August 15, 2011

novel writing goes mobile

There may not be an app for it — at least not one I know about — but my iPhone has helped me stay productive on the novel I am currently writing.

I know what  you're thinking, "But, Laura, just last month you said going back to an old-fashioned pen and paper was one of the ways you work through writer's block or take your book on the go with you."

I did, and I still do, so relax. But, in the past two weeks, I've found myself using my smart phone to help me work toward my daily word count goals.

Here's how I've put my phone to work on this book:

•  Monitor and track my progress. I'm regularly using the Internet connection on my phone to regularly visit and update my Camp NaNoWriMo profile. Seeing my word count grow every day is a great motivator for me, so it's awesome for me to see it even if I'm away from my laptop or if I don't have WiFi access.

•  Conduct research on the fly. Sometimes, I might have my laptop — or my trusty pen and notebook — but no connection do look up a little fact. With my iPhone, I have access to the Internet and my Wikipedia app. This means I can research whatever I need to develop my story and can't make excuses for being stalled, because of lost facts.

•  Take pictures. As I've previously said, sometimes I find inspiration for my current or future projects from something I see. Thanks to the camera on my phone, I'm never without a means for capturing that moment.

•  Use the "notes" section to jot down ideas or write my book. I always have my phone with me — when I'm in line at the grocery store, waiting at a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch or at a concert in the park (like I was, tonight). These little moments can add up to a lot of content. It's discrete and doesn't draw attention to yourself, because you look like you're just texting or Facebooking. For example, in 30 minutes at the park tonight, I wrote 500 words that I would not have otherwise written. Plus, when you're done writing for the day, you can e-mail it to yourself and easily add it to the story document on my computer.

Though I'm finding a lot of benefits from using my smart phone to help me with my book, I have a few words of caution:

•  Watch your spelling and autocorrect. Your fingers might slip or your phone might decide you mean one word when you meant another. Be aware of what is actually being written to ensure it matches what you meant. You can go back and fix it later, but not if what is written makes absolutely no sense.

•  Don't be distracted. With all the bells and whistles on these phones, it's easy to start out working on your book with the best of intentions and end up playing "Words With Friends." Just like when you are on your computer, block out distractions. That might mean ignoring an unimportant call or text to keep your focus.

Smart phones help us stay connected with our friends, families and business associates thanks to e-mail, social networking applications, etc. Why not use it to help you stay on top of your writing?

Have any of you used smart phones to help you with your writing process? If so, please share with the rest of us.

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