Writing Advice

Scrivener for iPad is finally here!

After years (and years) of waiting, Scrivener is finally available on iOS for the iPad. Download it here

Reviews, Writing Advice

How to make an iPad your primary writing tool.

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A few years ago I had an epiphany. I said to myself, “Self . . .  I use the iPad for a gazillion different tasks, but as a writer, could I use it as my primary writing device?”

I theorized that some pioneers before me surely must have blazed a trail in this area, so researching which authors use an iPad to write their books–and how they do it–would be a breeze.

I was wrong.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find anyone who wrote a book using an iPad, nor could I find anyone even talking about the subject. When it came to word processing, authors just didn’t reach for the iPad. So, after much trial and error, I found a way to make the iPad my primary writing device in just two easy steps, and I will show you how I did it.

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Step 1 is the Hardware (keyboard):

I do all of my writing on the iPad using a Belkin bluetooth keyboard similar to this stock photo.image

I recommend the Belkin bluetooth keyboard for five reasons:
1). The battery lasts for months. Seriously, I sometimes forget that I need to charge the thing because the battery lasts so long.

2). Taking advantage of the iPad magnet feature, the Belkin keyboard puts the iPad to sleep when you close the keyboard and wakes it up when you open it.

3). It connects automatically (and quickly). If you keep the bluetooth feature on your iPad turned on, then every time you open the keyboard (break the magnetic connection between the keyboard and the iPad), the keyboard fires up and is ready to use before you can count to three.

4). The keyboard is spacious and feels natural when typing.

5). The keyboard also serves as a protective case for the iPad.

6). The iPad seats itself into the keyboard frame so your iPad and keyboard essentially become one device. This ensures that you’re never without your keyboard when inspiration strikes.

Step 2 is the Software (word processing app):

I’ve tried a lot of different writing apps for the iPad, but the one I eventually gravitated to and began using full time, is Apple’s Pages as seen here in this stock photo (in portrait mode).image

I admit, I’ve always been partial to Microsoft Word, but Pages has won my affections. For a long time I avoided Pages because of the negative reviews it received on iTunes. However, I eventually took the chance and downloaded it. Once I did, I was so impressed with it that I kicked myself for not getting it sooner.

Pages does just about everything Word does and it’s a whole lot cheaper. When I bought it the price was $9.99, but it is now available for free if you’ve purchased an iPad or iPhone within the last two years.

I am very pleased with Pages and it has become my primary word processor for all my writing needs. If you want more details on why I’m a fan of Pages, see my previous article Microsoft Word vs Apple’s Pages.

Conclusion:

The marriage of the Belkin keyboard with the Pages app makes this the perfect combination for those who want to use their iPads for writing. It was this very combination that I used to pen the words you’re reading right now. It’s also how I wrote my first book, Saving Kennedy, which contains my two short fiction works, The Visitor and Alibi Interrupted. The iPad has become my exclusive writing utensil, and now you know how to make it yours too.

Reviews

Microsoft Word vs Apple’s Pages.

imageIf you’re a writer who wants to make your iPad your primary writing device, then there’s really only two quality options when it comes to word processing apps: Apple’s Pages and Microsoft’s Word.

Below is my comparison of these apps in nine categories. My hope is that this review will be a help to you.

1). APPEARANCE: COLOR SCHEME
Winner: Word

Personally, I prefer Word’s blue and white theme over Page’s orange and white theme.

2). APPEARANCE: DOCUMENT FILES
Winner: Pages

Pages uses a thumbnail view on their document home screen, which, in my opinion, is easier to work with and visually more appealing.

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3). PLACEMENT OF FUNCTION KEYS
Winner: Word

Word places all of its function keys across the top of the document like it does on its desktop version. Those familiar with Word on the desktop will feel right at home with Word on the iPad. Additionally, Word spells out what the function tabs are (e.g. insert, layout, review, view).

Pages, on the other hand, divides its function keys between the top and bottom of its document and uses symbols (which could be moderately confusing to some) instead of words to describe its tabs (e.g. paintbrush symbol, + symbol, wrench symbol). Guessing which symbol takes you to what you’re looking for can be annoying.

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4). FUNCTIONALITY
Winner: Pages

Once you understand the functions of Pages, you will find the ease of use is similar to Word, however, I find that it edges out Word in several areas (including, for example, the next two categories).

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5). CHANGING A DOCUMENT’S TITLE
Winner: Pages

Whether you want to change the name of one of your documents once, or incessantly (I change my documents’ titles constantly; giving them a new name with each save), then Pages is for you.

When it comes to Word, however, I suggest that you pick your document’s name very carefully because you won’t be able to change it. And if there is some esoteric way to accomplish this, Microsoft has made it so complicated that you will waste precious writing time trying to figure it out and researching how to do it (like I did . . . and still didn’t get an answer).

So for ease of changing your document’s name, Pages wins hands down. And as a bonus, Pages even allows you the option to change your document’s title two ways: on the document home screen or from within the document itself (the latter being a new feature).

6). SAVING
Winner: Pages

If there was any doubt about who wins this category, it was put to rest while I was writing this article using Word because I lost it during the saving process. Ugh!

I started this article over again in Pages and saved it without a problem.image

Pages also has four formats in which to save your document:
1). Pages
2). Word
3). PDF
4). ePub.

7). FORMATTING
Winner: Word

Word remains consistent whereas Pages tends to have formatting problems with font styles when transitioning between Pages and Word. I do not find this too troubling because Pages changes your font to a font compatible with Word.

Where I have experienced the most annoying issue with Pages formatting is when it comes to quotation marks. Those pesky little things tend to show up with inexplicably different styles even within the same document for no apparent reason.

There’s ” “.

As well as “ ”.

Sometimes this inconsistency of application in quotation marks appears in the same quote. I do not understand what causes this, but it is greatly annoying.

Also, when using a double hyphen (–) in Word, it converts it to the em dash (—) as expected. Pages, unfortunately, does not do this. It remains as –.

8). COST
Winner: Pages

Until a couple years ago, Pages was only $9.99 compared to the exorbitant amount Microsoft was charging for their software on PCs. Now Pages is free to those who have purchased an iPhone or iPad in the last couple years (along with other Apple office apps like Keynote and Numbers).

Microsoft’s Word and other Microsoft office apps are now available on the iOS, but they still come with a price tag. And the cost is not a one-time fee. Microsoft requires a yearly subscription. That alone prevented me from even trying Word on my iPad after the app was released.

When I discovered that I could use a free version of Word, I gave it a shot. And even though the free version may have some limitations to its features, if you’re using it strictly for word processing the free version should suffice for your needs. Just remember, if you go that route you still have to create an account with Microsoft to use their free version of Word.image

To use the paid version, Microsoft will charge you $7 or $10 a month (depending on what you get). So you’ll be spending $84 to $100 a year—every year—for a product that Apple makes just as good (if not better) and offers for free.

9). SIZE OF APP
Winner: Pages

In my opinion, both apps are unnecessarily bloated. However, Pages takes up slightly less space on your iPad than Word.

OVERALL WINNER
Pages

I admit I’ve always been partial to Microsoft Word, imagebut I’ve grown to rely on Pages for all my iPad writing needs. It is my go-to writing app and as proof of its effectiveness, I even used it to write my first book, Saving Kennedy, containing my two short fiction works, The Visitor and Alibi Interrupted.

Has this review helped you? Let me know what you think; I look forward to your comments.