As no doubt you ragged-yet-noble few who visit here regularly or follow me on Twitter will know, I have a night job I work at alone. Though not without its downsides (The scope for office flirtation is pretty much limited to winking at the drinks machine for instance) one perennial upside is the fact I can squeeze a couple hours writing into a shift, at least on a quiet evening/morning.
Trouble is, it’s all too easy to forget to take along my laptop in the half-somnambulant scrabble to leave the house. Often I find myself using a notebook or, worse, a sheet of A4. Okay, so words are being generated in that scenario, but then I have to type up all those words on my days off. For me, that’s a time-eater and a mental distraction when I’m trying to push through the first draft of a novel.
But, hey: I never forget to take my phone to work. Who does?
So I got me thinkin’. And then I got me Googlin’ and, after a bit of researchin’, I got me Amazonin’-purchasin’…
Three days later my Microsoft foldable keyboard had arrived! I immediately synced the keyboard with my iPhone 5 and have been using it for a nearly a week now. Honestly? I haven’t looked back.
It’s clear to me now that all I ever wanted from a laptop was the ability to crank out wordage. Editing and formatting I can do on my Mac at home, web browsing I can do on my phone. Now that might not be everyone’s life choice but it’s mine and it’s one that happens to make a standard laptop surplus to requirements.
Plus I can’t shove a laptop into my coat pocket (with space to spare for my e-cig). There’s even been times this week where I’ve left the house, found I’ve time to waste in a cafe or some such then realised my ‘laptop’ is in my pocket. Simple creature I may be, but that truly delighted me. I could be productive where normally I’d have just surfed on my phone to pass the time.
The Microsoft keyboard is pretty bloody good for what it is. It’s solid and simple of design, has surprisingly good key depth and I haven’t had to recharge it yet. The downsides are I have to place it on a flat surface (Hardly a disaster. I write on a desk at work and most cafes have tables as I recall) and the keys are smaller than what I’m used to (but only by about 10%). The real culture shock is in having a bisected spacebar, what with the keyboard’s central fold. So far, however, I just use the right side bar and proceed as normal.
So, yes, I hit the wrong keys decidedly more than usual, thus I clock up substantially more typos each session (I just did one now!) but, as I said earlier, I fix all that on my desktop machine later.
My software, such as it is, is Apple’s note app. Yes, you read that right. No fancy fonts or anything much beyond plain text. But, hey, does the job. Note has a feature where I can instantly mail what I’ve written to myself. Then it’s copy and paste time when I come to my desktop (No cloud account for me!). A friend of mine has recommended I get a free app called Bear, which is like Note but also comes with a word counter and a few other odds and ends. I might give Bear a shot but, to be honest, I haven’t had a chance to look yet.
Another plus: once I’ve arranged my phone’s leather case so its screen displays in landscape I’m loathe to pick it up and run through my twitter timeline or what-have-you. With a laptop I was constantly taking breaks on my phone. Now, once I’m down to business I stay in business. I even turn off my wifi before I begin. That’s done my word count no end of favours.
So, all in all (thus far) I’m one satisfied customer. For just under forty quid I’ve got myself a highly portable word-processing beastie, one that keeps my nose to the grindstone. I’m even talking myself into getting a new phone with a bigger screen some time early next year. Sure, if you edit a lot as you draft then maybe a phone-and-foldable isn’t for you, but if you want to clock up sheer wordage and are happy to edit the rough-hewn matter later on in front of a desktop then I strongly recommend you take a punt.
And, er, that’s about it really. Have a good day.