Best writer's tool

Discussion in 'iPad' started by TaKashMoney, May 31, 2012.

  1. TaKashMoney macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2005
    Hey everyone,

    I wanted to take this time to share what may be a bit of a different experience with the iPad. Since getting the iPad 3 on launch, I have used it almost exclusively as my primary writing device. I make a living writing. I am a screenwriter and director, but I also contribute to a blog almost daily. It is what I am doing everyday and I have to say that the iPad is the best device for first drafts that I have ever used.

    I am currently typing on an Adonit Writer Plus, and while the BT keyboard you choose is really important, I find that its the iPad's unique benefits that help me the most.

    There are the obvious ones - like size, weight, and exceptional battery life (nearly double of the MBA), which means I can take my iPad to any coffee shop/library/park bench and work literally all day. However, its the lack of true multitasking that has been so amazing for me.

    Every writer will admit that writing is hard. Its just like anything else- it takes discipline and hardwork. A lot of writing is simply getting through the grind. The iPad is perfect for this. I dont have a little bouncing icon constantly urging me to answer the latest email. I dont have multiple windows open begging to be clicked. I have one big bright beautiful screen that just begs to be filled with words- and it works magically. I have never used a type-writer, but I can now imagine what it must feel like (just without messy ink ribbons and jammed paper).

    In this stage, editing and correcting are not as important as just getting it down. This is the bulk of the work, and the step where most writers fail - they simply dont write. As much as I love browsing the web using the touchscreen, making edits is kind of a clumsy affair. Because of this, I am much less likely to second-guess myself. My hands stay glued to the keyboard, and I write a lot more.

    With all of this being said, edits are crucial down the road. I'll make corrections and revisions on my MBP, and I'll convert my .txt documents to screenplay form in Final Draft. However, using the iPad to let my ideas flow directly to the page has been an amazing experience.

    Oh, it goes without saying, but the iPad is also the best device I have ever used to read and mark up screenplays with.

    For those who may be interested here are some of my crucial apps:

    1) Dropbox
    2) iAWriter - I do my bulk drafting in this app as it syncs with dropbox
    3) Fountain - not an app, but a syntax to write screenplays in plain .txt that will convert nearly perfectly when imported to Final Draft. John August and Stu Maschwitz developed it
    4) Index Card - great outlining and organizing app
    5) Evernote - for brainstorming and keeping idea journals
    6) PDF Expert - reading and marking screenplays
    7) Final Draft reader
  2. r-sparks macrumors 6502


    Dec 1, 2006
    Thanks for your perspective! It's intersting what you say about no distractions. I too find writing on an iPad a nice experience and very productive but as you say for first drafting only. What I like about the new iPad is the sharpness of the text. It's one less computery thing to get in the way of work.

    Plus there's the fact you can just fold up the smart cover and throw it into a bag when you've finished. Just like a notepad.

    I use Pages but I must try out iAWriter. What's stopping me is that it might be TOO basic and more like Notepad.exe than a word processor.
  3. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    Thank you. That perspective of lack of multitasking on the iPad is one I had not heard yet. When the iPad first came out, there were a lot of folks wondering what you would do with it. I find it fascinating how many people have found truly unique ways to use the iPad that probably exceed Apple's expectations.
  4. metanoiac macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2012
    I totally agree! The lack of distraction is also one of the main reason why I love to draft using the iPad.

    One thing I like to add is that I prefer to write in portrait mode, using ByWord (but iA writer works just as well). Portrait mode displays the text in a more narrow column, which is beneficial for writing as it is for reading, because it reduces the amount of eye movement you have to do to follow the text.

    I describe my Writing in the Wild (or city park) workflow here:
  5. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    Thanks for the tips. I use my iPad a lot for brainstorming/writing as well.

    Don't forget everyone, use the Dictate feature, it's incredible, this post and most posts I make here are done via Dictate, same for brainstorming, replying to emails etc.

    The physical keyboard sounds promising for when you're in situations that using the dictate feature isn't an option. I ordered the Adonit keyboard to give it a try, it will give me another way of using my favorite Apple device :)
  6. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    The lack of true multitasking is a drawback, not a feature, and full-screen mode with the app of your choice on your Macbook Air would accomplish exactly the same thing, at roughly the same weight, and give you access to Scrivener (excellent word processor for writers). I prefer to get rid of distractions through a conscious act of will rather than having them imposed on me by a device's limitations.

    That said, I use the iPad for about 90% of my work (research and writing). The ability to read in portrait mode, handwrite / draw if necessary, work at any angle, and work for longer periods without having to fight with outlet vultures is a real plus.

    To overcome the iPad's limitation, I often pair my bluetooth keyboard with my phone. So, I have a PDF for research open on the iPad and I take notes in Evernote on the iPhone. It works brilliantly.

    Ideally, I could have a PDF open on the iPad and take notes there at the same time, but annotation comment boxes block too much of the screen, and there is no way to open Evernote (or any other program) in a tiny window at the same time.
  7. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I think even if iPad did get windowed multi-tasking, it would not be ideal for the kind of tasks you are doing, simply because the screen real estate is so small. You open a PDF window, a note-taking window, and where are you going to put the keyboard? If you say "Use an external keyboard," well, I'm going to say, "Well, might as well use a Macbook Air, then, for almst the same weight." :p
  8. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I disagree. The screen is actually bigger than the one on my netbook, and I do just fine there.

    As for the keyboard, you are correct, I use an external keyboard. Why not use a Macbook Air? The iPad provides:

    1) Better price
    2) Better screen resolution
    3) Portrait mode (an e-reader)
    4) Handwriting (stylus)
    5) Better battery life (double)
    6) Better convenience (you can pull it out and use it anywhere, even standing on a crowded subway)
    7) 4G (for those who have it)

    Obviously, the iPad isn't for everyone, or every work flow, but I think it has some major advantages, and the fact that you basically have a removable keyboard is a big part of it.
  9. iEvolution macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    You can't change a MBA to a touch screen on the fly nor can you remove the keyboard. I agree with you but everyone has their own preferences.

    The lack of a file system is the biggest pitfall (at least I think so) and really puts a damper on using the iPad as a productivity device. Otherwise it'd be great.

    OP, thanks for sharing your story, pretty cool and shows that the iPad can be more than just a media consumption/gaming device.
  10. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I agree. The lack of a file management system is a drawback. I have found that I can avoid a lot of the issues that come along with that by making use of dropbox and evernote. Dropbox holds everything I am currently working on that needs some kind of proprietary format, and Evernote holds everything else--all of my current work (I mainly use plain text) and all of my completed projects. It turns out that I don't need a file system so much after all in my workflow.

    Naturally, your mileage may vary. If you can develop a system that works for you on the iPad (make sure to test it out extensively before jetting off to a foreign country without your computer), then you can enjoy all of the benefits I mentioned in my post above. If you think you might need to (for example) open up a PowerPoint file and upload it to some website for a collaboration project, then the iPad is probably not for you (because the iPad lacks a file system, it is sometimes impossible to upload files). Logmein and other remote access options can mitigate this problem.

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