How The iPad Has Revolutionized My Writing

Photo by Sean MacEntee

I have to confess, that when I bought my iPad, it was with the hope that it would make writing easier. What I wasn’t prepared for was the way it revolutionized my writing.

My Blogging Tasks

I’m going to throw a list of writing and blogging tasks into the article here so you have a frame of reference for what I am talking about.

  • Writing posts. Each post goes through phases, from deciding what it will be about, outlining, first draft, finishing, posting and proofing. This was always done on my computer with a combination of my Wiki software (Notestudio), Flickr and WordPress Admin tools. I write the HTML markup as I write the article, using Breevy to automate most of the HTML codes.
  • Reading RSS articles. Open loop articles come from my blog reading. I go through my feeds in Google Reader, storing articles I want to read in Pocket (formerly ReadItLater). I would then go through ReadItLater lists and fully read the articles, marking those I want to use in Open Loops and storing them in Pinboard. This was always done on my computer because I needed the screen real estate for the first part, and ReadItLater didn’t integrate with Pinboard before I bought the iPad.
  • Guest articles. While following the same process as my own posts, there are further processes such as tracking submissions that have to happen. I did this all through my desktop computer.
  • Answering email. I try to answer all blog email, and I do this using GMail. Again, because of screen real estate, I did this on the computer.
  • Writing books. My fiction software is Scrivener for Windows, and I do all my writing there on the PC.
  • Jotting ideas. This was done in either a paper notebook, Use Your Handwriting on my iPod, or on the computer, directly into my pull file.
  • Evaluating and editing guest posts. I get a lot of traffic from potential guest posters. I used to work these out of GMail directly and then bring them into the WordPress software.

What I Thought I Would Do

I figured the iPad would give me a better way to write the text of short posts. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of not doing the HTML markup at the same time, but I could live with that.

I thought the iPad would give me more screen real estate in order to answer emails. The bigger screen and on-screen keyboard would make it much better than the iPod, I thought.

Everything else I figured I could do on the go. I had been hauling around a mini computer, keyboard and mouse, so I figured that even doing things on the web would mean less equipment to haul around.

That’s about it. Not much of an improvement, except that I could be more portable.

What I Actually Do

I have now found a way to do just about everything I do on the PC for writing on the iPad. The only exception is getting the Flickr pictures in place – I have a Breevy macro that takes the information and parses it into the paragraphs and formats I need for the blog. It depends a lot on Alt+Tab action between the web browser and the writing software.

  • Writing posts. I found a Wiki for the iPad called TrunkNotes. While I can only have one notebook (total), I have programmed Python scripts to move the data back and forth between Notestudio and TrunkNotes via Dropbox. All I have to do is remember to do the export/import, and I can write in either place. TrunkNotes allows me to tag the posts, so I know where I am in the writing process of each one, just as Notestudio does. I can access the WordPress site and use it without much difficulty in the web browser.
  • Reading RSS articles. With the advent of Pocket, the rename and re-do of ReadItLater, they became easier for me to do my reading on the iPad, marking articles for saving in Pinboard directly. I write the text around the link right then, and I only have to run a couple of Breevy macros on the PC to get those blurbs ready to insert into an Open Loop post.
  • Guest articles. I can track these in TrunkNotes, but I use a program called Daedelus instead. I can make notes right in the article, and keep all my guest posts together in one place. Since this syncs with Dropbox, I can access them directly from any computer.
  • Writing books. Although Scrivener does not yet link with Index Card on the iPad, I have written a program that will do it (to a certain extent). My hope is that I will have the interface fully working between the two in the next month or so, so that it will not matter what machine I have on hand for working on the book.
  • Jotting Notes. It is so easy for me to open up Daedelus and start writing ideas down. Again, since it syncs with Dropbox, I have access to them from my desktop computer.
  • Evaluating and editing guest posts. Once I receive a guest post in the correct format (text only attachment), I put that into Google Docs in a special folder. From there, I can pull it down to the iPad in Awesome Note, and move it to different folders, depending on what I am doing with it. It is making processing guest posts much quicker to get it out of GMail…not to mention I also don’t lose track (much) of guest posts anymore.

All in all, my iPad has become my preferred blogging tool. I take it everywhere, and I am much more productive at all the tasks that go into the blog and books.

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Photo by Sean MacEntee


  1. Jane says

    I’m not sure I understood a single word you wrote. I thought I was fairly hip to the latest apps & productivity programs…but sheesh – after reading your article – it would appear that I ‘m living in the app-world Dark Ages.
    I use Things as my base core organizer. I use Reeder as my RSS feed reader. I use Dropbox & ICloud for sharing among my Mac & iPad/iPhone. I use Paprika for recipes.
    Those few apps/programs seem to cover me well for what I need, but is there something I’m missing here? Am I overlooking a valuable app to do something else that I don’t even know I need doing? LOL

    • LJ Earnest says

      Reading back over it, it was incomprehensible! Thanks for pointing that out. I will endeavor to do better and explain the software in the future.