My Writing Process — Blog Post #2
At the same time I was working on the project to bring together my recliner, workstation and dual monitor swing arms, I wanted to be able to write a lot. After many delays, I really wanted to start writing my book. During this same time, I got an iPad. One of the iPad apps, Notes, is a very simple text editor. I wanted to be able to write anywhere I was and the iPad was much more portable than my PC with its dual monitors. I bought the wireless Apple keyboard for the iPad. This made it much more efficient than using the iPad touch screen. I also bought a shoulder bag so I could carry the iPad and the keyboard with me anywhere I want to go. The size and weight of the iPad and keyboard are so much less than a laptop, let alone a PC with monitors, that it really became practical to write anywhere. I also setup iCloud for Notes. This meant that anything I typed in Notes was backed up automatically in the cloud and could be accessed from my PC as well. I could make changes from my iPad, my PC, even my iPhone, and those changes would be saved to the cloud and the updates would appear on all my devices. This setup was obviously great for writing, but, it was also great for making notes, recording ideas, outlining, keeping track of edits and any other task that involves text.
I didn’t set out to get an iPad for writing, but once I started using the Notes app with the wireless keyboard, the ease of use, the portability, and the automatic backup and synchronization across all my devices made it indispensible. More importantly, it made writing so easy to do, anywhere I wanted to, that I could write at any time. The traditional view of the writing process is that you must be hidden away, in complete isolation, where you can only write. In the extreme, you have to go to Canada and hole up in an abandoned resort just to get any writing done, and even then you may still be a very dull person! I like being able to write anytime and anywhere. Many evenings I like to write while watching television. If it is a nice day, I can take my iPad setup outside. On a flight to London I was writing in my seat in economy. There are some times when I want and need to be alone in a quiet place to focus on my writing, but that doesn’t happen often.
I was happy with the iPad and wireless keyboard, but, for my book project, I had an additional requirement. I had taken many pages of handwritten notes, from my therapy sessions, that I needed to refer to while I was writing. I put each page of notes in a page protector to make sure they didn’t get damaged. I had all these pages in a binder, organized by date. I was also concerned that I didn’t have a backup copy of all these notes, and these notes were the source material for my entire book. As I looked through all these pages, trying to decide how to organize it all, I had a thought. I could scan all the pages of hand written notes and organize them into one or more PDF files. Then I could email the PDF files to myself and view them on any of my devices. These PDF files would also be my backup of the notes. After the scanning, I wouldn’t have to refer to the physical pages of notes again.
I did scan all the pages and copy all the resulting images into several Word documents. I then saved the Word documents as PDF files and attached them to an email. I could look at these PDF files on my iPad or my PC. This was pretty cool, but there was a new issue. I needed to look at the scans of my hand written notes while I was writing, but the iPad could only display my writing in Notes or the PDF file at one time. I had to switch back and forth. I didn’t like this.
This may all seem to be way to much detail for a simple problem, but, my story is more important than you may think. It sounds silly that I didn’t want to switch between apps on my iPad, but this is important. My writing process needed to be easy, so easy that I had no reason (excuse?) not to write. I needed to write a lot, consistently, if I was ever going to get my book written.