Apps and writing whilst on holiday
a blog written by Squonk of the Nightshade
You're in the middle of nowhere, the heavens have opened and you're stuck miles away from the nearest Costa. You reach for your phone and find the chances of you accessing the internet are as remote at that moment as walking on Mars. I mean platting fog would be way easier. At that moment you're isolated and alone, wishing you'd had the foresight to prepare for the trip rather than throw a few clothes in your bag and pick your phone up.
One of the best things I ever learned from the scouts was to 'Be Prepared'. I have been caught out too many times with the wrong equipment and so I've learned to at least make sure the electronic devices in my life work. I always make sure I'm never far away from the apps that I like to use as a writer.
There are a few apps that I always have close at hand that help me to write or give me the inspiration.
Reading is the main reason I'm a writer. All those wonderful worlds created by the authors of my childhood, Narnia, Hogwarts, and Middle Earth gave me the inspiration to write my own modest efforts. I still read voraciously, sucking in influences from new authors, classics old and new. It's the best way to explore new vocabulary, see new ways to imagine plots and relationships. Whilst I still love the printed works, the smell of books is unique and one that curls my toes up with anticipation, but ebooks are a quick and easy way to devour more books. Apps like Kindle and Google Books have a great advantage as they let you move from tablet to phone keeping your place in a book all the time, the ultimate digital bookmark. The range of free and cheap books on both services is amazing. If you're unsure of your internet connection when away, it gives you the option of downloading each book before you go. For those with iProducts they might want to check out iBooks in the app store. (Apart from my trusty MacBook, I'm an android boy ;) )
If you want to check out the latest works by the world's finest young writers, then always have the Movellas app installed & ready to go online to read all the great books. There's a great catalogue of good stories and poetry to look for. If I may be so bold as to suggest you try out mellowdramaticllama, Molly Looby, or Christine H for stories and Lia Is A Panda and Mercury Chap for poetry. There's thousands of others though, so be sure to check Movellas out!
Writing on the move is always difficult, especially if you're driving ;) (do not try it), as sometimes you don't have your favourite writing program at hand. I personally like to use Scrivener, but this is difficult unless my MacBook is at hand too. On the move, my tablet has the word app loaded. It allows me to access documents from my onedrive, if I have a connection, or save locally. It's quite a full featured program and one that is ok to use. Of course it's better to use a tablet, but it serves its purpose when the muse takes me. The advantage of Word is the multi-platform support and most people are familiar with using it. Google docs is a good alternative and most people have storage via their gmail account. There's still the problem of spelling, sorry spelling, and finding that synonym without access to Ms Google. I came across an android app that had an amazing offline dictionary and thesaurus. There are others around and I guess you can search for the one you like. Don't forget if you get back online to back that brilliant story up as soon as you can. Dropping your device in the sea or a lake is a traumatic experience enough without you having to recreate a story you wrote the night before.
As well as the writing and reading apps, I also need a few other apps on my phone. Some like music ones, Google Play, iTunes, or Spotify help me relax and help cut out the world when I'm writing. Music is essential to my life and I can't be without. I make sure my phone has an adequate mix of music for those times when a signal is over the horizon. I also consider Evernote an item I go to daily. It allows me to keep notes, track what I'm writing and keep all my plans together. To help relax Netflix is great or Amazon Prime video. Amazon lets me download stuff in advance so that I have shows and films with me when I'm 'off the grid'.
I always carry a 'tech' bag with me when I'm going away, be it for a night or a week. It has everything I need to survive and carry on working. As well as having spare chargers and cables, how many times have you been caught out by leaving that cable at home, it also has a large battery pack to keep my phone and tablet going for more than a weekend. My trusty MacBook takes up room as well as spare memory cards for the camera and that copy of The Silmarillion that I will get round to reading ... one day. Topping it off is my ever present notebook for making those essential notes and doodlings.
So all in all, there's a lot to get ready even before I pack my clothes, which inevitably will be stuffed into what space is left the morning I leave. There's loads of alternatives to the ones I've listed. I'm a digital butterfly in that I try out new apps regularly, nothing is sacred, but these are the ones I've settled on at the moment. I'd be interested to hear what others use and how they cope with being on the road and still writing.
For updates and reviews check out my blog.
We'd like to thank Squonk of the Nightshade for writing and sharing this awesome blog with us!