Writing On the Go

by LimebirdRaven

What tools do you use for your writing?  When you are out and about, do you carry a pen and notebook?  Are there other tools you find useful?

Personally, I’m still a notebook kinda gal, but I also have a DVR (Digital Voice Recorder) that can integrate with Dragon Naturally Speaking (If I can ever afford to get the software LOL).

I have Google Docs, which I can access from my phone and I ALWAYS back up my works there.  If you have a gmail account, you have Google Docs, you just need to activate it.  You can get the app in the Android Market, if you have a Droid.

I also found a Droid/iPhone/iPad app called My Writing Spot, which integrates with http://www.mywritingspot.com/.  Again, this would require data, but it’s an excellent way of keeping your work in the cloud, just like Google Docs.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard great things about it.

My android phone also has the FlexT9 keyboard, which uses Dragon Naturally Speaking for the voice input.  This works far better than most voice to text programs.  I really like it, but it does require data to transcribe.

There are also many apps that are just your basic office tools, with .doc formatting, so you can use those and then email the works to yourself (automatic backup if you email from one account to a different account, you have two backups, or if you don’t have data, put it on your SD card and move it to your computer when you get home).

I truly don’t recommend this, but for lack of anything else, one lady who participated in this most recent NaNoWriMo wrote her entire book on her Kindle Keyboard.  Wow that really must have been a pain…but I guess you get used to it, and if you’re desperate, it is another tool you can use.

If you have an iPad, www.writeordie.com now has an iPad app.  It’s available in the App Store for $9.99.  If you’re not familiar with this app, it is a doozy.  Write or Die helps you stay focused on  your writing by deleting words if you don’t make your time goal…therefore you are forced to write something or lose what you’ve written.  It should be interesting to see how this works on the iPad.

If you don’t have a droid or iPhone/iPad, most phones, no matter how old or plain, have a voice recording app, so you can record an idea and then transcribe it later, for really quick notes.

I’m sure there are many other tools out there, please share what you use!

55 Responses to “Writing On the Go”

  1. I use the notepad on my iphone, I like the yellow legal pad look. And even though I have at least two notebooks with me everywhere, I end up with really good snippets on napkins and envelopes!

    • LKD…invariably the one time I forget my notebook is the one time I have an idea…then I forget all those wonderful tools on the phone and do the same darn thing…ROFL!

  2. Hi Raven,

    Fabulous Limebird debut, full of great useful information! Although I would love to have these fancy gadgets, I just don’t have the money! I am definitely a notepad and pen kind of girl. Like Lorna, I will sometimes write snippets on my phones notepad, but if I have a lot to write down, I will use my notepad.

    I did used to have a voice recorder, when I was working in News Journalism, as I wasn’t competent in short hand, which I found really useful. So, I can see how that would also apply to fiction writing! However, I did used to cringe hearing my voice back at the end of it! Maybe I’ll have to dig that out… where ever it may be!

    Thanks again for all this great info Raven! 🙂

    • So I’m not the only one who cringes at the sound of her voice?? LOL As long as nobody else hears it I’m okay. Sounds like you have a great tool that might save you time, if you can find it.

  3. I’m pretty limited on funds as well, and when I get to splurge it’s usually on my kids instead of my writing! :p I’m also a creature of habit and it is difficult for me to change the way I’ve been doing things. I mean heck, when I had to transition from a typewriter to a computer? Egad!

    Anyway, I work on a laptop primarily. I will bring it with me in the car whenever I know I’m going to have 15+ minutes of downtime. If I need to write something down and I don’t have my laptop, my writer’s notebook is the way to go. But the pain with that is I have to transfer everything from the notebook to my laptop.

    I have toyed with the idea of mixing it up (because I can get crazy sometimes) and trying something new. I like the sound of Dragon Naturally Speaking…maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

    Thanks for the helpful info!

    • Wow! Great responses! I should note that this post was inspired by LimebirdKaiser’s post on Writing Tools.

      • LimebirdKate, If you’re going to use Dragon Naturally Speaking and you have the ability, in order to really be able to use that on the fly, it’s best to get a digital voice recorder that integrates with it. Then when you get home, all you have to do is plug in your DVR and let Dragon do the transcribing! I found out last night that while the current version (v11) of Dragon is $60+ depending on where you get it, the previous version (v10) is between $25 and $40, depending on where you find it. I might just have to invest in the older version just to start. I’d really love that flexibility, and since I think faster than I write or type (and I type 80 wpm when I’m not typing copy), I think the DVR and Dragon would be the perfect combination!

        PS…Yes, I duplicated some information in LimebirdKaiser’s post simply because it works for being on the go as well as in your normal writing at home on the computer.

  4. You have lots of helpful information in this post Raven. It will be useful to those who can take advantage.

    I’m retired and spend most of my time at home. As a fiction writer, my mind is the greatest tool in the toolbox. Should I notice something when I’m out and about I jot it down when I get home.

    You’re off to a good start and I hope that 2012 brings you much joy and success.

    Blessings – Maxi

    • Haha Maxi, you are better than I. I can’t remember anything for five minutes….I have to have something nearby to save it or I lose it.

  5. I have an ancient mini-tape recorder (yes, *tape* recorder) LOL In fact, I’ll be taking that on the road with me today. It’s great for road trips when you’re alone and have ideas flooding your head. My laptop usually travels everywhere with me but, barring that, I’ve always got a pen and a notebook handy. And, yes, I’ve been known to use envelopes, a stream of post-it notes, and the occasional napkin to quicly capture a snippet I don’t want to lose.

    I find my phone just two small to utilize unless it’s a quick note.

    • Tape recorders work well! I only upgraded mine because my tape recorder got lost in a move and the paper route required I have something fast. I decided since they showed me how to do my route on a DVR, that’s what I’d get. I love it!!

      Well that and … I wanted to use it on my ghost hunting trips hehe.

      I’ll be honest, while I love having my phone as a tool, I only use it in emergencies.

  6. I use:

    Fountain pen.

    Paper never crashes and it never runs out of battery just when you need it most.

  7. on the go, it’s usually the iPad for me, but really just for notes or outline work. I do my writing at home (though it’s on a netbook, so I could in theory do that on the go too)

  8. I write on my laptop. I keep a bunch of little notepads around the house, the truck, my purse and all over the house.

    • Neeks, I’d be so lost! I’d never find anything I wrote! LOL

      Of course..sometimes I still lose whatever notebook I wrote down that amazing dream in…

  9. I use SimpleNote on my iPhone and a mini Bluetooth keyboard. I always have my phone with me anyway and I can keep the keyboard in my glove compartment or my lunch bag.

    Some people might not like typing on the tiny screen of a phone. For me, I find that I write faster when I don’t actually look at what I’m typing, so the small screen is really a benefit. This probably only works for pumping out high word count rough drafts word-vomit style. I wouldn’t want to try any serious editing on my phone.

    • QXFace, I actually intend to get a Bluetooth keyboard with my tablet next month for school and use it for the writing as well….assuming I still have enough financial aid left over with which to do so. I’d probably do better with that than with the voice….I’m more of a manual person, though I do want to try the voice….

      My DVR will probably be used mostly for ghost hunting hehe

  10. I’m all about a pen and notebook on the go. I can be much faster. I also use my phone in a pinch.

    @Exiled Star …. isn’t a fountain pen just the most exquisite way to write! I love the feel and the flow of it and watching the ink take root in the paper!

    • I’ve never even held a fountain pen….I’ll have to try that. I have started keeping a notebook in the pouch on the back of my seat in the car. It’s the perfect spot to keep a notebook in case I need one on the fly. Pen is sticking in the spiral, just to be sure I don’t lose it.

  11. Windows Vista and Win 7 have another tool that I have heard is useful. My computer is in a kitchen with a lot of reverb accoustics so it doesn’t work well for me, but I know a few people who swear by it. There is a voice-to-text program included with Windows Vista and beyond that is supposed to be fairly decent. I tried it in my living room and it seemed to work alright during the tutorial, but once I moved my computer it was useless to me.

    • For the win!! Love it so much! That’s always where I back up my stuff, and I can access it from my phone when I need to too!

  12. Holding a fountain pen really isn’t that hard. It won’t write smoothly unless it’s at the right angle, so you just turn it till it writes smoothly. I gave up pencil for fountain pen back in junior high school. I was sick of pencil and hated rollerball pens. I read books in the library about handwriting analysis. Apparently handwriting samples can be best interpreted if written with a fountain pen. So that’s what decided me.

    Gel pens aren’t bad either.

    If I must resort to technology, I like the Atlantis word processor, because it autosaves your drafts and you’ll get everything back even if the program crashes, and because it makes old-timey manual typewriter noises complete with the bell that rings at the end of every line. Clackety clackety clack clack clack DING!

    • Exiled Star, that sounds like a really interesting program. I tried WriteWay and wasn’t impressed except for that it automatically formats your documents for different needs (such as manuscript format, or amazon/smashwords submission formats), but I didn’t feel that was worth the investment. I started to try Scrivener, but I didn’t have time before my trial ran out (that was a crazy month for me). The next on my list to try was Liquid Story Binder, which my friend loves. Now I’m adding Atlantis to the list! Thanks!!

  13. Loved this post. I have been using the droid app for WordPress. Not that hot yet because the display is not all that. But then again, they seem to have just started. It does give me the option of getting some writing done when the inspiration hits and I can edit and add pics and vids if I need to when I get home. Good article Lime

    • Have you updated recently? I had my app through the Amazon App Store, but due to some strange malfunction (common with Galaxy phones), I’m not really able to use any applications from there effectively anymore, so I downloaded as many as I could through the Market. I discovered that several of the apps were more up to date in the Market and had more features. I definitely like the WP App a lot more now!

  14. I use a good old fashioned notebook and pen – that way, nothing can get deleted unless I tear the pages out and crumple them up! LOL But that’s just for my ideas and notes when I’m out; for the actual writing I use my laptop, which also has Dragon when I need to use it. Then I back up my work on a flash drive and CD – no way am I going to take chances! 😉

    • Those are great! Instead of flash and CD, I will use Google Docs for backup, and/or email from my Yahoo to my Gmail, making sure to keep a copy in both places. That way I don’t have to worry about losing the drive or disk and if one email dies for whatever reason, I still have the other copy.

  15. LimebirdRaven,

    You can check out Atlantis here: http://www.atlantiswordprocessor.com/en/

    There’s a free 30-day trial.

    Atlantis beats Word hands down. The only thing it can’t do is convert to a pdf with clickable links, for some dumb reason. But everything else it does is great.

  16. Forgot to add, Atlantis only costs $35 to register after the 30-day trial. You can install it on a mobile device too.

  17. Good old pen and notebook(s) when out and about, Storyist on my Mac at home.

  18. Oh gosh I keep snippits of stuff everywhere. I’m always typing things into my phone notepad, I keep a notebook by my bed so I can jot things down when I’m laying in bed thinking of things too.

    • That reminds me, I need to replace my notebook in the bedroom. I have forgotten a few great dreams lately because I needed a notebook quickly for something else and used that one. Sometimes those are the best ideas!

  19. Nice post, Raven! I’ve got a Droid, so thanks for those tips. I try to keep a small notebook in my purse, but sometimes other necessary items (kids’ juice boxes, etc) force it out! Then I resort to whatever flat writing surface I can find at the time the muse hits – restaurant napkin, usually!

    I cannot imagine writing an entire NaNo on my Kindle – I would tear hair!

    • Thanks so much, jesstopper. You never know when that muse might go into hyper drive. Good to have something handy at all times. I don’t have many occasions when my phone isn’t close by.

      re: NaNo on Kindle. Right? IDK how she managed that one.

  20. Reblogged this on Insanity Reigns Supreme and commented:
    YAY! I’m a new Limebird Writer! Yep, they have accepted me! I am very privileged to be a new member of the team!

  21. When I go to the park or tea shop or coffeehouse to read, I always have packed in my bag a notebook and pen. I never know when inspiration will hit, and some of my best writing has come from unexpected moments in those places – so I never leave home without them!

    • Definitely! I have regretted not having mine a few times, and (at the time) didn’t think about using my phone. Now I have back up always.

  22. Notepad and pen, carried everywhere with me. Then copy and save on my laptop.

    That’s all I use so far. I feel a bit inadequate now 😦


    • Oh Jim, not at all. Those methods are tried and true and preferred by many. I know it’s still what I default to, just because it’s more obvious. I can’t even say it’s habit, as the whole writing thing is new for me, I just don’t think about using my phone sometimes, but more than that, I think the actual handwriting helps my muse come forth. Does that sound odd?

      • It seems freer when its written by hand. Only when I type and print does it become fixed for me. Then I scribble any changes and ideas all over the printed sheet, they become the new sounding board. Then back to typing and printing. The handwritten stuff helps me think about what I am putting down. Seeing it printed shows up any inadequacies. That seems to work for me.

        But the thought of not having a notebook is quite scary, I draw and sketch when I am walking. Make notes about what’s going on all the time.


      • Jim…if I tried to write or doodle while walking, I’d be a blotch on the sidewalk!

      • 🙂

        Finding places to write is easy in the hills, just pull up a patch of grass. In town you get funny looks when you suddenly stop and pull out a notebook to scribble. Even in a coffee shop you will be treated with suspicion. But it is important to be able to collect the ideas whenever you need to, and however you find that works.


      • redjim99 I wish I were referring only to the environment, but no…I’m just a klutz! LOL I’m really impressed you can do that all while walking. It would sure help me a lot if I could.

  23. I ALWAYS have my BlackBerry with me so write using Docs To Go and then email to myself. As my phone is by the bed I have been known to wake up, write something and email it, then back to sleep.

    On backup, I have ALL my writing in a Dropbox file so I can access anything any time (after a scare last year when my computer died and I hadn’t backed up for weeks! I had to pay for a data recovery programme and get my stuff that way…)

    • I haven’t tried DropBox yet, but my Docs To Go automatically syncs w/ my google docs acct, so all my work is in the Cloud! 🙂


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