As a writer, my first medium of choice has always been pen and paper, especially for brainstorming. I love an especially inky pen and some kind of textured, thick paper that makes a faint scratching sound when I write. My next medium of choice is my MacBook Pro, wide and backlit and beautiful.
Unfortunately, my computer cord bit the dust about a week ago, and it will be at least another week before I can make it down to the Apple store in Austin to replace it. So, my blog post for today takes on organic form as I must find an alternative to pen and paper to deliver my media to the world wide web. Brace yourselves for typos and weird formatting– this blog post is all about, and all developed from, the iPhone.
I wanted to take a step back and look at apps and tools on smartphones that enable writers to do what they do best. Despite the growing tablet market, there is something about being able to hold your writing device in the palm of your hand that is alluring. The more portable, the better; it’s like the proverbial notepad by the side of a bed, on standby to record ideas at 3 a.m. or on the subway or on a picnic.
Phase 1: Inspiration
They say that to write well, you must read, read, read. Poetry magazine lovers, here’s no better media for this than the Poetry Foundation app. This app holds an archive of every poem its literary magazine Poetry has published since 1912, including T.S. Eliot’”s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Find poems by and bios of every major poet and some unknown ones, and try out the Foundation’s topical poetry spinner if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Aside from typical e-reader apps such as iBooks, one beautiful app for only $0.99 is 3D Classic Literature, a beautiful collection of classics in digital elegance.
Phase 2: Brainstorming
Shake for a writing prompt? Who knows what crazy word mashups could ensue (but let’s save that for another post). Check out the Writing Prompts app for some quirky ideas. If poetry or songwriting is your capacity, try RhymeNow Free Edition when you’re stuck on a line. The Dictionary.com app delivers the same practical reference as its namesake website, also with a complete thesaurus and no internet connection required.
Phase 3: Writing and Editing
Alas, the iPhone keyboard and screen are certainly not ideal for long-form writing. However, a good app and a little patience can go a long way. If it’s a novel or short story you’re writing, A Novel Idea is an interesting free app to test out. With it, you can map out your setting, theme, characters, and plot, scene by scene. iTalk Recorder can help the spoken word poet or traditional writer on a roadtrip record audio notes. Evernote is a great (also free) resource for writing, storing, and editing pieces of text. You can also attach an audio file, image, and tag a location with your writing, plus sync the iPhone account with your online account and Facebook and Twitter. If you are willing to fork out $4.99 for an app, Poet’s Pad makes a smooth one-stop-shop writing/brainstorming/editing software for a small device. Including writing prompts, form assistance, stanza reordering, and word association suggestions by emotion, this device is a fresh alternative to block text editing, allowing you to take it image by image, line
No matter how you swing it, though, writing on a smartphone is slow and prone to glittery distractions such as texts, games, social media. This post, for instance, has taken me over a week to write. Help!
Phase 4: Publishing
Depending on your outlet of choice, bloggers are most likely to post via WordPress or Tumblr, both of which have functional albeit limited smartphone apps. My publishing app of the day will be WordPress. One unique multimedia story publisher is Blurb, an easy-to-use self-publishing software. Although designed for print (they make beautiful, reasonably-priced photo books including several I designed with our wedding pics), they have a micro-blog capacity online that can later be converted to a print capacity.
Final words of wisdom: Even the daintiest of hands and the wisest of writers can play a clumsy fool by late-night phonelight.