Writing on the Go

I made a similar post about this subject about a year ago. I wanted to make an update to show where I am now. As I’m not yet writing full time, life still dictates the need to write on the go, whenever I find the time. Here are the tools at my disposal:

I have switched from using an iPod Touch to a Motorola Droid with Verizon. In particular, I am a fan of this phone for the slide out keyboard. This comes in handy for three reasons. 1) the on-screen touch keyboard isn’t taking up space. In landscape mode, I have much more screen available. 2) Anectdotally, I feel like I type much faster due to the texture of the actual keyboard. 3) I don’t have the screen accidentally flip to portrait mode because I tilted it slightly. My wife doesn’t use the slide out keyboard and I suspect when we are up to replace the phones, we will be getting different phones :)

I still love Dropbox. This of course has simplified the process greatly. I currently sync through three devices.

I still have QuickOffice for Android, but I don’t use it as much as I used to. Unlike the iPod version, the Android version does not let you edit text files. You can read them, just no editing. I keep it around for editing documents if need be.

I’ve tried a variety of free text editors from the Android market. My favorite by far is Jota Text Editor. It works seemlessly with Dropbox. In particular, it is designed for use with long text files, which is usually the case for writers. The developer is often providing updates and new features to the app.

My home computer is still using a combination of WriteMonkey (for text) or OpenOffice (for docs).

Whether I am at the park or waiting at McDonalds for a birthday party to be over, these tools let me write on the go.

Keep writing.

Bringing it all together

Like most of us, I’m not writing full time. I write when I have time, when I can squeeze it in. Most days I get some writing in on my lunch at werk. Some days it is while I’m waiting in the parking lot for my wife. Some days it is on the iPod Touch while at home because I may need to set it down quickly to help one of our children.

The point here is that I’m not always at my main computer. This can of course cause a lot of problems. Some of the folders on my computer are a real mess with ver 1, 2, and 3 files of stories I typed up at different times. I have multiple different notebooks. That can make it very tough to bring things together into one coherent piece of work.

Chuck at Terrible Minds turned me on to DropBox. They provide 2 gigs of space for free (you can pay for additional space) and it will automatically upload to their servers anything in your DropBox folder. This also solved the problem of making sure that my files are backed up for the inevitable computer crash.

DropBox also has an iPod app that will let you view the files that are on their servers but not edit them.

I had been using a nice free app on my iPod Touch called WritePad. It was simple and allowed me to email myself the files. And hey, it was free. Can’t knock that at all. Emailing yourself the files though can cause all kinds of formatting issues when you copy and paste that into the document you are using. I wanted something with a little more power behind it.

After some research, I came across QuickOffice. At $10 you can get QuickOffice Mobile Connect which allows you to connect directly with DropBox (and a few other similar services) to view AND edit the files that are stored on DropBox. If you’re working offline without a WiFi connection, QuickOffice also allows you to copy your files to your iPod and then copy them back later once you’re connected again.

Now I am happy to say I am editing the same file regardless of where I happen to be writing. It has really saved me a lot of time and headache and really simplified writing anywhere and everywhere. If you’re in a similar position, I highly recommend DropBox and QuickOffice.