Writing outdoors – modern technology


Writing Outdoors with Hemingway

writing outdoorsI’ve always liked writing. After finishing my book, Antarctic Tears, and the film for the same, I had a little down time. Now I’m back in the writing mode and love it. But I want to be writing outdoors, listening to birds.

Being stuck inside, worried about taking an expensive laptop outside, stinks. I now have a way to write outdoors. And, I don’t have to worry about my laptop.

Backstory of writing outdoors

As I was sitting inside last month, being distracted by all the noise on my computer, I dreamt about a way to write outdoors without worry. Isn’t there a way to do it? Why yes, there is!

bluetoothI looked up foldable wireless keyboards, found that most of them had spotty records, and was discouraged. The reviews on Amazon said these keyboards die quickly. And then I’d be out of business.

Then, I thought, why not just get an Apple Wireless Keyboard? They’re actually fairly tough. They’re not waterproof or ruggedized, but they survive quite a bit. Would it connect to my iPhone 6 somehow?

Why yes…it does.

All you have to do is turn on Bluetooth, go into Settings and connect to the keyboard. That’s it! Now, instead of fiddling around with the touchpad keyboard, I have a full size keyboard to type on.

Other than short messages, screen typing is too slow. There’s no way I could type a 60,000 word book without a real keyboard. That would just be a waste of time. Now, there’s a way to enjoy writing in the outdoors.

How to hold the phone writing outdoors?

Go to the dollar store. Purchase a business card holder. Problem solved.

Word Processor choices for iOS8 for writing outdoors

writing outdoors with iOS 8 pagesWhat program to type in? Pages comes with the iPhone 6. There’s Notes. And there’s also Microsoft Word for iOS 8. After testing each, I found Pages to be the best choice. It supports the keyboard shortcuts with the OPTION and COMMAND keys on the Apple wireless keyboard the best. I use these shortcuts all the time.

Word doesn’t support whole word deletion with OPTION-DELETE. Pages does.

Granted, on the laptop, I use Scrivener for my longform writing. Long text is terrible in Pages, Word, etc. Scrivener blows both away for building and writing books. I wish there was an iOS8 version for Scrivener… So, instead, I’m writing outdoors doing the bulk of the text work with Pages, then will drop it into Scrivener as I go along.

The one silly thing is the Undo typing icon is RIGHT NEXT TO THE SAVE icon in Pages and Word. Dumb design. I’ve deleted a bunch of typed text before with a fat thumb maneuver. So be careful.

Battery concerns while writing outdoors

writing outdoors solar panelNow, I had a way to go anywhere and work on the text of my book. But I needed my iPhone 6 to last longer. Enter the solar panels I used in Antarctica. They’re rugged, small, and slow down the battery drain on the iPhone 6.

Theoretically, I could type forever. That wasn’t the case with late afternoon sun, though. These solar panels are the best there are, sourced through Humanedgetech.com. They’re expensive, portable, and tough. But in late afternoon sun, I figured out I’ll need both to keep my iPhone 6 charging. With one panel, I was able to slow down the discharge. iOS8 and the iPhone 6 are still terrible with battery life. I wish they had the ultra-low power mode of the Samsung…

Backing up your writing outdoors

writing outdoors backupSure, I’ve typed in 5,000 words today. But what happens when some glitch freaks my phone out. And then I lose all that work?

Enter Dropbox.

Once I get enough typing done, say 1,000 words, I get antsy. I want to back that text up. After being burned many times with technology going awry, I’m paranoid.

Well, as it turns out, I can upload my Pages (and Word) iOS8 documents directly to Dropbox from the application. In just a few moments, my document is backed up and I can keep writing. I can even save multiple versions in the backup, plus create a folder. It’s everything you expect from Dropbox.

iOS 8 and Pages want you to use the Apple iCloud Drive. Word wants you to use Microsoft’s cloud. Great..another thing to deal with. But I have Dropbox on my Mac. It all works seamlessly. iCloud Drive isn’t supported by Mac Mavericks, which is what I use. Dropbox is still king.

Writing Outdoors Conclusion

I’ve always enjoyed writing. And writing outdoors is even better. Writing and publishing from the field used to be tough. But with modern technology, it doesn’t have to be difficult. This setup works. And it works easily.

Note – The same setup can probably be had with Android, too.

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