On The Go Writing

6:37 AM

This is a writing post for all of my fellow writers. As many of you know, it can be tough finding time to write, especially if you have a full time job. We all lead busy lives, and sometimes it's just easier to say, "I'll write tomorrow because I don't have time to today." I have said or thought this more times than I care to count. As a full time English teacher, I often only have time to write on the weekends in between grading papers.

Now that it's summer, I'll have more time for writing and more time for trying out different writing habits. One of my unofficial summer goals is to develop writing habits that I can maintain not only during the summer but also throughout the school year. To that end, I've decided to try some different On the Go writing apps.

On the Go writing apps allow you to write without being stuck behind a computer all day. This means that you can get more writing done than you normally would. You can write  (if you're not driving) or dictate your writing during your morning commute, while you do the dishes, walk the dog, fold laundry, etc. Basically, any time that you could be listening to an audiobook, you also could be using an On the Go writing app to record or transcribe your thoughts.

From the research I've done into On the Go writing apps, there seem to be three different types.
1. Writing/Note taking
2. Voice to Text
3. Voice Recording

There are many writing/note taking apps that you can download to your smart phone, tablet, etc.  Here are the top three I've used.

My iPhone came with a Notes app already installed. It's easy to use, though I'm still faster typing on a computer than I am using a tiny keyboard on my phone. A nice feature of Notes is that you can create folders to store your different writings based on category.

Google Docs
Because I use Google Docs to create a lot of my teaching documents, I also downloaded Google Docs to my phone (free). Though I haven't written many stories using Google Docs, I may use it more now that I can use it on the go. Google Docs also works great for collaboration, so if you ever want to work with beta readers, critique partners, or co-author something with another writer, it might be handy to have Google Docs on your phone, tablet, etc. I haven't tested out the collaboration features yet on my phone, but if it's the same as using it on the computer, it should be fairly intuitive to use.

The last writing/note taking app I have on my phone is the Wattpad app (free). If you're unfamiliar with Wattpad, it's a writing website where writers can upload their work for readers around the world to read for free. So far, I've only published one short story on Wattpad, but I plan to publish longer works as I finish writing and editing them. Wattpad is a great place to meet other writers and readers and to get feedback on your work.

I'm sure there are plenty of voice to text apps available to download to your phone. However, the only one I've tried is Dragon Diction (free). You may have noticed by now that I'm only including free apps in this post, and that's because I know most writers and readers spend much of their paychecks on buying books.

Dragon Diction
I've heard from countless people that when it comes to using Dragon Diction, you need to take the time to train your dragon (which sounds totally cool in a fantasy context).

Training your dragon, when it comes to Dragon Dictation, means you have to let your dragon get used to your voice and the words you use. In addition to training your dragon, I've found that you also need to train yourself on how to use your dragon. For example, you need to train yourself to say punctuation where you want it to appear in the text.

Here is an example of how I talk to my dragon.

Me: Quote Why would I go to Atteris question mark They'll throw me in jail the moment I get there period It is just a ploy to get me to surrender without a fight period quote

Here is what my dragon typed after listening to my dictation.

Dragon: "Why would I go to address? They'll throw me in jail the moment I get there. It is just a ploy to get me to surrender without a fight."

As you can see, my dragon didn't recognize the word "Atteris" and so changed it to the word "address." Atteris is not a word in the English language. It's a name of a city in my story. Because I write a lot of fantasy, I think my dragon is going to have a hard time getting names of people and places correct. The main character of that same story has the name "Cyndra" and my dragon keeps changing it to "Sandra." One way that I've found to get around this problem is to spell out the name. It gets a little annoying to spell it out every single time though.

In addition to saying punctuation, I've found you also need to say "new paragraph" whenever you want your dragon to, you guessed it, start a new paragraph.

I've only played around with my dragon a little bit since getting it. I tried taking it on a walk yesterday (I love the image of trying to take an actual dragon on a walk, he he) but found that the combination of the wind and my movement caused my dragon to miss entire sentences I said. What I ended up with was a garbled mess. I'm a little disappointed that I won't be able to take my dragon on walks because I think it's important to exercise and what better way to exercise than to write while you exercise?

Though I won't be taking my dragon on walks, I think I'll still use my dragon when I'm away from my computer and want to write. The nice part of voice to text means you don't have to fiddle around with typing on tiny keyboards. A possible downside of using voice to text apps is that people around you will be able to hear what you're saying and you may get some strange looks. At least when you're typing, people don't know that you're killing off characters in horribly gruesome ways. Also, a lot of people don't like their first drafts to be read by other people (or quite frankly to let them see the light of day) so they might not like letting other people, especially strangers, hear them composing their fist drafts.

Using a recorder to record your voice is nothing new. In fact, many writers have been recording their thoughts via tape recorders for a long time. The Voice Recorder app (free) is nice to use instead of a tape recorder because it's one less thing you have to carry. Most of us carry our phones with us everywhere so it makes sense to use a voice recording app on our phones rather than having to carry our phones and our tape recorders.

Voice Recorder
I was determined to find an On the Go writing app I could use on walks, and the Voice Recorder app I downloaded onto my phone was just what I was looking for. I took it on a walk today, and, despite the wind and the rain, it was able to pick up everything I said and didn't miss a single word (unlike Dragon Diction). So far, I've only used the voice recorder to talk through some plotting ideas for my next writing project, but I'm going to try composing while I talk as well. I love being able to record myself talking through my ideas. Then I have a record of my thought process that I can listen to later. I've heard many people suggest talking out your ideas or plotting problems with friends so they can ask you questions and you can answer them. If you don't have that option and are stuck, I think asking yourself questions and answering them while recording yourself is a good secondary option. Of course, just like with voice to text apps, people are going to think you're weird for talking to yourself. Then again, we writers are used to being called weird.

In addition to being able to talk through my ideas I also found myself more willing to consider different ideas because I spoke in a stream-of-consciousness type way of what I was thinking.

A potential downfall to voice recording yourself composing your writing out loud is that you will have to listen to what you said and type it out on your own. It's an extra step that you wouldn't have to take if you used a voice to text device.

What writing apps do you use? How do you squeeze more writing time into your day?

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  1. I admire anyone who squeezes writing in amongst busyness!! YOU ARE AMAZING! I need to sit down and write in very focused huge blocks of time. So like I'll write aaaaall day for a week and then not again for a few months. :P Which definitely doesn't work for everyone! But yus. That's what I do. I think the dictation sounds really interesting! And I love the apps that are available to make writing easier for us. :D
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. Wow, your book writing binges sound intense! I'm impressed:) Thanks for reading!

  2. Very cool (and helpful)article I shared it on Twitter

    1. Thank you! I'm glad to hear you find my list helpful.


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