iPad Good For A Writer?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by HelixOmnimedia, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. HelixOmnimedia macrumors 6502a


    Jul 26, 2006
    Traveling The World
    New Year, taking my writing more serious an developing a lot of really good projects. In the past I have done a lot of script writing and use FinalDraft - i'm excited that they are working on an iPad version, but I really want to get into novel writing.

    Now I don't know if there's any specific software that writers use, I've only ever used Microsoft Office... So my questions is: Is an iPad good for a writer?

    What software/apps would allow me to write with the iPad and then transfer to my iMac when at home?
  2. KeithJenner macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    You will no doubt get a load of posts saying that the iPad is no good for this due to the soft keyboard, but the truth is that you need to have a go and see for yourself. Personally, I find I can type at almost the same speed as on my computer.

    As for apps to use, the one that springs to mind if you want to share it with your iMac is Pages, which is cheap and works on both.

    You may find that a free app like Evernote is good for jotting down ideas as it automatically syncs between devices, so you could make some notes on your iPad and when you turn your iMac on they will be there once you open Evernote.

    Basically, if you get on with the keyboard then you may well find that it is a decent tool for working on the move. I'd be amazed if you found it was better than your iMac, but you can't carry the iMac around very easily can you.
  3. iSheahan macrumors member

    Feb 21, 2008
    I love this answer! People ask me all the time if they should use this computer or that computer - as if what any one person has to say is the end all to be all. "...have a go and see for yourself." Well said.

    This assumes you're on an Apple computer. I use a Windows computer for my 9 to 5 work, I use a MacBook Pro to run my businesss. I also use an iPhone and an iPad. There is an AWESOME app out there called DropBox that allows you to sync files between all these devices I've listed and more. I am currently researching an app that will specifically open and allow editing of .xls and .doc files from DropBox on my iPad. Those files specifically, because they are compatible with Pages and Numbers, however, Office does not read .pages or .numbers files. If syncing files is important, I think that the .doc file format is going to be most universal (unfortunately). Find an editor that allows you to edit .doc file formats and also has the easiest syncing capabilities.

    Don't forget, one can always buy the bluetooth keyboard and use that. From what I understand there are fold-able versions (third-party) that fit well in smaller iPad cases and work well with most apps found on the iPad.
  4. KeithJenner macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    He says he is.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm one of the few that think that the iPad's keyboard isn't bad, but its not where near as good as a traditional keyboard.

    Depending on your typing speed, method of typing, hunt and peck or touch, YMMV with iPad's keyboard.

    I think iPad's power comes in part to easily bang out some notes, emails, documents, but for serious writing or intensive typing you may find yourself restricted by iPad's keyboard.
  6. ZilogZ80 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 5, 2010
    Although you can, as has been mentioned, use a normal bluetooth keyboard.

    I have been experimenting recently in using my iPad to take notes (with a stylus, not typed) instead of my (many) notebooks. So far I have found Notes Plus to be the best app. It is a bit slower than pen/paper but I am getting faster at using it. I'm hoping the real bonus will come with organising the notes - apparently the author is working on integration with Evernote, which will allow tagging and wireless syncing via the cloud.
  7. huck500 macrumors 6502


    May 10, 2004
    Southern California
    I started a short story on my iPad, and maybe with more practice it would be fine, but right now I have to think too much about where my fingers are, which I don't have to do with a traditional keyboard.

    I was thinking of installing OSX or Linux on a netbook or possibly getting the small Air and using it as a dedicated writing machine, since I know in advance when I'm going to be writing out in the world, and I can just pack it with me.
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Running OSX on an atom based processor is going to be pretty lethargic. I have a dell mini 10v with it, and its a tad pokey.
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    There was a post on Gizmodo earlier this week that linked to another website. The article was basically how the new Macbook Air 11" was the perfect writing tool. Obviously it was just one writer's opinion. I think most of the limitations to the iPad as a primary writing tool have been discussed. I am sure over time with practice one can become very proficient with the virtual keyboard, but at this point it is mostly hunt and peck for me.
  10. jessea macrumors member

    Jul 24, 2009
    I use the iPad constantly for writing thoughts (a few paragraphs at a time) in Evernote.

    I adjusted to the keyboard well, and I can type pretty accurately and quickly without looking at the keypad. I wouldn't recommend it for any serious editing, though.

    You can always get a wireless keyboard and use it with your iPad if you want to sit down and do something a little lengthier.
  11. alpacasrme macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2010
    iPad great for re-writes

    I specifically purchased an iPad to re-write my full length comedy that had it's first reading in December. I loved that I could curl up with it anywhere, something I can't do with my 24" iMac.

    I used the Pages app and could send back my work formatted as .doc.

    I loved working with my iPad ; then I discovered all the other wonderful benefits.
  12. Gatteau macrumors 6502a

    May 23, 2009
    IMO, a MBA is a much more fitting machine for a writer.
  13. LeighAnna Jones macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2010
    Same here. I wanted to write books, considered an iPad; thought on it; decided to get a macbook instead.

    Getting an iPad when they come out with the 4G.

    But I think i'm gonna get an macbook this year.
  14. ndstrenge macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2008
  15. seajay96 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2010
    I think it really depends on your writing style (ergonomics, not literary :) ) and if you plan on using your iPad for anything else.

    Honestly, I love the iPad and you can certainly do writing tasks on it, but if my career or passion was writing novels, I would move to a MBAir. It's almost as light as an iPad but has a dedicated keyboard and more conventional OS and programs that you're used to. Trying to make the iPad work exactly right will probably distract you from the actual task of writing.

    That being said, if your set on an iPad (after trying one out), any of the word processing apps work pretty well and cloud storage/syncing is becoming fairly ubiquitous.

    If you like to handwrite your novels, you can do that on an iPad, although with files the size of a novel, most of the notetaking apps will probably bog down. Maybe check out WritePad, it does handwriting recognition very well and I haven't seen it bogged down at all. It doesn't really work well with the cloud yet, though.
  16. wyneken macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2010
    The great State of Maine
    I use the iPad daily for writing. But I write slowly, so the onscreen keyboard (which I really like) is not an issue. For me, the only issue is getting the right words in the right order. The comfort and flexibility of working with an iPad outweigh all other considerations.

    I would strongly recommend, at present, working mainly with Pages, especially if you're writing fiction. You absolutely need to have some formatting control — at a bare minimum, the ability to use italics, and usually some additional control over things like font, size, line-spacing, indentation and page-numbering — and right now the practical choice seems to boil down to Pages (which can export in .doc format) or plain text. All these cloud-based solutions seem to ultimately reduce your document to plain text, which is just not adequate for fiction-writing.

    if you're a serious writer then your choice of working tools is a very personal and largely intuitive thing. A MacBook Air might be the optional choice. I'm pretty happy with the iPad. But I don't know too many writers who agree.
  17. Maagus macrumors regular

    Nov 7, 2007
    Czech republic
    It depends on your writing habits, style etc. On iPad the multitasking is not that great (if you need to do some simultaneous research I don't think that iPad would be effective in that). However if you need to focus, iPad is great. I fell in love with app called Writings. Get a bluetooth keyboard or keyboard dock and it is great :)
  18. adrian.oconnor macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    Nottingham, England
    I can touch type on my iPad nearly as fast as I can on a regular keyboard, but it isn't perfect, I do make more mistakes. Also, and more worryingly, I get a pretty sharp pain in my right forearm after a short while, which I guess is a warning sign of RSI. I also find that auto-correct is the biggest ball ache in the world, but I leave it on because it does catch a lot of legitimate errors. I wish there were a way to dial it down a notch.

    So it's not bad. Having the stand and the wireless keyboard is a great option -- it means if you're sat at a desk or table you have a genuine writing tool that's as good as any other. The only drawback with that arrangement is that when you want to move the cursor or change something, you have to go from keyboard to touching the screen and it feels all wrong.

    One final word -- I got a MacBook Air (13" model in my case, but I think the 11" would suit most people better) and I hardly use my iPad for writing or any other productive work now. The iPad has become a family computer that the children use mostly. The MacBook Air is amazing -- it's an unobtrusive computer, and I love it.
  19. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    I write for a living... and I have an iPad. I take instant notes with a tiny voice recorder that's always in my pocket... and most of my writing is done at home, on an iMac. Where the iPad scores is for everything else: writing 'on the road', having it with me so I can make notes when I have some time to kill, showing people my photos (I'm a photographer too), etc.

    The software isn't too important, IMO. As a pro writer I don't do layouts; give me 12pt Helvetica and I'm happy. Pages is fine... also many of the note-taking apps too. I routinely email the notes on my iPad to my iMac.

    For serious writing you'd really need a bluetooth keyboard. The onscreen keyboard is OK for notes, but I wouldn't write a book on it. Also, when I'm writing, I need to be 'in the zone', ie focussed, undistracted, so I don't want 'computer stuff' to get in the way of my thought processes. With this in mind, the iPad scores very well...
  20. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

    May 23, 2010
    Shady Dale, Georgia
    I think the ipad will work well for what you are wanting. I would suggest a Bluetooth keyboard for those times you need to really see more screen or type faster. Unlike one of the previous posters, I'm not able to type at full speed on my iPad. I wish that I could use a mouse with it.
  21. MrWillie macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2010
    Starlite Starbrite Trailer Court
    Yep. There are quite a few iPad cases that come with a built in keyboard.



    That's just two, there are more.
  22. iSheahan macrumors member

    Feb 21, 2008
    HA! No kidding... :) kinda overlooked that part of his post. Good shot.

    Anyway, hope my info was helpful for those not on a Mac (poor souls)...
  23. LadyMacBeth43 macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2010
    I work on my book primarily on the iPad. I do have an iMac and I did not want a laptop at the time the iPad was coming out - I was looking primarily for something I could write on and an eReader. Got them both, and then some.

    I can type well on the onscreen keyboard; I think the case you use makes a difference. My accuracy shot through the roof when I stuck my iPad in the InCase Book Jacket. I used to tether the wireless keyboard from my computer to the iPad when I needed to work outside, but I'm using the Zaggmate now. Works fine for me.

    I use iAnnotate to edit drafts. Whenever possible I get my research materials through iBooks or Kindle or in PDF format so all of that material is always with me. I touch the iMac less and less for my writing as each week passes, particularly now that it is so easy to save PDFs to iBooks. I also save a lot of other programs, like a timeline of my project, into PDF so I have that for reference as well. Artwork I do is scanned into the computer and into iPhoto and then loaded into the iPad, too.

    I frequently only have 5 minutes at a time to work on this thing. If I had to wait for a laptop to wake up or turn on every time I had a shot at getting some work done I'd be nowhere. With the iPad I press a button and I'm immediately where I left off. For the way I work and retain information when I read, a laptop would have been the worst possible decision.
  24. HelixOmnimedia thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 26, 2006
    Traveling The World
    After being out of town to LA and having no real internet connection out there I am finally back after posting my original questions.

    Firstly, i had no idea there were so many writers here - that is amazing and good to hear.

    Also THANKS to everyone for the advice, I have went though and looked up and downloaded most of the apps that have been mentioned.

    As a lot of said, I will be mainly using the iPad for on the go and reading a lot of PDFs, online research, photographs as well, and then the bonus is having it for tweeting and all my iTunes media.

    I do love the cases linked within the thread, I will be purchasing one of these... oh yeah and that iPad2 (whenever it comes out).
  25. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
    One of the enjoyable things I do outside my day business is write screen plays. In my opinion the iPad with an external keyboard is perfect for writing.

    There are even a few apps for writing these, although apparently Final Draft has something coming for the iPad.

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