90s and with cloud technology, you can write anywhere, sync it to the cloud and then, be off to your next meeting, appointment, or activity. The strength of the smart phone is that you can pull it out when you have five minutes (keep in mind that several five minutes can add up). I do find that having a Bluetooth keyboard is helpful for typing out drafts, but the touch screen keyboard is descent if you’re looking to revise. The only other thing you need to write on your phone is a good writing app, which I will discuss in a future post. Lastly, I would put tablets into this category, however the problem with the tablet is they can only sync when Wi-Fi is available.
- Blue Tooth Keyboard- For drafting longer works, the keyboard is a must. The small digital keys on the phone are only good for short spurts. I started using a folding keyboard, but after getting frustrated with the odd key spacing, I opted for a non-foldable kind. I prefer the Amazon Basics Keyboard. The keyboard is small enough to fit into a backpack, bag, or purse. Or you can just carry it. Plus the keys are spaced nicely for typing. A couple of bonuses about this keyboard; it has a great battery life, and it can take some abuse.
- Laptop- The rest of my writing is done on a laptop or desktop computer. I prefer the laptop and think it’s the perfect tool for a writer on the go. You have all the computing power you need to create that massive tome you’ve been dreaming up in your head. Many of today’s laptops are inexpensive, and with a good backpack or bag, can be lugged anywhere. The strength of the laptop over the smart phone and tablet is formatting. A word processing program is a must for polishing that manuscript. There are a lot of options for laptops if you’re like me and hate heaving a >5 lb. laptop around. (I did this at a conference once and after my shoulders went numb by mid-day, I left it at home). If you want a lighter weight model, then look at ultrabooks.
- Headphones- I know this may seem like a strange item to place under tools, but unless you have trained your ears to ignore all the distracting sounds that occur in public places, you will need a way to tune them out. I always use music when I write and have trained my mind to find the muse by listening to certain playlists. I prefer instrumentals, unless I need a certain mood for a scene.
- Last and certainly not least, a pen and notebook are fine options in a pinch. This is my go to for when I need to plot, brain map scenes, or just toss out some random ideas that come to mind. You can also use a note taking app on your phone, but sometimes it’s nice to diagram things to get your bearings on a scene. I prefer Moleskine notebooks, but almost any cheap notebook will do.
That covers my list of favorite tools. Next time I’ll highlight the software and apps I use to keep all those short writing segments organized.