I’ve never been much for writing on my cell phone. Okay, maybe Instagram posts or text messages — but nothing approximating real work. Not my book, not blogs — I don’t even write emails using my phone if I can help it.
But there are good reasons to try using a phone to write. For one thing, my phone is always accessible, even when my computer isn’t. (I always carry paper and pen with me, but opening an app is even easier than fishing them out of my bag.) But I also find it useful to change up the way I write sometimes; switching from writing on a keyboard to writing by hand can change my thought process and get me out of a writing rut.
The real reason I’m trying writing on a smartphone right now is pretty lame: I said I’d get a blog out today, it’s already 10 p.m., and I don’t want to get off the couch to grab my laptop. But that’s another benefit to writing on a phone — it’s one less barrier between me and the writing.
In a quest to give this my best shot, I checked the internet for tips on writing on your phone. Here’s what it had to say:
Write in Google Docs (or any app that syncs with a desktop version)
This made a lot of sense to me; I was going to write in Notes, but switched to Google Docs so I could write, rewrite or edit on my computer if necessary without having to copy/paste out of notes and email my document to myself.
Type in Landscape Mode
This drove me crazy. Maybe I’d get used to it after awhile, but I hated this so much that I gave up after about a minute. I ended up typing like I text, in Portrait Mode. I’m sure an attachable keyboard would make typing easier, but that seems to defeat the purpose of writing on my phone because it’s convenient. (If I were typing on my phone because I didn’t have a laptop, though, that would be a reasonable choice.)
Edit on a Desktop
This held true for me. Writing on my phone was okay; editing was annoying. I like to copy/paste a lot and rearrange whole sentences and paragraphs when I edit, and that’s a lot easier on a larger screen.
What Did I Learn about Writing on a Phone?
One of the more interesting things I read about writing on a smartphone is that, weirdly, it’s less easy to get distracted by your phone. This seems counterintuitive, but it turned out to be true for me, too. The phone was less tempting when I was holding it than when it’s sitting beside me while I’m writing on my laptop — I never once opened Instagram while typing this, and I put off returning two text messages that came in while I was writing. I don’t know why, exactly, but writing on the phone helped me to ignore the phone.
The other huge benefit to writing on a phone, obviously, is that its convenience allows for fitting small writing sessions in throughout the day. We’ve all heard some form of the advice that doing a little bit consistently yields better results than doing a lot sporadically. For those of us with long-term writing dreams, inching ahead one smartphone paragraph at a time might just be the way to reach our writing goals — whether they’re to write a blogs or books.
So, is phone-based writing for me? Probably not; at least not usually. I didn’t enjoy writing on my phone like I enjoy writing on my computer. And my thumb is tired. But I’ll probably use my phone a bit more to write parts of blogs or books — to capture ideas or paragraphs when I’m thinking of them, or when I have a few minutes in line, instead of waiting until I’m at my desk.
Carrie Rollwagen is cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books and host of the podcast Everybody Hates Self-Publishing. She hopes you’ll read as many books as you can, and that you’ll get them all from your local bookshop or library. You can find Carrie on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter @crollwagen.