My Writing Companion

With much enthusiasm – and no shame – I contribute to the Weekly Photo Challenge using my worst photos ever. This week’s topic is companions, and despite the lack of viable photos I have to do a shout-out to my beloved writing companion, my iPad. I recently wrote my novel Scar Jewelry on my iPad, and now am close to finishing a first draft of my fantasy detective novel Frames.

With my iPad I write on my patio on a balmy sunny night. With my iPad I carry my words and ideas around just about all the time, keeping them in the glove compartment in case I get a spare moment to write. And with my iPad I can slip over to play a few games and think things through subconsciously when my writing gets stuck.

Below are my writing apps in action. I wasn’t sure that screen shots should count as photos so I snapped these photos with my phone. Hence the unforgettable quality.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using presentation slides instead of notecards.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using Keynote’s presentation slides instead of notecards.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mindmap software Poppplet.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mind-map app Poppplet.

The writing itself I do with Pages.

The writing itself I do with Pages.

21st Century Notecards

Warning: I really geek out during this post! But I supply these details in case they help another writer who wants to leave notecards behind.

When I first started writing, each novel would have an inches-thick stack of notecards. I taped cards to a wall and removed or X’ed them as the writing advanced. The advantage of notecards, of course, is that it is so much easier to add, reorder, and scrap when a single idea exists on a single page.

Even though I was an early adopter of computers for every other stage of writing, for a long time I still needed the heft and tangibility of the note cards for planning.

I wanted to switch to digital planning long before I actually did so. I tried a number of apps and softwares designed for organizing ideas (mind maps and stickies and To Do list kinds of things). They didn’t work for me.

Then I tried presentation software, and that has allowed me to replace notecards with slides. Nowadays, I plan my novels on Keynote on my iPad… unless I need to do wholesale reorganizing. When that happens, I convert the file to Powerpoint and work on my computer, because if I need to move a lot of stuff around, I want a mouse and Microsoft’s “light table” features (where all the slides can be seen at one time) are more versatile than Keynote’s.  I adore my iPad but editing on an iPad induces pain.

P.S. To plot the bigger, broader, arcs and trends of a novel, I am fond of a software called Popplet, which lets me put ideas in small color coded boxes, move them around, and connect them.