August 2, 2011


iA Writer new icon
iA Writer original icon
I've been blogging for four years and like to think I'm getting better. I get asked how I write so much so consistently.

Each post is roughly 500 words. I didn't realize this until last year when I started using an editor that showed word count.

How To Save Time

Writing shorter posts would save time. Google doesn't like posts that are too short. You probably want 250-300 words as a minimum. That length might work for you. I find my ideas tend to run to 400-500 words.

Use a tool that helps you focus. The iPad is the breakthrough for me. It's the right size, instantly on and portable. An external keyboard is essential. The delay between idea and typing needs to be short. That's why using an onscreen keyboard or a small keyboard on a smartphone isn't satisfying.

Speed And Distractions

Why not use a notebook computer? There are two problems: speed and distractions. Maybe it's just me but a new computer feels as slow as the last one within weeks. I don't know why. Maybe more apps are running in the background. For instance, an idea might strike you while a virus scan has made performance sluggish.

Distractions are the bigger problem. Even if you're running your editor in full screen, you'll see icons for other applications. You might get alerts when there's a new email. You might want to look up something on Wikipedia or check email for just a moment. Even if you don't, you know you could. Holding back takes willpower. The delicious chocolate chip cookies are in a jar in a kitchen cupboard ... yet they still entice.

With the iPad, apps run full screen. You can switch to another task, but that takes effort. You might as well do what you're doing. The result is focus.

The Write App

You can type using any app but a specialized writing app helps immensely. I'm using iA Writer. It's brilliant. All you can do is write. You see the word count and estimated reading time. That's it. You can even suppress them and the spelling checker. You're left with a blank page with only three lines highlighted. The rest fade are faded. This makes your focus even sharper. You edit later.

What about fonts, bullets, bold, italics? Not available. All you can do is type. The special font is large and inviting but doesn't get in the way.

If you have an iPad and are having trouble writing, get iA Writer. It may be just what you need.

Other Time Savers

Learning how to write would probably help. I'm self-taught. I (still) don't know how to type.


What’s the best way to capture your thoughts? Before, I'd jot bullet points on 5"x8" paper. Once both sides were close to filled, I knew I had enough for a blog post. This brainstorming only takes 10-15 minutes. The hassle is getting the thoughts into digital text. Sometimes I'd have trouble finding the scribbles. The solution is typing directly into your computer. That's where the iPad shines above everything I've ever tried.


I can't create diagrams with what is essentially a typewriter. That requires another app or a scrap of paper.


PS Whatever tools you use, practice helps. What a surprise!

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