My Beloved Smart Phone

Many things can transform a writer’s life. Finding a great critique partner. Joining a community of supportive writers. Taking an eye-opening class on craft.

All of these things have happened to me in the last year or two. But one of the biggest differences in my writing life, from a decade ago to now, lies in a technological advance. That’s right: the smart phone.

Some of you may know that I can’t type away at a keyboard the way a regular writer does. Writing longhand with pen and paper is even a stretch. The only option that used to be available to me was voice recognition.

Until last year, when I started writing on my smart phone. More specifically, I send email messages to myself. Each message contains a scene or chapter, and I save it as a “draft” until I’m happy with the section. Then, I send the message to myself and transfer the section to Microsoft Word, which is the only time I touch my laptop these days.

I also lock the keyboard in “portrait” position. Believe it or not, the keys on an iPad or even in an iPhone “landscape” position are too far apart for me to handle without considerable pain.

This new method has Changed. My. Life.

Here’s why:

1. More time to write.

No more waiting for the moments when my house is completely silent. Even the sound of the shower running used to interfere with my speech recognition program. Okay, maybe that just means my shower was way too loud, but still.

Now, I can whip out my phone and write anywhere. Waiting in line, taking public transportation, lying under the sunshade at the beach. Those five minutes here and there really add up.

2. Convenience.

No more lugging around that laptop while I travel. This summer, I went on a two-week trip across the country and ocean. This fall, I’ve gone on several weekend trips in the States. My poor shoulders really couldn’t handle the heavy laptop bag. So I didn’t bring it.

Instead, I saved every chapter of my manuscript as a separate document on a word pad app on my iPhone, and I was able to continue revising my story as normal. I didn’t have to worry about leaving the laptop in my hotel room. And there were no issues with crowding my fellow passengers on the airplane.

3. Increased productivity.

Alethea-mermaid had a post this summer about how she feels less pressure to get it “right” when she’s scribbling in a notebook. Same idea here. What can be less intimidating than drafting an email? Especially an email to myself? Instead of wasting time worrying if I have the right words, I just write. And I don’t even have to carry around notebooks or loose pages or paper napkins.

My smart phone was particularly useful this past month, when I participated in — and won –NaNoWriMo for the first time. I rank my phone right up there with writing sprints and supportive mermaid sisters in helping me “write with abandon.”

4. “I’m a writer!”

The biggest advantage of the iPhone method is that it makes me feel like a writer. Yes, I got used to voice recognition. I became proficient at linking my brain to my mouth. But I never became truly comfortable with dictating my crappy first draft words OUT LOUD, even if there was no one else in the room.

Some writers are auditory learners. They prefer to hear the words rather than read them. Others don’t mind dictating their thoughts.

Not me. I love the written word. I love to sit in a moment of quiet contemplation, with the text on the page as my only company. Now, with my iPhone, I can finally write the way I’ve always wanted.

If you’ve never tried writing via smart phone, I urge you to give it a try. You might just fall in love.

I’ve written my last two novels this way. With the continual advance in technology, who knows  how I’ll write future novels?

What is your favorite way to write? In what ways has the smart phone changed your life? Who else desperately wants the iPhone 5 as a present this holiday season?