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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Reasons to Love Writing…

Reason #1: Writing is awesome!!!

Reason #2 (this week’s SPECIFIC reason): Last week, I was in Florida for research on two separate projects. Yes, this counts as work.

I spent one day at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce talking with scientists, looking at photographs, and touring one of their research sites.

Marsh OrgansLizard Dude on Mangrove

I spent two hours the next day sitting VEEERY still among the mangroves in order to observe crab behavior…

Aratus pisoni

…and I spent another three hours at the fantastic Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce Ecosystem Exhibit observing captive fiddler crabs and talking to their wonderful staff.

If you love to learn new things, if you love to meet amazingly cool people and learn amazingly cool things, writing lets you dip your toes into a thousand different fields. I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position to talk to scientists who know the ins and outs of various topics and ecosystems, and then to translate what I learn for young audiences. Of course, I’m talking about nonfiction writing, but the same goes for fiction. Where does your story take place? What sort of characters does it involve? Your role as a writer gives you the opportunity to slip into someone else’s shoes for a bit.

It’s an incredible amount of fun…and rewarding as anything I’ve ever done in my life.

What about you? What makes you delighted with YOUR writing life these days?

Charlotte Rains Dixon, Writing Coach

I shared yesterday that I’ve recently started with working with a writing coach, and that I’ve found it incredibly beneficial. Over the next few weeks, I will bring you interviews from a number of different writing coaches.

My goal: to help you, dear readers, understand what a writing coach does. And who knows? Maybe you’ll decide it’s time to give yourself the gift of coaching, too!

I’m delighted to introduce…Charlotte Rains Dixon!

I got to know Charlotte as a blogger, whose blog boasts the magnificent moniker Word Strumpet. Her blog is a delightful mix of inspiration, thought-provoking craft and process tips, and—of course—spunky enthusiasm. She’s perceptive and funny at the same time which, IMHO, is a perfect combination for dispensing nuggets of wisdom.

Plus she has the most magnificent tagline—fall in love with your writing, your life and yourself—it makes me smile every time I visit her site. I know she’ll make you smile, too! Enjoy…


How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?

Honestly? I think that all writers can benefit from working with a coach. I come out of the brief residency MFA system, wherein you are assigned a mentor with whom to work one on one. This is very similar to the coaching relationship, and when you have one person devoted to your writing as well as helping you make sure you get to the writing, magic can happen. But specific times that you might want to consider engaging a coach’s services are when you are blocked; when you are having a hard time getting your work out in the world; or when you feel like you are mired in the middle of a project and can’t seem to find your way out.

What sort of goals or skills do you work on with a client?

The beauty of the coaching relationship is that it is completely directed by the client. I don’t come in and impose goals, I follow the lead of the client. That being said, I will obviously make suggestions about which of your skills need sharpening and so forth. We may work on techniques to get you writing more regularly, or specific areas that need improvement in your writing, or, and this is what happens most often, both.

What lies outside the client/coach relationship? (For example, writing craft, providing critiques, organization, motivation, goals, psychology)

None of the above. Everything you mention is part of the coaching relationship. I believe strongly, that as goes our writing, so goes our life. If you’re writing regularly, the rest of your life could be falling apart and on some level you’d be happy, because you’re writing. And this level of happiness carries you through everything else. So, to me, writing bears on everything and all these aspects need to be addressed.

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The Writing Coach: Is One Right for You?

This past November, I gave myself a gift: I started working with a writing coach. It felt like a ridiculous luxury, and I’m still not certain how I convinced myself to leap. Maybe it was reading this article  by Kendra Levin, Viking editor and certified life coach. She challenges writers to undertake their own “hero’s journey” and

  1. Set one writing goal
  2. Choose one thing to sacrifice for writing
  3. Choose one gift to give yourself as a writer

I’m not sure, frankly, what I expected. It’s hard for me to imagine that working with someone else on my goals could help. I mean, shouldn’t I just work harder, prioritize, and make progress on my own? Wouldn’t she just tell me to do the things I already knew I should be doing?

dannymolPhoto courtesy of dannymol on Flickr Creative Commons

So this was a bit of a leap of faith.

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