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Make Your iPhone a Writer's Notebook
by Lisha Cauthen
Return to Writing Tools & Technology Issues · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version
You can do a lot more with your iPhone than fling birds at pigs and
Make it a writing tool.
Writers have always struggled to capture their fleeting genius,
especially when it comes at awkward moments. Sometimes you come up
with a perfect character name, chapter title or premise while at
your day job. Maybe you want to whip through a paragraph of your
WIP while in line at the DMV. Don't depend on a misplaced notebook,
lost scrap of paper or sweaty palm. Catch your thoughts with the
one item you're almost never without: your cell phone.
If you use the Notes app that came with your phone for writing
memos, it's pretty much the equivalent of scribbling your pearls of
wisdom on gum wrappers. Here are some apps more tailored to a
writer's needs. I've categorised them into Simple, Bells, and
- Lumen Note
- A virtual scratch pad for when there's no time to categorize your
thought. Just get it down. Lumen Note saves it for reference on
your laptop, later.
- Documents Free (Mobile Office Suite)
- Bare bones. Write text. Stick it in a folder. The end. Can sync
with GoogleDocs for backup.
- The free version has space for 24 ideas; the paid version has
unlimited space. Enter the title of the project, and then flesh it
out as much as you want. Werdsmith will keep track of word goals in
percentages, moving finished projects to a "briefcase." No backup
- Drop each idea into its own notebook. Then color-code your
notebooks, perhaps by genre, age group, fiction/non-fiction,
submission market, etc. Set deadline reminders. You can organize
your notebooks by date, title or color, and if you still can't find
what you're looking for, there's a search function. You can share
your brilliance by SMS or e-mail, and can back up your information
on Scatterbrain's cloud.
- Microsoft OneNote Mobile for iPhone
- You must set up a Windows Live SkyDrive account ahead of time, but
then you'll have all your fantastic ideas backed up automatically.
And the app itself comes up fast on your iPhone, very clean. You
can add photos if you wish and the notebooks are searchable.
Pictures are a great way to archive information. Photograph pages
in research books at the library instead of photocopying. Shoot
pictures of historical plaques or business cards. Snap an
inspirational scene, a person who looks like your villain, the
house your main character might live in, a turn of phrase that you
love on a sign. (But, writers, we have to be careful not to be
This app takes a little work to grasp. Once learned, NoteMaster
captures notes or pictures, and lets you annotate over the picture.
Bullet, number and checklists are available. You can also sync your
stuff to GoogleDocs.
Each idea turns into a notebook where you can toss in text,
pictures, sketches and video. Your notes are automatically
geotagged at origination. While Scribe doesn't back up your
information, it's simple to email the whole package to yourself.
Not all creative brains wrinkle the same way. That's the beauty of
writing, and that's the beauty of apps. Here are some with special
- Jot it Down!
Can't get over the itch to write things down? This is the app for
you. Choose a color background or use your own photograph. Then
select a pen color and width, and write with your fingertip. E-mail
yourself or post to Facebook or Twitter. Very. Simple.
- MyScript Memo
Jot your idea down with your finger. Then you can convert your
script into typed text and Gmail it to yourself. You can also leave
your information in script if you like, and make sketches. SMS,
Facebook, Twitter, Evernote compatible. I have to say, I thought I
had a wizard in my phone when I saw it convert my handwriting to
- Verses -- a notebook for creative writers
Okay, picture book peeps and poem people, this one's for you. Comes
with a rhyming dictionary. Yes, indeed it does. Never get slowed
down in the midst of perspiration/inspiration again.
- TinyVox Pro
TinyVox Pro "tapes" your recordings and files them in mp3 notebooks
that look suspiciously like cassette holders. These can be short
memos, interviews, concerts or ambient sounds. Maybe there's a
conversation going on behind you between some teens whose voices
you would love to capture. (Again, watch the creep-factor.) You can
also open the files and add to them. Then you can store them in
SoundCloud, e-mail them, post them to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr,
etc. very user-friendly.
And the Grandaddy of Them All...
Takes a little time to learn, but you can make a note, put it in a
notebook, tag it and search it. You can add a voice memo and/or
photos. Searchable, sendable. And your notebooks will be accessible
from your Evernote account on any device you give access
to--computer, phone or tablet.
New apps hit the market every day. Most are of a negligible price,
and often go free for limited times. Find the one that fits your
needs. Don't let your genius slip away.
Copyright © 2012 Lisha Cauthen
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Lisha Cauthen is a YA writer of novels for guys that girls like to
read too. She is a card-carrying KS SCBWI AdCom member, Sunflower
Scoop Editor, HWKT Bon Vivant, and iPhone apps diva. You can find
out more about her at: http://lishacauthen.wordpress.com
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