Writing on the iPhone

I recently composed a short story, “Garlic in the Air,” entirely on my iPhone while I was at work. Why the iPhone? Primarily because I was having some issues with my wrist and what might be some mild carpel tunnel issues and the iPhone didn’t aggravate those symptoms. Because I’m using Writeroom on my phone, my work is automatically backed up to the Simpletext servers, which I can then access on any computer with web access or on my home computer which has a Simpletext application that syncs a local folder with the server. I don’t think I’d write stories on the iPhone if I didn’t have that kind of syncing capability.

But what, I can hear you asking, is the process like writing on that little touch-screen keyboard? Not great. I certainly can’t type as fast as I can on a keyboard and it’s even slower than writing on paper. However, I’m not sure that is always a liability. Having to slow down a bit makes me consider my words more. It means that I am paying slightly more attention to the individual words and sounds than I might otherwise. I type moderately quickly, somewhere between 65 – 80 wpm depending on the computer and the ergonomics. Often, this speed means that I’m typing the first thoughts as they come into my head and stream through and are then gone replaced by the next thought and the next thought. Being forced to go slower means that each thought gets additional . . . well, thought before being committed to pixels. Also, I’m learning to ignore errors more on the iPhone and keep going because it’s much more tedious to fix misspellings on the iPhone than on a computer or even by hand. The truth is that when I misspell something I don’t have to fix it while I’m writing since it’s easy enough to fix later. Yet on a computer, I’ll break my train of thought to go back and fix any word in read I see. So, while on the one hand I’m slowing my thoughts down, I’m also training myself to keep moving forward instead of breaking out of the flow of the story to fix the mechanics of it.

Would I sit down and attempt to write a novel straight through on the iPhone? No. But because of Simpletext, I’m thinking of routinely writing first drafts of stories using either Textmate or Writeroom and saving them in my Simpletext folder so that I have them accessible wherever I go, whether that is on another computer or my iPhone. Scrivener remains my choice for longer projects, and as a place where I may very well import short stories after a draft or two, but keeping it simple with plain text files and a server that provides access wherever I go is making me rethink the tools and workflow I use for short works and early drafts.

If you’d like to read “Garlic in the Air,” you can find it at The Dueling Quill.

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