Who Else Wants to Take Writing on the Road This Summer?

FlatironsI’m writing this blog post in the shade of a Ponderosa Pine, on the Upper Bluestem trail in the City of Boulder’s Mountain Parks. I can hear half a dozen different kinds of birds whistling, twittering, warbling, screeching, and cawing–all to the musical background of one very happy poodle’s panting. Insects buzz and the air smells of sage, carried to me on a deliciously cool breeze. (Yep, that picture above shows my current view!)

Ribbet collage

Even though the parking lot was overflowing, the trails have been peaceful. I passed a half dozen moms with babies in those little front pack carriers and a troop of elementary kids clambering over (and into) the deep ruts left by the flooding we had a year back. Sitting here, surrounded by waving grass and wind and birdsong, I can feel the week’s stress evaporating.

I’ve gotten pretty good at taking my writing on the road–or trail–with me. Earlier this summer, I took writing on a backpacking trip to Zion National Park. There I spent 5 days hiking and camping, taking photos during the days and transferring notes to my iPad in the tent after dark.

I haven’t always been the write-everywhere gal, though. I used to stick to my desk. It seemed that every time I tried to take a project elsewhere–say, my local coffee shop–I’d end up forgetting something.

Or batteries would die in a key device.

Or I’d need a power outlet when none was available. Can you say…


You can’t beat the inspiration provided by a change of setting, though, so over the years I’ve assembled some “best practices” that make such outings more successful. In fact, now taking writing out the door is relatively stress-free! I’ll cover the first 2 best practices this week….

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Tuesday Ten: Fave iPad Apps for Writers

I’ve been traveling for the past week, on an “official” writing trip (weird, I know), and it’s made me acutely aware of exactly how much I use my iPad.

This is partially because I have an ENORMOUS laptop, so large that it’s practically a desktop machine. I needed something that could handle multiple PDFs, PowerPoint files, and web browser windows without crashing, and this one had a big screen (great for reviewing graphics) and a great price. So it’s wonderful for working at home, but not so wonderful for toting on an airplane. Or to the local coffee shop, for that matter.


But my iPad…well, that lasts hours on the battery, connects to the Internet wherever I can find WiFi (no, I didn’t pay for the monthly 3G service), and has enough memory to store every book I’m considering reading, plus every PDF and Word document for every project-in-progress, plus every app that I might or might not use.

Yes, perusing the app store is a favorite time-waster for me…which means that the number of apps on my iPad considerably outnumber the apps that I actually use. On the other hand, it means that I’ve sampled lots and lots of different applications, and can weigh in on which are the most beneficial for my fellow writers.* Here’s my list of absolutely must-have apps for writers:

1. Kindle (FREE). This one probably goes without saying, but just in case…if you have some kind of tablet device and you’re a writer, you MUST have an e-Reader. It doesn’t have to be Amazon’s Kindle application; Barnes and Noble has a Nook app, Apple has an iBooks app, and there are probably a hundred other out there as well. An iPad gives you the opportunity to carry hundreds of books with you. This is the perfect solution for those of us whose books take up more room in the suitcase than our clothes. Don’t have the cash for an extensive library of ebooks? Download free classics from the Guttenberg project. Watch Amazon for free book promos–they often give away the first book in a series, in the hope that you will be so hooked that you’ll buy more. (Yes, this has worked on me, but I’m weak. You’ll resist, I’m sure.) Or check out authors like Corey Doctorow, who give away their books in electronic formats as well as selling digital copies.

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