Tag Archives: writer

Writing Apps For Your Tablet

November is Nanowrimo month and like many writers, I’m busy plugging away at my great American novel. My machine of choice on the go is the Alphasmart Neo combined with a Logitech rubber lap board and a Mighty Bright dual lamp light. The only drawback to the Neo is that it does not have a means to download text onto the cloud since it was originally designed before such systems existed. Pen and paper is still a common choice for writers as well, but I’ve noticed that a growing number of participants have been turning to tablets combined with blu-tooth keyboards to write their novels. Whether you choose an iPad or an Android based tablet, writing with apps that are geared more for the writer instead of the casual phone user is to be preferred. The following are a few writing apps that I’ve seen other writers use at coffeehouse write-ins.

Werdsmith
Free or upgrade to Pro for $2.99

This is an app that purports to “turn your iPhone or iPad into a portable writing studio”. It does have a word count feature and is a good basic writing app. It has none of the frills you would find on a true computer, but for writing a rough draft on the go, you don’t always need that.

Daedalus Touch
$4.99

If you are looking for a text editor that is simple to read and has a visual organization, Daedalus Touch might be for you. This is an iPad app which features distraction free writing, huge import/export options including epub, textExpander and Markdown support, and best of all it includes dropbox sync.

Write
$2.99

One of the more recommended writing apps by my friends that use android tablets is Write. It has a minimalist text editor interface which makes it great for taking notes, writing chapters and it imports/exports to Dropbox and Evernote among others. It has a word count feature which is necessary for Nanowrimo, and a search function for your notes. CNET calls it the “best android notepad apps for students”.

Nanoprogress
Free

One of the features of Nanowrimo is the word count graph on the website that helps to motivate you to reach your goals. However, what if you wanted to work on Camp Nanowrimo in June or August or simply have a similar graph to motivate you at other times of the year. This is the app that will do it for you. It is a simple, free app for your Android tablet that will help you keep on track at any time of the year.

These writing apps are only to get your started. There are a huge number of apps for your iPad or Android out there to help you write novels, blog posts, and journal entries. Look for apps that feature a word count, easy import and export of your text to your desktop, laptop, or the cloud of your choice, and have an interface that is as distraction free as possible. With these apps in your toolbox, you can win Nanowrimo!

Writing Space: Blaine D. Arden

It is always wonderful to find a fellow notebook and fountain pen lover, just like myself. I hope you enjoy reading about Blaine’s writing space and her creative style.

Blaine Arden AuthorWriting is something I do anywhere. Always have. When I was younger, I wrote in class, during breaks, at birthdays and parties. These days I write in waiting rooms, at volleyball matches–watching my kids play–on trains, and during breaks at choir practice. I never leave home without my fountain pen and my notebook. You never know when the solution to that little plot gap springs to mind, or when I suddenly know the name of my newest character.

I tried remembering, I really did. I’d go to sleep convinced that I’d remember it come morning, and would then spend all day cursing myself for believing it, and unable to remember, no matter how hard I tried reliving those minutes before falling asleep. So, I learned my lesson and don’t leave home without my writing implements.

Blaine Arden Notebook and Parker Fountain PenWhat I use? Well, last year, friends gave me this wonderful magenta Parker fountain pen, and I love writing with it. I’m a bit finicky about notebooks, though. I’ve used everything from exercise-books to different sizes notebooks to an A5-binder, which though bulky, came closest to my ideal notebook. But it wasn’t until I sat across from a man writing in an Atoma notebook in the train, that I knew I’d finally found it. I fell in love with it at first sight and have been writing in them ever since. With the ability to take pages out and put them back in again, they make me feel so organized.

Being able to write anywhere and any time, I never thought I’d need a dedicated space for writing. Sure, I had a desk in my room when I still lived with my parents, and could be found in my room most of the time–pretending to do homework while I was really acting out my stories with the barbies hidden away in my bottom drawer. But when I moved in with my boyfriend–now husband–it was just the two of us, so I was easily satisfied with sitting on the sofa or at the dining table, and later, a desk in the living room.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago–I think I was doing NaNoWriMo for the second time–that I started yearning for a space where I could retreat from the hustle and bustle of having kids playing with friends, playing games, and asking questions at the most inopportune times–bypassing Daddy who’d be sitting not a meter away, of course.

Blaine D Arden Office SpaceThe smallest bedroom–formerly known as walk-in closet–was turned into an office, and at the end of last year my husband made me a lovely new workspace that spans two and a half walls and leaves me plenty of space to work at, read at and clutter. (yes, I tidied the desk before taking the picture). It’s a wonderful, inspirational, place, and it’s all mine. The only drawback is that I don’t have a door. We’d taken that one out years ago, sacrificing it for more closet space, and later reused it when we created a bedroom in the attic. Instead I have a sturdy pvc fly curtain with a yin-yang sign to create a sense of privacy.
As for the kids? They might not be asking my attention every couple of minutes anymore, and they’re old enough to leave me alone when I’m writing–considering that they’re almost all adults themselves now–their bedrooms are a little too close for comfort, and I often find myself grabbing my noise reduction headphones to tune them out to work. Early mornings, on the other hand, are blissfully quiet. 🙂

Blaine is a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life. You can find Blaine at: her website, on twitter, and on facebook. You can also email her at blaine@blainedarden.com

Life As A Writer

I had a dream. An idea for a novel burst into my mind one night and it would not let me go. I had not written a story in over a decade and considered myself long past the point where being a writer was an option for a career choice. I was an artisan jeweler and gemologist. I published articles, but they were non-fiction pieces about jewelry making, stones, or antique jewelry. However, the siren song of a novel was an earworm. It sang to me in my sleep. It consumed my thoughts during the day. Finally, I could bear it no longer. I started to write it down.

I haven’t stopped writing since.

When we start out as writers, we consider it a hobby. We do it in our free time, enjoy the process of creation, and hope that others appreciate our efforts. Then we gain encouragement and start to consider becoming a writer as a profession. What might that life be like? We dream of sleeping in late, typing on our computer in our bathrobe, and being able to travel to book signings with adoring fans. A life that is the path less taken. The question becomes, how do we function as writers day to day? What changes to we need to make in order to transition from a day job where you work for an employer to become a successful, self-employed writer?

A Dedicated Workspace

Many writers benefit from having a specific area set aside in their homes that is set up as their workplace. Perhaps a spare bedroom is set up as an office complete with a desk, computer and research materials or perhaps simply an unused corner of a larger room. When you set up a dedicated workspace in your home for writing, it tells the other members of your family that this space is off-limits for other tasks.

My first workspace was a modest table in my bedroom. The table held a desktop computer, a fax machine, and an area for writing in notebooks. Inexpensive wire cubes served as my organizer to create vertical storage. Years later, when my husband and I were able to afford our house, I left my little table behind and gained one of the smaller rooms of our new home as my own studio workspace. I did not have a large budget to spend, so I bought a cheap particle board desk to hold my desktop computer and a folding table where I clamped a board from the lumber yard to become my jewelry workbench. Eventually, I added a used jeweler’s bench so I could forge metals, hang a flexshaft and gain more space for my ever growing pile of specialized jeweler’s tools.

I’m shifting gears once more and changing the room again. I put in a modern glass L shaped desk for my computer, notebooks, and drawing supplies and removed the old table and board. My studio now allows my writing to take more precedence in my work flow and the jewelry making is secondary. The desk has a more professional and mature look, making the room a true office space, and I feel that removing much of the clutter of my jewelry supplies from sight will be an aid to my production of articles, short stories, and novels. I will not be embarrassed to bring a guest in here now and have a comfortable chair to offer them to sit in or use the chair myself for reading.

Limit Interruptions

One of the main habits I use as an artisan and writer is to set up a work schedule for myself. Otherwise it is easy to fall into the habit of puttering in your home. It is important to set up certain times in the day to write and then make sure you are seated in your dedicated workspace and writing at that time. Your family and friends need to learn that this is your work time and that you need to be able to work in peace without interruptions just as if you were going to a physical office outside your home. If you set up a schedule and post it on the refrigerator or perhaps a joint google calendar that everyone in your family is aware of, it will be easier to arrange for this necessary time to get your work done. For physical interruptions, being able to close an office door can be helpful. When it is the phone that is the problem, using caller ID and voice mail to screen calls can keep your down time to a minimum. I will always take a call from my husband during the day, telemarketers not so often.

I have found that once I set up my working space in a spare room and had the ability to close the door, I was able to gain the quiet time I needed to work. Since I have an artisan jewelry business in addition to my writing, I divide my time between my two jobs. I generally work on articles for magazines, ghost writing, blog posts, and other non-fiction works in the morning. My afternoons are spent at my jeweler’s bench making stock or managing the tasks of my home such as cleaning or shopping. Night time is when I feel the most creative and that time is reserved for short story and novel writing. My weekends are often spent away from home at conventions, festivals, and renfairs were I sell my jewelry, however I am not away every weekend and do schedule in time to be with my husband and have fun. Sometimes I feel that I work more hours than if I had a regular nine to five job away from home, but I do have the ability to take off on a whim and go to the beach or go shopping mid-week when I do not have to deal with crowds. I often work in my slippers and my co-worker is my faithful dog. I am responsible for my own destiny and I embrace the freedom that this gives me. It is a trade-off, relative security for personal responsibility, but one that I value.

Limit Distractions

While working at home is now more common, you will still find people will believe you are “available” because you are home. Family and friends will ask you for favors during the day because they do not perceive what you are doing is a real job. Learn to say no in a firm, but polite manner. Remind them that what you do is as real job as the one that they do and that you need time to work. Once a few royalties or paychecks come in, this perception that you are “playing at home” will diminish. I also find that because I am away at venues on weekends to sell my jewelry as later I will be at book festivals to promote my books, I tend to miss out on family and friend’s social gatherings more than most people. When I mention that I work on the weekend, I often receive a groan of sympathy, as if this were a heavy burden. To me it is not a burden at all, but it does involve some acceptance of sacrifice on my part.

In this age of technology where we are all interconnected via our smartphones, tablets, and computers, it is easy to allow this information submergence to cut into your writing time. For me, the most insidious distraction is the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and forums are all interesting reads. My ebooks are just a finger touch away. I might innocently start to read a forum or two and the next thing I know I’ve lost several hours of prime work time. I’ve developed several strategies to combat this issue.

In my office, I have learned to use a timer system. I work without turning to the internet except for direct research of an article for a certain amount of time that I’ve set. Once the buzzer goes off, I’m allowed a short period of time to look at Facebook or forums as a reward. I also limit the pulling of email to three times a day. Once in the morning, in the early evening and late at night. Another thing that I will do is to leave my office behind. I pick up my Alphasmart Neo or my NEC MobilePro which has no internet access along with my writing journal for research notes and go to the library, my local Starbucks or the park to write. I set a writing goal for the day and do not come home until I’ve met it. I am only human. I do succumb to the distractions of the internet more than I should, but I do find that these methods help a great deal.

Make Time To Socialize

The work of a writer is somewhat lonely. It is important to reach out via networking, both for marketing your work and for making friends to enrich your life. I belong two groups. The first is Nanowrimo and the other is Independent Writers of Southern California.

Nanowrimo is filled with wannabe writers, but there are many accomplished writers that have come up through the system that still participate in the event or now offer to mentor young writers. Through Nanowrimo I’ve learned many basic writing tips, about new software and tools for writing, and gained encouragement to continue forward with my writing goals. While most of the activities with Nanowrimo is in November, there are enough events scattered through the year to keep you active.

The Independent Writers of Southern California or IWOSC is a large society of professional writers, most of whom are published, and it is a place to meet writers or to attend panels, lectures or workshops. Members come from all over the state of California and the general meeting often has 150 to 200 people in attendance. IWOSC also offers a reading series for members.

I find that the information I gain from each group is different. The professionals are more old-school both in how they market their books and in the tools that they use. The Wrimos are more contemporary with their methods and writing tools, more focused on the joy of writing than on making a living with their words. Between the two I find that there is a delightful balance of information.

This Is Your Life

The life of a writer can be a solitary experience and it is not for everyone. You need to have self-discipline and a sense of self-reliance to be successful. You must live in a constant balancing act between putting the words on the page and getting out of your office to meet with the local community. It is likely you will work longer hours than your friends with “normal” jobs and you will face rejection and low pay for many years until you create a catalog of titles to sell. Is it all worth it? Speaking as someone who has been self-employed for most of her life, I believe that it is. I enjoy a lifestyle of freedom that many people only dream about. I can schedule a day off to go to the beach with no one looking over my shoulder to ask why I am not in my office. I travel, meet interesting people with wildly varied viewpoints, and yes, I do work in my slippers on occasion. The dream is now a reality that I have created. It is life as a writer and artist.

Will you live it too?

Writing Space: Renee Johnson

I’ve been a regular reader of Renee’s blog Writingfeemail for almost a year and have come to enjoy her observations about life and writing. I am often amazed at some of the similarities writer’s share as they pursue their craft. I hope you’ll enjoy Renee’s guest post here at No Wasted Ink.

Renee Johnson Writer and BloggerReading consumed me as a child and the resulting nickname – Bookworm – stuck to me for many years. I wrote my first novel around the age of nine in pink ink on lined loose paper. But growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, I was advised to follow the trail of business, not passion. Pursuing one’s bliss didn’t come into fashion until I was knee deep in the professional world with a business degree under my belt. Although my creative writing professors always encouraged me to continue with my writing, it was thought to be something one did as a hobby instead of a career.

Then I married, had a child, and followed him around baseball fields until I woke up one morning and realized that he was at college three hours away and I had newly acquired free time.

So, I ran away to France to a little village named Essoyes and the Writing School taught by teacher, editor, and writer – Janet Hulstrand. There, I found the validation and confidence that I needed to pursue writing as a second act in my life.

I returned home and began to put the many things I learned into practice and started the blog: Writingfeemail. But it took a while to get a writing space set up that was comfortable and user friendly. I found that I was constantly looking for things like staplers, post-it notes, paper clips, ink pens, etc. So I found a great divided organizer that matched my writing desk and it has been the single best piece of furniture that I have ever bought. Nothing is further than a fingertip away and the dividers keep it all separated so that I don’t have to dig around to find what I need.

Renee Johnson Writing Room

And the desk is in a room upstairs away from the bustle of normal traffic coming in and out of the house. That way I can get a bit more privacy. The small sofa and love seat are perfect for kicking back and proofreading my work or just offering a bit of a rest after hunching over the keyboard for too long.

Renee Johnson Writing room with sofa

There is a second writing tool that I use, especially when traveling. It is a laptop computer. And I have a brown leather journal that I love to carry around and jot notes in. But lately I’ve found that the notepad application on my blackberry has replaced the handwritten notes and that is probably a shame. Combing over my little notations often sparks the fire again for a project in a way that a typed note in the phone just doesn’t!


To read more about my experiences in Essoyes at the Writing School visit writingfeemail.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

Once again, it is time to visit the web for interesting articles about writing. Although I do write the occasional article myself on the topic, I love the wealth of information that is available from all the millions of writers out there in the ether. I hope you will enjoy this week’s selection.

Of Men and Nicknames

The Alchemy of Story: Initiation, Transformation, Revelation

Should You Self Publish Your Novel?

30 Nautical Expressions

Community and Your Writing Business: It Takes a Village

Use illustrations to distract from your writing

25 Lifestyle Changes Guaranteed to Substantially and Quickly Boost your Creative Productivity

Is LinkedIn Losing Its Identity?

Help! My Book Isn’t Selling. 10 Questions You Need To Answer Honestly If You Want To Sell More Books.

5 Ways to Stay Organized as a Freelancer