The Apple iPad As Writing Tool

It’s unlikely anyone reading this hasn’t seen or heard about the Apple iPad, which seems to have taken over the technology world this past few months. The device is portable and easy to operate, and uses a touchscreen interface so intuitive I’ve yet to find anybody who can’t figure the thing out immediately.

Much has been made in reviews of the device being better suited for consumption of media (listening to music, reading email, blogs and ebooks, or watching videos) than for producing it, but the iPad occupies an important place in my writing workflow. Most of my “real” writing happens in Scrivener, which is a Mac application with no iPad equivalent. But leading up to the actual drafting and editing in Scrivener, I do a lot of note-making, gathering and combining the various seeds and ideas that grow into the beginnings of a story. I keep all my notes centralized in Evernote, an application that I keep on all my Macs, Pcs and my iPad, but which I use most often on my iPad for the actual capture of ideas. During the drafting and revision of a story I often get ideas that I intend to apply to the story in progress, and these go into Evernote with a tag appropriate for the story. When I’m ready to work on a given story, I first check Evernote for any ideas tagged with that story’s title, and it brings together every scrap or idea or name-change I may have come up with since I last worked on it. Once a note has been incorporated into the story (or discarded), I delete the note from Evernote.

There does not yet exist for iPad a word processor or text editor application without a lot of flaws. Apple Pages is a pretty nice program and only costs $10 but there are some serious weaknesses regarding how you get your work into and out of Pages, so I don’t use that program at this time. If I wanted to draft a story scene, I’d fire up my bluetooth keyboard (the onscreen keyboard works fine for shorter bits of typing but I wouldn’t to type hundreds or thousands of words with the thing, unless I had to) and type the text into Evernote. Then next time I was at a “real” computer I could collect any such scenes, again using Evernote’s tagging feature to designate written drafts to be incorporated into Scrivener, Word, or whatever application you use to write your storise or novels.

I love my Macbook Pro and if I were to travel for any length of time with the intention of doing real writing, I would probably take that along. But for a short trip, I could definitely imagine taking just the iPad and getting all kinds of work done. I’ve always believed a lot of the work of writing isn’t just writing drafts, but creating notes, sorting through them, combining ideas into an interesting brew and then starting to outline, sketch characters, and brainstorm. All this kind of activity is perfect for the iPad, and Evernote is an absolutely essential tool for this.

Get ready to party!

Now, I have a couple of PCs running Windows (though I prefer using a Mac when I can), so I don’t entirely want to start a Mac-versus-Windows battle royale here. We all know Apple has a certain “coolness” factor Microsoft would love to emulate.

Apple Retail Store
Apple Retail Store

Apple retail stores have this incredible THX-1138 modern atmosphere, and people just love to go in there and browse and feel awesome. Microsoft is getting ready to start opening their own retail store and the rumor is that they’ve been hiring away top Apple store managers to try to steal Apple’s mojo, I guess.

Remember when George Lucas was cool?
When George Lucas was cool

Microsoft is getting ready to release Windows 7 which, after the monumental pile of suck that was Vista, should be an event anticipated by a certain number of people.

In an attempt to create a bit more of a sense of EXTRAVAGANZA, however, Microsoft in its customary tone-deafness has been promoting the idea of the “Windows 7 Release Date Party.” See here:

The always-wonderful Cabel takes a whack at the low-hanging pinata (note to self: find n character with tilde over it) here with his own slight variation on MS’s vid:

Cabel’s Blog LOL — Windows 7 Party

None of my home PCs have any version of Windows newer than XP (and I will not willingly install Vista on any machine I own), but I’ll wait and see what the nerds say about Windows 7. In the mean time, Microsoft remains one of those companies utterly unaware of how they are perceived, and delusional about their own image, trying again and again to “go viral” and create buzz about lame shit like Vista, and the latest Windows Media Player, and worst of all, the Zune.

Only the finest industrial design for our Microsofties
Only the finest industrial design for our Microsofties

OK, enough Win-bashing for now!