Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Increase Your Word Count By Writing With Your Cell Phone

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

I was never much of a cell phone user. My husband had one, but I didn't need one for myself. Until I started traveling a lot, and my husband felt I should have one in case of emergencies. So I got the freebie phone, which was a phone that masqueraded as a smart phone. But it was not smart. At all.

That didn't matter. I didn't need a smart phone for emergencies. But as time went on and the Square credit card reader came out that could enable me to accept credit cards at events, I began to want a smart phone. So when my contract ended last month and Verizon offered a free iPhone with a new contract, I got one.

My new phone looks like this, but with a Tardis background.

You might ask: "What does this have to do with writing?"

Well, I quickly discovered that my new toy had some nifty features. I can email myself, write notes and email those notes to myself, and I can use the microphone to dictate emails or notes, which I can also email to myself. And I can copy and paste from those emails right into my Word document. This enables me to write in places I've never written before.

I conducted an experiment last weekend with my new phone. I had a trip to Idaho for a homeschool conference, and I wanted to see how many words I could write while away from home. Here is a log of my efforts:

The night before I left, I wrote 331 words of a dance scene with the notepad on my phone while sitting in the living room with my kids, who were watching a Disney channel sitcom that I did not want to watch.

When I awoke at five o'clock the next morning and couldn't go back to sleep, I typed 209 words of a kidnapping scene into the notepad.

I wrote 841 in the car on a long drive to Idaho using the microphone dictation feature into a note.

I typed 395 words into a note the next morning while sitting around waiting to leave for the conference.

I dictated 200 words on the drive home.

And I typed 357 words into the notepad last night while Brad watched The Bourne Identity... again, and I half watched.

So that's a total of 2333 words that I wouldn't have written without my new smart phone. It's not a ton of words, but I liked how it added up.

Stephanie has done several 100 for 100 challenges. Typing 100 words into a cell phone isn't that difficult. And if you can dictate the words, it goes even faster than typing, though it does take a few minutes to clean everything up once you've pasted into Word. I love whipping out a couple hundred words when the scene plays through my head. One negative, even with my phone synced with my car so that I can use the overhead speaker, the dictation feature doesn't always work and I didn't like having to look at the phone while I was driving. (Not a safe thing to do.) Still, using my phone to write has already become a new part of my writing life. I love being able to do this. It's so convenient.

Have you ever used your cell phone to write? Are there any other non-traditional methods you've used to up your word count? Share in the comments.

37 comments:

  1. Good idea, Jill! I might try it sometime soon, although the voice thing is REALLY bad on my android. :)

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  2. My phone is one of those that masquerade as a smart phone but is isn't, but I use my android tablet all the time. I don't use the voice option (though it has one) being more of a silent writer, but it has a "handwriting" option where I can free write in a box with my finger and it turns into text and it's really cool, especially since my brain reverted to handwriting last year when my computer crashed and I went without for a few months, and I haven't been able to convince it to fully embrace typing again.

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    1. Wow, that handwriting thing is really cool.

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  3. I love using my Phone when I'm on the go. When I travel I usually go by train or bus, and do not Always have the space/time to have notebooks and everything with me so I use the notebook function of my Phone instead; whether to make notes of ideas or to write down full scenes as they come to me.

    Welcome to the world of Phone Writing Jill!

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  4. I write on my cellphone all the time since I found out handwriting for me feels like a chore more than pleasure. I even used the Note App to write half of a novel without use of a computer. I never actually finished, I was at my peak amateur writer stage, but still. And since I found a Microsoft App that connects with Microsoft Word I can write directly on my Word document, save it, then go on the computer and keep going.
    Oh how I love living in the digital age. Lol

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    1. Do you mind sharing what app that is? Sounds cool.

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    2. Ooh, I didn't know there was a Word app. Cool.

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    3. @Sofia Maria
      If you look up Microsoft in the App Store it should be the first one you see, but I believe it only works if you have one of the latest Microsoft Office and make an account with the One Drive.

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  5. nope, I've never tried it. I'd probably just get annoyed at my IPad, lol. I don't really like typing... I always write down stories in my notebook first. My mom said there is this pen that after you write you plug It into the computer or something... I want that for Christmas :)

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    1. That pen does sound neat, Emily.

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    2. Oh yes those pens are really helpufl. I use it to avoid Always having to type/use the mouse of my computer as I need it so frequently for school as well :) Helps avoiding sitting in the same position writing all the time!

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  6. I use my iphone all the time, the bus, when my computer is scanning or being updated, when I am at my friends house. I really love it. When I restyle on my computer I go ahead and edit a bit and I end up with a more complex scene.

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  7. I've used my ipod for writing--especially during 100 for 100. :P It is pretty convenient, and I also write random plot ideas on my ipod. :D

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    1. Yeah, I bet an iPod would work the same way, huh?

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  8. Nice idea, but I don't have a cell phone. LOL

    Sometimes I do jot down notes on my iPod and that is really nice for ideas I get in the worst places. :P But even if I had a smart phone, I don't think I'd dictate stuff...when I was younger and a slow typist, I used to wish our computer would let me do that, but now I'd die if I did that and someone happened to hear.......so, ha, no.

    Also, I sometimes scribble ideas on napkins, bookmarks, science tests, even *coughmyBiblecough*. And sometimes, if for some reason a notebook or my document isn't working for me that day, I'll work on the scene in an email to myself. For some reason that helps occasionally? :P Hey, don't ask me!

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    1. Whatever works, is what is important, Amanda. I used to write on anything I could find too. And I suppose if I can't find my phone, I still will! LOL

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  9. I use my iPad, especially when I'm on vacation. The Pages app works very nicely and even has a feature to display the wordcount. But iPads aren't very portable...I should try using my iPod sometime.

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    1. The keypad is much nicer. I hate typing on that little keypad.

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  10. This is one of the reasons I'm(hopefully) getting a smartphone next week ^^ (and I'm going to name it Iko. Just throwing that out there XD)

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    1. Ha! Love that. Maybe I should name my phone...

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    3. Most of my friends have named theirs.

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    4. My current phone is named Breadcrumb(loooong story). I love naming random items. It's so fun.

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  11. Hello Mrs. Williamson, I have a writing question. I am working on a time travel novel (Well, i haven't officially started yet, lol...) And i was wondering if it is okay if they were to accidentally drop into another fantasy world (Narnia, Middle-Earth, Er'Rets, etc.). Would it be okay to use the characters from those worlds? I got that idea, but i wanted to make sure that is wasn't infringing on any copyrights.... It probably is, but it is better to know before you start! :)

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    1. Yeah, it is infringing on copyrights to use those particular worlds. You can write the story for fun, but if you were to publish it, you'd be in trouble. Legally, you can only use material for which the copyright has expired. A copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the author. So that's 2043 for Tolkien, 2033 for Lewis, and, well, I'm sill alive. LOL But Marcher Lord Press/Enclave owns the By Darkness Hid books. So if I were to die suddenly, they would own them for anther seventy years, then the books would be public domain.

      So if you want to do your idea, you'd have to use older stories, like fairy tales and such. Austen and Bronte's works are public domain now.

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    2. Okay, thank you. I really hope you don't die soon... and let's hope i get published before 2043!! :) If i decide to do that, i'll look for older ones. That was just one of my VERY random ideas....LOL :)

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    3. I believe Oz is in the public domain. Just a starting point suggestion.

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  12. I don't have a phone, but I occasionally use my Kindle Fire. I got a word processing app that allows me to save things as word documents and email them to myself. I don't like typing on a touch screen, though. I'm hoping to get a bluetooth keyboard at some point to make writing on word trips easier (my Kindle can plug into a car jack, but my laptop can't).

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  13. I use my smart mp3 player for writing quite a bit. I found an app called "Writer" which was free and allows me to create a basic text document that is stored in the phone's memory. It works out great! It's been nice to be able to jot down ideas or get some writing in when I'm out.

    ~ Kayla

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  14. OH that's a fabulous idea!! I don't have an iPhone so I can't really do that...but I've heard of people dictating and it being hugely successful for them. I wonder how I'd go?! x) I guess it'd help if you were dictating, to see how the words flowed and everything?!

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  15. I have definitely done this! I find it very helpful during the 100 for 100 challenges when I almost forget to write that day, I can set reminders and also just type a hundred words into the notepad and then put it in my Word doc the next day.

    I go to the OYAN Summer Workshops (third year -- I'm so excited! :D), and although I learn a HUGE amount every time, I don't really actually /write/. I mean, I get lots of ideas and notes and critiques to apply later, but for actually putting words in the current draft of my novel? Nope. I think I shall try some of this this year though, and see if I can't get a few words written every day between hanging out with friends and sitting in sessions, and stuff. :)

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  16. I use my phone to write all the time, though I haven't tried to dictate yet. I do most of my writing on my iPad through the Google Drive app instead of on a computer. It's smaller and easier to carry around the house (I move around and try different locations while I write. Outside is my favorite). For short stories I do a lot of hand-writing inside pretty tri-fold notebooks.

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  17. Not exactly non-traditional, but I find that using typewriter helps me write. It's inspiring, but also doesn't tire my eyes out, as there is no screen to look at.

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  18. Yes! I've been doing mobile writing for years! I avoid the notes app though, because I can be so bad about moving stuff out of it. My favorite apps for mobile writing are Google's Drive and Docs apps ( Drive for viewing files, Docs for editing them. Which is a little silly cause it used to be one coherent app, sigh.)

    Docs comes with pretty much all the basic formatting choices writers need, and since it's Google Drive you can open the same exact file up on your computer or tablet later and see what you wrote while waiting in a long line, or riding in the car, etc. I'm the type of writer who sometimes has to look over earlier work on a piece to verify something, so seeing everything I've worked on so far (whether on my laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) in front of me is a nice feeling.

    I've written thousands and thousands of words this way. No hassle, usually no syncing errors, and you can set specific files to be editable even if you don't have a connection, and to sync when you regain one. It's also great for collaborating and viewing something in realtime with friends and partners, though they will need a Google account, obviously. Also, file version history! This pretty much cuts out the emailing self step entirely.

    (I just have lots of intense writerly feelings for google drive don't mind meee) (has similar feelings for evernote)

    Random, but I'm pretty sure Lauren Oliver wrote Before I Fall on her phone, using the email-to-yourself strategy.

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