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 HMTL 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 ReadItLaster 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.


Did you know you can get Twitter and Facebook updates from this blog? For Twitter, look for @SmplProdBlog. On Facebook it’s Facebook.com/SimpleProductivity.


Photo by Sean MacEntee

#Excerpt

  1. 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

    • 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.