Do you write on your phone? How does it not drive you mad?

BlackBerry Q10

In a recent post in the How I Write series over on Barnes & Noble’s Book Blog, author Lauren Oliver mentioned that she wrote most of her first novel on her BlackBerry. This isn’t wholly surprising given how we’ve heard about phone novels for years now (and even seen some published). But when I recently tried to get some writing done on a BlackBerry I found it more difficult than it should be.

The BlackBerry in question is the Q10, which I reviewed not too long ago. It has a physical keyboard, so I tried hard to write some of the review itself using the phone. While the keys are fine and I eventually got used to them (with fingernails it’s difficult), most of the words I typed on the Q10 I threw away later. I just never got into the flow enough to produce anything good enough to publish. I had the same trouble with both fiction and non-fiction. Not to much with emails, status updates, and other other mire businessy things BlackBerries are good for. All of that flowed just fine.

Part of my problem likely stemmed from my inability to type very fast on the Q10. As I said, having nails adds difficulty. Then I started to wonder if the issue went deeper than that. A few weeks ago I interviewed author Andrea Hairston for a podcast I’m putting together. We talked about how our brains work different depending on whether we’re typing or writing with a pen/pencil. For artistic types, writing by hand may be a necessary component of the creative process since it activates different areas of the brain than typing. I wondered if that might also be true for typing on a full keyboard vs typing on a tiny, phone-sized one. And, consequently, if it’s possible to train yourself to be more creative with a tiny keyboard by working at it.

I used to need to write all of my fiction first drafts by hand. Over time, I was able to write first drafts on a computer and just let the words flow. I still use writing by hand to open up my brain and put myself in a zone when I’m working out how a scene will go, just not for the actual words. I wonder what would happen if I started using a phone keyboard to write creative stuff that isn’t my main writing (fanfiction, for example)? Would I eventually be able to get into the flow, even only using my thumbs?

I’d love to hear from writers who do creative work on phones or other devices with tiny keyboards. What do you use? How long did it take you to get used to it? What is your ideal tiny writing device?

  • khaalidah

    I don’t have a smart phone (I know last of a dying breed) but I used to write on my iPod. Since then I developed the over forty presbyopia and it is a challenge. Also since then my son gifted me with a Nexus7 which makes viewing my writing easier. I typically write on my computer but when sudden inspiration hits, like in bed at night, I can grab my Nexus7, throw down a few words and save it to my Google Drive or Dropbox. Know what? I’ve recently noticed that oddly, I actually get more quality writing done in that way.
    I think its all about how we train our brains. I used to need to hand write to get the juices jump started, now that I’m so much more digitally entrenched, I can’t recall the last time I’ve done that. My weapons of choice are my Nexus7 with my computer as a close second. As an aside, I’ve just had to replace my laptop and writing on the new machine hasn’t been as fluid.

  • Wendy Bradley

    Back in the nineties I used to have a psion organiser which I used to write fanfic on during my commute into London by train. I really miss it! (The psion, not the commute!) Now I use the notes facility on my iPhone to capture midnight ramblings but mainly by growling “Siri, make a note…” I also have My Writing Nook installed which I use when I’m overcome with Story and not near a computer. Wx

  • Pingback: Do smartphones make good writing tools? | Writing Tools Podcast()