Steph's Wordplay

My thoughts on reading, writing and all things word related.

Archive for the category “Writing Tools”

Writing Tools – Pen and Quill

At the end of December, after I had decided on my “writing every day challenge,” I found an article on Lifehacker describing a new iOS app for Pad & Quill. They make these really pretty cases for iPhones, iPads and the like and then added software to the list. It sounded like a really nice little app I could use for my journaling, so I downloaded it to give it a try.

On its face, the app is gorgeous. The notebook covers look like notebooks (much like a Moleskine, actually). There are several designs by default and you can get additional covers, as well as additional fonts, through an in-app purchase. To open the book, you just touch the cover and it opens to a blank page. Buttons across the bottom allow you to reach the Table of Contents for navigation, the fonts, a way to insert photos and delete function. A plus sign at the top of the page allows you add additional pages. Data can be synced to your iCloud account and accessed on both iPhone and iPad devices.

I very much enjoyed the application at first. The pages are clean and neat without distracting nonsense. You can even go to full-screen mode and make the small buttons at the bottom disappear. I used it for the entire month of January for my daily journaling habit.
I had several complaints as the month went on, however. Chief among them was performance. The more pages I added to my journal, the slower it became to sync and to even open the notebook. There were several terrifying moments where I thought I’d lost what I had just written, because the pages would go blank, only to reappear minutes later. About halfway through the month, I started having to coax it to add new pages. Then it would add one, but I couldn’t type on it. I sometimes repeated days because I couldn’t see them save. Sometimes it would freeze up and I couldn’t see the buttons. And forget trying to pull it up on my iPad when I’d been working on my iPhone. The delay to sync from the cloud to the new device was crazy.

And please note, I was doing this on a Wi-Fi connection at home (not over cellular) and my daily journal entries are a couple of paragraphs at best. I’m not writing “War and Peace” every night to chronicle every waking moment.
I also found I liked the idea of capturing other things besides just the date. This is probably super nerdy, but I wanted to capture the weather and maybe the mood I was in and other little shorthand items like that. I suppose, yes, I could have typed in the weather, but I’d really rather have something that did it for me.

I considered also using the app for story ideas or notes or random things I wanted to jot down. However, I found it annoying that I couldn’t rename the notebooks to what they contained. They all say “Notebook” across the front and it’s not editable. You could, I imagine, color code them, but I’m terrible about remembering stuff like that. I also thought to perhaps create a title page in each one, but you can’t insert pages out of order and I’d already started the journal notebook with simply my first entry.
Too late, of course, I realized I have no way to get at this data other than through the app. There’s no export function or anything like that. So now I have a month’s worth of journal entries in an app I don’t like and there’s not much I can do about it.

So, while it is truly a lovely app to look at, the performance issues were really just too much for me; I decided to abandon the app at the end of January.

Next up on my list is an app specifically designed for journaling (maybe I get a “duh” for not trying that first) called Day One. Apple fans will likely know about this one as it’s extremely popular in that ‘verse. No support for Windows folks, sorry! I started using it as of the first of February and it’s been lovely so far. I’ll update again at the beginning of March with how I’m liking it.

What do you use for journaling? Pen and paper? An app on your phone? A website? Let me know in the comments!


Writing Tools – Index Card for iOS

First, let me say the writing every day thing is hard….and it’s only been a few days… 🙂

Yesterday’s writing amounted to jotting down some ideas for future blog posts and thinking through some possible plot points for my fanfiction. Today I hope to make up for it with this and some actual writing on my fanfiction (instead of just thinking about it).

My note-taking yesterday prompted the idea of this post. I’m all about cool apps for my iPhone, so I was excited to see one that might help me organize my writing. I’ve tried about a zillion different ways, but none of them have been exactly what I wanted. This one is shaping up to be The One. I hope…

The app is called Index Card. There are versions for iPhone and iPad (sorry Android folks) and so far, I am loving it. Basically, it’s meant to emulate index cards on a cork board (although you can change up to a plain background). You create a project (ex. Blog Posts) then create cards underneath with a title, a synopsis, then a larger notes section. It’s got plenty of export and backup tools to allow you to edit anywhere, as well as integration with Scrivener. 

So far, I’ve been using it to keep track of possible plot ideas for my fanfiction, as well as ideas for blog posts. If I’m not sure what I want to do, I can just put in a title to jog my memory. Or, as I flesh things out, I can add more and more notes. With the sync to Dropbox as RTF, I can pull them up even if I don’t have my phone handy (when is does that ever happen?).

I’m finding it’s more easily organized than the random notes I was making in random docs on Google Drive (where I do most of my writing). They can be easily reordered to create a flow and are quickly editable. I’m still doing outlines as needed as a doc on Google, but the bits and bobs of ideas I have seem to work much better on these cards. 

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