Tag Archives: filofax

IPad Writing Apps That Authors Love

iPad and WriterAs a writer, I’m a big fan of writing without internet distractions. When I go to my local writing group’s coffeehouse write-ins, I do bring a laptop, but I hesitate to turn the wifi on for fear that I will end up spending my time surfing the web instead of writing. Yet, there are times when connection to the internet can be useful. For this reason, I keep my iPod Touch beside my laptop for research, to use as a timer, or to provide background music. The action of having to leave my primary writing device to call on the internet is usually enough to keep the insidious Facebook and Twitter at bay. I use well known iOS apps such as Evernote, Dropbox, iTunes, Clock, and Kindle on the go. I can recommend any of these as must-have apps whether you write directly on your iPad or simply use your iPhone or iPod Touch for research as I do.

For those that are thinking of using their iPads to do creative writing, I’ve assembled a short list of iOS apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that go beyond the usual recommendations for using Evernote, Dropbox and iTunes that you see everywhere else. I hope you’ll find these apps useful whether you use your iPad to actually write your text or simply use it as a research tool by the side of your main writing device.

All the apps reviewed below have been tried by me at one time or another. I have not been asked to review the app by the developer nor do I have any financial stake in their product. These are simply apps that I personally have found interesting.

For more reviews about iPad apps, please visit my other post: More iPad Writing Apps That Authors Love.

Manuscript
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.2 or later

$3.99

This was one of the first writing programs I uploaded into my iPod Touch, on recommendation of a Nanowrimo buddy, and I find it useful for brainstorming or writing notes. I can use it as a straight word processor too, although with my small iPod screen I don’t do my main writing with it, preferring to use my other writing devices. On an iPad, it would be a good basic word processor paired with a bluetooth keyboard. What the app does is walk you through the steps of writing: Pitch, Synopsis, Chapter Outline, then then writing your Content. You can create a storyboard with color-coded index cards. Add, edit, and reorder chapters. It will track your page and word count, a real plus during Nanowrimo. Manuscript has a built in thesaurus and dictionary, in addition to other research tools. Finally, it is dropbox compatible. I find it a great place to store story outlines, character sketches and location descriptions since I can create these files in Scrivener, upload them to dropbox and then download them into Manuscript for easy viewing.

Pages
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.2 or later
$9.99

One of the most highly recommended iPad writing apps is Pages. While it is one of the more expensive apps to purchase, it is feature rich and intuitive to use. It is compatible with MS Word or plain text files. Pages is dropbox compatible, can print via AirPrint, or converts your file to PDF to share via email. You can import files from Mail, the web, or your Mac or PC using iTunes file sharing. Most of my writing friends that write with their iPads use this app as their basic word processor. Due to its MS Word compatibility, it makes any file that you create with it easily transferable to your PC at the end of the day.

Clean Writer
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 4.3 or later
99 cents

Clean Writer is a distraction-free plain text editor for iPad. Most options are hidden from sight and it has customizable color themes and font selection. The app only uses plain text files such as .txt, .md. html and will not open .doc, .rtf or .pdf. It has a live counter of characters, words and lines, can be set to auto-save your files and creates intelligent file name defaults that prevent accidents. Another interesting feature is that you can use gestures on your touch screen to pinch a font, tap for a quick jump and swipes for files. It is compatible with dropbox or you can sync via iCloud. Clean Writer is a wonderful candidate for people that write via markdown and has a preview and conversion function for this style of writing. There are other text writers for markdown writing on the market, but this one is fully featured and at a much lower cost.

Dragon Dictation
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.0 or later
Free

My husband is the one that originally brought Dragon Dictation into our household. He dictates reports for work and then sends them to his assistant via dropbox. I grew intrigued with using voice to create text in apps and other writing programs. I find that the Dragon does a good job. You will need to set aside time to train the app to your voice, but it does not take long for the software to learn your speaking style. I find that Dragon is great for quick notes on the fly when I’m in a quieter setting. I do not find it good for write-ins at coffeehouses since when I’m in a public setting, I tend to keep my writing more private. However, I think that since it is free, it is a great app to add to your arsenal of tools to use. When you want to take a quick note and don’t want to pull out your bluetooth keyboard or hunt and peck on the screen keyboard, Dragon is the way to go.

Writer’s App
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
99 cents

I normally keep my character sketches, location descriptions and chapter notes in a Filofax planner. I find that flipping through the pages can locate the information that I need quickly and I do not need to worry about dead batteries on the go. However, by using paper, it is difficult to transfer this information back into my computer organizational system.

This writer’s app reminded me a great deal of my Filofax in that while it is not a word processor, it is an easy way to store those certain character details on my iPod in a way that they would be easy to find. All my characters can be found in one place, locations in another, chapter outlines/synopsis in yet another, and so forth. It also has templates to help you create the sketches of your characters if you haven’t done it on your own before. All the contents of the app can be sync via iCloud to all your iOS devices. While I am not certain that I would want to give up my Filofax and fountain pen, if you are more the type to want to keep your files on your iPhone or iPad, this might be an excellent research tool. At 99 cents, it is at a bargain price too.

Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
Free

Having a good dictionary and thesaurus on hand while writing is a must-have. I love having this in my iPod Touch in addition to my paper bound ones that I keep in my writing bag. It is best used when your iPad or iPod are being used for researching tools beside your main writing device.

When you look up a word in the Dictionary or Thesaurus, the app provides synonyms, antonyms and similar and related words to help you make your writing more interesting. It has a “fuzzy” filter when you are not sure of the spelling of word to help you find it in the dictionary. You can create a favorites feature that helps you make your own categories and lists of words. Your last visited words are saved in a history so you can quickly go back and recheck words. A new feature to the app is that you can snap a photo of text and it will scan the words and translate them. You can even play a mean game of hangman in it when you are bored.

Index Card
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 5.0 or later
$4.99

Index Card is a writing app that looks like a corkboard, similar to the one that comes standard in Scrivener. It allows you to capture, organize and compile your story ideas much as you would do with an old-fashioned board and paper index cards. You can drag and drop the cards, tap a card to open it for editing, swipe the editing screen to go through your project one card at a time or scroll the list of cards to browse your whole project. The app is compatible with Dropbox or with iTunes file sharing. There is an option to print your index cards from the app via AirPrint. What makes Index Card unique is that it is also compatible with the Mac version of Scrivener! You can use this app on the go to develop your chapter index cards and then import them into Scrivener to develop them into full content files later. My friends that are heavy Scrivener and iPad users recommend this app highly.

MiTypewriter For IPad
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 5.0 or later
$1.99

I had to include this app in the list, as a distraction free writing environment with few frills. The app simulates an old-fashioned typewriter complete with all the sound effects. You can write your email with this and then send it either via image or text. When you want to erase your text, you use the backspace key. The Fonts, that come in either black or red, are “Old Typewriter” or “American Typewriter”. It does have a minimal document management system and it is compatible with AirPrint. I’m a writer that switched to a mechanical keyboard to return to having the “typewriter sound” when I write in my studio, so I personally found this app to be appealing for writing on the go. I can not recommend this app for writing long pieces of work, but for email and notes it certainly seems like fun.

Lists for Writers
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
$2.99

This has proven to be one of my better research tools when I’m out writing at the local coffeehouse. The app is a hodgepodge of lists to help you brainstorm new ideas. There are lists of names, character traits, plot lines, occupations, verbs and more. It has a functional dictionary built in and a place to keep writing notes that you can later upload to your main computer. I keep this app on my iPod touch, but it would work on any iOS device. The iPad users in our writing group had a easier time reading the information of the lists as compared to myself on the smaller iPod. It was a real hit among my Nanowrimo compatriots last November.

New Years Resolutions for Writers

Making ResolutionsThis is the year I want to focus on being a productive writer and reach my goal of publishing my first novel by the end of 2013. I’ve made my living as an artisan jeweler and gemologist for the past two decades. I am well used to the lifestyle of traveling to venues to sell my work alternated with creating my product in my home studio. I want to transition into making my income with my writing instead of via my jewelry this year. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from starting a small business, it is that you need to not only have a main goal to work toward, but you also need to think about the steps you need to do in order to reach that goal.

Below are the following habits that I’m going to work on for 2013, call them my New Year Resolutions. I’m sure that other writers have similar goals depending on where they are in their careers.

  1. I will set aside three days a week where I focus on my novel and write at least 2000 words each writing session. I will make a point to take my Alphasmart Neo or laptop and go out of my studio to write. This will develop the habit of knowing that when I leave my studio, it is to work on my novel. The local library, coffeehouses, or the park are all on the list as alternate writing locations. I also have a group of writers that I join occasionally to write with.
  2. I will write everyday. In the age of the Internet, we all tend to write something each day even if it is simply posts to our Facebook pages. One of the reasons that I started No Wasted Ink last year was to push myself into writing stories and articles every day. A habit of action that will sharpen my skills as a writer and help me develop a backlog of work for my portfolio. I used to track my word count for the day in my writing filofax, but I’ve since dropped that habit once I realized that I was putting in well over 1000 words a day on all the various projects that I maintain. My writing everyday habit is established and it is one that intend to continue in 2013.
  3. I will begin an art journal to sharpen my drawing and handwriting skills. One of the goals I have for my trilogy is to produce my own book covers and possibly to create an illustrated version as a special edition. While I am not certain if my artwork will be up to my standards of quality, I find that if one doesn’t practice art, you do not improve. I purchased a Strathmore watercolor journal toward this goal. While I don’t believe I will sketch everyday, I hope to relax with drawing at least a few times a week and see where it progresses.
  4. I will make an effort to read at least one book a week. I tend to read classics, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. One of the reasons that I decided to write book reviews of classic literature was to learn more about these famous authors and what made them tick. I’ve been pleased to discover that what drove them to write is similar to what drives us as modern age authors. For a long time, I had given up reading books due to font size in printed books, but with the advent of the ereader and the ability to make the font of any novel a size I can see comfortably, I am rediscovering my love of books. Reading fuels my desire to write.
  5. I will submit at least 4 short stories for publication during 2013, aiming to publish at least one per quarter. I also want to use one short story to open up my author pages on various sites such as Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. This short story or novella will allow me to have all my publishing sites open and in place so that I do not have to scramble to do it along with publishing my first novel. If it earns a little income, that would be a plus.
  6. I will limit my use of social media and/or non-essential Internet. This includes games, reading forums and blogs. I tend to do this more than I should and much of it is not related to the online marketing that I do for my jewelry and writing. I need to continue the online marketing, but I am hoping to limit my playing on the Internet. Combining this goal with the alternative writing locations that are Internet free should help me with this problem.
  7. I will improve my home studio to make it a better writing space. In 2012, I purchased a new desk with a return and am in the process of reorganizing my writing space to make it more productive. I am looking into new drawers and boxes to hold office supplies, putting my jewelry supplies out of sight, decorating with a new color scheme, and keeping my desk more tidy. I find that I am more creative when I am not surrounded by clutter. Therefore, the clutter and unnecessary items need to go.
  8. I will take at least one writing course during 2013. Most of the time, I enjoy taking online classes since they are convenient to my schedule, however I feel that taking one at the local community college is also beneficial. It would allow meeting like minded people and keep me more accountable with my writing. The classes I’ve taken in the past two years have been a refresher grammar class, a refresher class about punctuation, and a class that helped with navigating through the process of Nanowrimo. This coming year I have my eye on a second punctuation class and I might consider a creative writing course at the local community college via their adult education program.
  9. I will have chapters and short stories to submit to a writing critique group. I am in the process of forming up a writer’s critique group with GLAWS, The Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society. We will meet either monthly or bi-weekly. I intend to start putting my writing through the critique process before submitting it to be published. I have been avoiding this part of the writing process for quite some time, but I am seeing that it would be of benefit to me to get more involved with my fellow writers in my local area.
  10. I will make a point to exercise on a regular basis. As an artisan jeweler, I found that my work was physical enough to have health benefits. It is an unfortunate fact of life that a writer generally sits in a chair all day as they work. I want to start to counterbalance this sedentary lifestyle with more movement. I am considering starting a fitness journal to track my weight and exercise progress and plan on adding walking and cycling on a more regular basis to my general lifestyle. Walking is a great way to work out story plot holes as you take in fresh air and get your heart working.

These are my New Year’s Resolutions. What are yours?

Philofaxy Reader Under the Spotlight – Interview of Wendy Van Camp

Crimson Filofax Malden Binder

I’d like to thank Steve Morton of Philofaxy fame for making me the latest “Reader Under the Spotlight” at his blog. He interviewed me about my filofax organizers, what I use them for, which ones I prefer in the various ranges offered, and other Filofax related questions. I hope you’ll stop by and take a look at the interview.

If you’d like to read more about how I use my Filofax for writing or my views on paper vs. technology, you can read the following blog posts here at No Wasted Ink:

Filofax Writing Journal
Paper-Phobia and the Modern Writer

Writing Space: Wendy Van Camp

As the creator of No Wasted Ink, I often take a back seat and feature other writers here on the blog. After all, it is rather difficult to interview oneself! I thought that instead I might do a writing space post to give you all a glimpse of where the posts of this blog are created.

“Intrepid” Young Filmmaker Wendy Van Camp with her Super 8 Camera
I’ve always been a writer and a storyteller, although I haven’t always told my stories with words. I wrote my first novel at the tender age of four years, all handwritten on wide ruled school paper in child’s scrawl. All three revisions of it! I still keep it as a memento, but it is locked away where no one can see. My second novel was written during my mid-teen years on a broken Selectric typewriter. The carrier return had to be pushed with my right hand while I typed with my left. I clearly remember the scent of whiteout and being painstakingly careful about typos as I wrote. I did several revisions of this novel over a two or three year time span and learned to type as fast with just my left hand as with both. For some reason, my parents never saw fit to fix the typewriter for me.

In college I discovered filmmaking and shifted my focus from the written word to telling stories with a script and a camera. I remained happy with this medium for a good fifteen years of my life. I’ve produced and directed feature length projects, more talk shows than I can remember, parades, city council meetings, and toy commercials. As time went on, I developed a small artisan jewelry business and gradually, as television and film work moved overseas, I focused more on creating beautiful items for women to wear and learned to love the freedom that the lifestyle of an artist offers. I did not return to writing stories seriously until 2010 when the idea for a novel burst into my mind and would not let me go. I have been writing novels, articles and short stories ever since. No Wasted Ink was started New Year’s Day 2012 and is now my writing home on the web.

Wendy Van Camp's Writing Space and Studio
Wendy Van Camp’s Writing Space and Studio
These days, I have a dedicated writing space in my home. No more broken Selectric typewriter on the kitchen table for me! A room in my house is my “creative studio” with a lovely view of our lemon tree and my rose garden just outside the window. Here you will find my jeweler’s bench, workbench, shelves of supplies, a comfortable plush chair to relax in, and my trusty desktop computer and desk. I write most of the short fiction, articles and the blog posts on the desktop using my Scrivener program. The large monitor is an asset to me as it allows me to blow up the text large enough to be seen even with my aging eyesight. I love my studio and spend most of my day there, either working on jewelry to create stock for my jewelry business, writing or just enjoying the Internet during my off time. My dog has a certain spot behind my chair and she keeps me company during the day. So far, the hammering, sawing, or intense concentration to my computer doesn’t bother her. That is loyalty.

Alphasmart Neo and Samsonite Shuttle Case
Alphasmart Neo
I use other tools in my writing. An Alphasmart Neo is my drafting machine of choice and you will see me with it out in the coffeehouses when I am drafting a new story. The small screen and distraction free writing helps me focus on my work. I credit using the Alphasmart for helping me win the 50K goal at NaNoWriMo for the first time. When I need research information I refer to my filofax writing binder where I keep character sketches, notes and other information about my novel, or in a pinch I will call up information on my ipod touch. I also use a NEC Mobilepro 900 that I have souped up by flashing it with upgraded software. It is what I use for revisions since it allows me to see more of the text than the Neo.

Creating the Outline of a Novel: From Notebook to Scrivener

A novel always starts out in the back of my mind as a nebulous zygote. A character or a single scene is the seed from which a beautiful child (novel) will be born. It grows there in my mind without my noticing it until one day it solidifies. I say to myself, “Ah ha! There is a story there to write.” It is time for the birthing process to begin. For some people, this means “pantsing” a rough draft without any thought beyond the original seed. For me, I prefer the outline process to give myself a solid foundation with which to build on.

I like to begin the outline process with pen and paper or in Word on my desktop. The pen and composition books are easier to take with me and give an extra layer of creative play that I’ve come to value. There is something about the feel of paper and a pen in your hand that is comforting. It slows down the process enough to allow you to think the details through. I always use a pen, not a pencil. I do not want to be able to easily erase what I’ve written. This is not a time for editing, but for allowing unhindered expression to come forward. I can not do this on a computer due to my fast typing speed. Lately, I’ve been favoring the notebook method over using Word on the computer to outline.

When starting a notebook, I will put the name of the novel at the top, the year I started working on it, and what volume this notebook is. Sometimes there is only one volume, sometimes there are more. For my first novel, I barely had any notes at all. Most of my ideas were in my head alone. Now I find that there is more value in putting the ideas down on paper as best I can. A novel can stretch out over a few years time in the the writing of it. That is a long time to remember tiny details.

My novel’s beginnings are a scrawl of different things. Mind maps where a central character or scene is at the center and I ask myself “what if” questions and then write down ideas as they come no matter how strange around the central idea. Most of these “what if” scenarios are cast off as illogical or too far fetched. Ideas that I like, I highlight, but otherwise simply leave them in the notebook. I sometimes will write down narratives of scenes that have come to me. I don’t go into details, that will come later with the writing of the novel itself, but I try and capture the essence of what is percolating in my subconscious.

I start doing “interviews” of the main characters as they come to me. It is a method that I learned in a creative writing class last year. I make a note of the character’s physical features and find an actor that he can be loosely based on. I begin to formulate the personalties and emotional and intellectual goals and ideals of each character. I write down phrases that would be common to them alone, gestures and other habits that help make the character his own person.

Since I write science fiction and fantasy novels, I find it helpful to rough out a map of the land I’m writing about. Nothing of great detail, enough so that I know where everything is located and can have a good idea as to how long travel time is between the different locations in the story. If I decide that a map will be useful to the readers later, I either will create a better one myself or hire an artist to draw one for the book.

At this point, I open up a file in Scrivener and start to set up the project. In the research area, I create files for the character sketches, the location descriptions and decide on keywords to represent each character, location and special object. This helps me to track information during the revision phase of writing. I also like to print out this information to fit into my writing filofax journal so that I can take my research information with me when I write outside my home. I consider the Scrivener files to be the master copies and my filofax the copy. When I update the information, I update Scrivener first and then print out a new page for the filofax. I like to use the filofax since I don’t have to worry about electricity or waiting for the information to load up in a computer. What I need is all there organized in my writing journal without distraction of the Internet.

Once the research information is in Scrivener, I start an “outline” file in the research area. I write a short paragraph of each scene of the novel from beginning to end based on the highlighted areas of my mind maps from the notebooks and the short scenes that I’ve already written down on paper. The master outline is one file in the research area of Scrivener and a copy is printed for my filofax writing journal. At this point I’ve closed my paper composition notebooks and am working completely in Scrivener.

The final step, before I begin drafting, is to take each outline paragraph and create a separate file for it in the drafting area. I will give the scene a title, write a short synopsis of it in the scrivener card and then paste the entire description paragraph into the document notes section of the inspector. I also label and put in the status of the newly created file.

Every writer uses a different method to create their novels, this is the way I cobble together mine. I consider Scrivener and my filofax writing journal to be the key elements of the system. Scrivener organizes my research and novel information and the filofax is its backup shadow that comes with me everywhere. Together, they form the backbone of my creative process and help to make writing my novels easier.