Posted by: Doug | July 19, 2012

Using Computer Tablets for the Writer

I’VE WRESTLED WITH THIS QUESTION, approaching it more out of curiosity than out of need due to my interest in computers, gadgets, and software. As a matter of full disclosure, I am the developer of The Writer’s Scribe software: submission-tracking software for the writer, more on that later. So, over the past number of months I’ve watched my weekly writer’s group change. Everyone had some allegiance to the paper books. After all, we all grew with them. But then, we had all converted over to laptop computers long ago, with one hold out waiting until this past year. So I’d say we were intrigued.

Book Reader

eBook readers, they’re the future, right? So we’d best get used to them. Well, the reality is that we all enjoy reading too. So they first became our new “books” for reading. It was an easy jump. Despite limited budgets, most everyone could afford one. Now, some eBook readers may not be considered a full Tablet computer so they won’t do everything a Tablet can do, but they’re a start. So, step one: if you’re a writer then you’re also a reader, and using a Tablet computer for reading books is a win.

Reading Your Work

The second step in the evolution was to read aloud. Many read a passage from their recent work to the group for support, feedback, and in many groups, for critique. The winner here is still the laptop computer. The runner-ups though are paper, and an eBook reader. Since you can email a PDF file to yourself, it’s easy enough. There are other solutions, including connecting a cable to your laptop computer to move the files, with third party software to convert your files into a suitable format. You may also use iTunes to move documents, typically PDF files, to the Kindle application. The downside to all this is that you cannot make edits to your work, you can only read them.

eBook Publishing

The third step for many has been the transition into publishing on eBooks. You enter into the self-publishing debate, but if you have short stories and want to develop a fan base with some samples of your work, this is one way to do it. I recently attended a get together where the group shared their experiences and know how to get some of their work published on Amazon’s Kindle. I wouldn’t say it was trivial, but it was doable, and again, a Tablet computer was useful.

Applications

I’ll cover one last step, which is the use of applications on a Tablet computer. Now, for this use, the particular platform makes a difference. Here’s a short list of good applications on the Table for a writer:

  • Text editor – use a Bluetooth keyboard and actually write with it.
  • Web browser – do research with it, surf the Web.
  • Dictionary – enough said.
  • Google Earth – travel to that far off land, and make it believable.
  • Submishmash – check on your electronic submissions sent to this service.
  • Blogging software – update your blog.
  • Dropbox – move files back and forth between your computer and other mobile devices.
  • The Writer’s Scribe – track your submissions and keep a copy of all of your work (the actual documents), always available for viewing or sharing.

As Cloud computing becomes more prevalent, we’ll each think more about our work, and worry less about the mechanics of where it is stored. We’re not there yet, but the Kindle synchronization capability is a good indication of where we’re going. Whether I’m on my computer, my tablet, or my phone, my world will travel with me.


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