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?


19 thoughts on “My Beloved Smart Phone

  1. Pintip,
    I can’t even wrap my mind around writing on my phone, but I think maybe I should try it. Yesterday I took my laptop to my son’s gymnastics practice, and I sat in my car, trying to find a comfortable position because the laptop kept hitting the steering wheel. Then when he got in the car, he tried to get in the front seat (which he isn’t allowed to do, so I never figured he would do that) and stepped on it!!! Thankfully, it’s okay. But I had a mini panic attack there in the parking lot.
    You’ll have to show me how to get set up with the writing app. I’m so tired of lugging around my laptop.
    I’m so glad you found an easier way to write than the voice recognition. Right now, I have a really bad sore throat, and I can’t imagine depending on my voice to write.
    Congrats on WINNING NaNoWriMo! 🙂
    Hope Santa brings you the new iPhone.

    1. Thanks, Kim. Congrats yourself on winning NaNo! I’ll be happy to show you. Once you get used to it, you’ll never go back!

  2. I like my iPad for this when I’m traveling, but I have a blue-toothed keyboard that serves as a case for it, as well. Pintip, your method sounds like a genius solution. I have emailed myself with ideas and snippets, but I can write in Pages on the iPad – then email that to myself to work with on my main PC. If I ever get a smart phone (hate those data plan prices!), I’ll try it your way on that, too.

    1. Willa, the iPad sounds like a great idea, too. I hope you get a smart phone. Have I mentioned that I love mine? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Interesting! I love how you have overcome obstacles to help you be successful. I would have to master that link to the phone to the laptop. For me, typing it all up is the way I touch my craft. There are some who absolutely must type it on an old fashioned typewriter. I don’t know how they do that, with revising and all. Still, to each writer his/her own. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Beth. I hear you – it is so easy to get tied to a certain way of doing things. But sometimes, when I’m in a writing rut, a change of anything will make a difference. So if you’re ever looking for a new way of writing, I hope you’ll keep the smart phone in mind!

  4. Thanks, Diana. I’m proud of you, too. 🙂 I remember first discovering voice recognition and thinking that was crazy advanced. Who knows what manner of technology we’ll be using a decade from now?

  5. You can do it, Denny! You are so close!!! And you have always been such an inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Pin, this is wonderful news, congratulations on finding a new and fab way to write on a phone! I will confess, I did draft the beginning of a Mermaid post a year or so back. I’d dragged my feet as usual, so I started the draft on the train and shot it over to Google Docs via DropBox. Danged if it wasn’t there and ready to picked up when I got to work!

    This is definitely something to try. Even bringing my ipad back and forth gripes me some time. Thanks for such an inspiring post!

  7. Thank you, Susan! Hmm…I’ll have to check out Drop Box. Sounds interesting. I hope you have a great day!

  8. Hi Pintip! I continue to be amazed by you lady. I am so proud first off that you are a NaNoWriMo Winner! Congratulations!

    I also would like an in-person demonstration of your smart phone writing method. I find it so cool that after all these centuries of great inventions, we are still coming up with new methods and technologies to improve people’s lives.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carlene. I will be happy to give you an in-person demonstration anytime! Perhaps at our next writing retreat, hurricane willing? 🙂

  9. Such a great point! I’ve seen you work at length and it’s a magical process. And I’ve emailed ideas to myself a time or two when it’s three am and there’s no paper to be had in bed. But why not type away for longer? I must try this magical thing! Xox

    1. Magical is right. One of my favorite things to do is wake up in the morning, grab the phone off my nightstand, and start writing while snuggled in my pillows. If that isn’t magical, then what is? I suppose you could do this with other writing methods, as well, but it would be a bit more cumbersome. I hope you give it a try, Alethea, and let me know how it goes! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Sorry I’m late to the party…Pintip what a great post! I have a Droid Bionic but I’m sure there are apps for it that I can use for those moments of writing. (I’m still dealing with the small fingering situation–maybe my fingers are too fat.) But still, I’m more apt to have my cell phone on me lately as I run errands and have to go places and wait for people in my car. I could be pumping out the last 8k of my NaNo while on my phone.

    Congrats to you on winning NaNo!!! 😀 Raising my cup of vanilla bean latte to you!

  11. Hi Loni,
    Yes, you certainly could be pumping out those last 8K! Hitting the wrong key is less of a problem than you might think, as the auto-correct works pretty well. It does provide pretty amusing corrections sometimes, though!
    Best of luck finishing, and thanks for stopping by!

  12. Wow, Pintip-Mermaid! That is crazy but what a great advantage of technology. I’m so thrilled you’ve found a helpful way to write. Go you!!! 😉

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