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You Tell Me: Do You Have an On-The-Go Writing Solution?

I got an email this morning from Astrohaus, and it got me thinking about writing while on the go.

Astrohaus is a startup that makes a couple pricy devices under the Freewrite brand. The first model weighs eight pounds, costs $550, and launched several years ago, and the second model (the Freewrite Traveler) costs $369 and is expected to ship next month.

The Freewrite are pitched as distraction free writing devices, but it would be better to describe them as frigging expensive digital typewriters. You can use them to draft a new work but you cannot use them to edit, proof, research, or do most types of writing like sending correspondence.

I would never buy one, but this morning’s email did get me thinking about the tech I use in place of a Freewrite, and that got me wondering about you.

Tell me, what is your solution for writing on the go?

My solution is an iPad plus a Bluetooth keyboard, and it came about almost as an accident.

I had originally gotten the keyboard a couple years ago to use with one of Onyx’s 13″ ereaders as a mobile writing solution, only to stick it on a shelf after that combination of devices proved to less than ideal. (While the ereader ran Android and looked like a tablet, it proved to be far less capable.)

I pulled the Bluetooth keyboard off the shelf this spring after I found myself taking only an iPad to conferences. (The limited functionality of an iPad really improved my concentration by keeping me from doing all my regular work).

I know I am not the first to combine an iPad and a BT keyboard, but the great thing about this combination is that I can write or edit any number of documents in Google Docs while also staying on top of my emails and taking notes during a panel. And since I don’t have FB or Twitter on the iPad, I can keep from getting distracted by social media.

My mobile writing solution cost me the same as the Freewrite Traveler, and does about fifty times as much.

How about you? What is your solution for writing on the go? Pen and paper? Smartphone? Alphasmart?

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Xavier Basora October 20, 2019 um 7:34 pm


Pen and paper. Writing digitally on the subway us a hassle. The old fashioned way works quite nicely for me.
It also let’s me concentrate on thecwork


Scott October 20, 2019 um 10:23 pm

Chromebook is my go-to writing device, with Simplenote (blog posts) and Google Docs (stories) my software. Simplenote on my iPhone is what I use when I don’t have the Chromebook. I also have Scrivener on the iPhone.

MarkW October 21, 2019 um 1:11 am

My "on the go" writing setup is my phone (Moto G7) and Google Docs with a 1st gen Apple Magic keyboard. I use GD since I can continue when I get back to my "real" computer. What makes all this possible is the stand. Yeah, it makes a BIG difference. This is after years of looking for the best combo. I have a MacBook Air, Chromebook. iPad, Samsung 10″ tablet, and many more. It’s the phone and the keyboard and a stand like the Nulaxy stand. People come up to me all the time asking what it is. I simply say it’s a phone, a keyboard and a stand. They nod. The final piece of the puzzle was my Hermitshell Hard Travel Case to put the keyboard, stand, extra batteries, battery pack, cables, and alike into a nifty kit for on the go computing. I can just put it all under my arm when I go to my favorite writing haunts and I have everything I need.

Henry Vogel October 21, 2019 um 11:14 am

I’ve used an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard in the past, but lately I just use a 12″ Macbook. It only weighs 2 pounds, and runs all my writing software. It’s a more expensive option than the iPad, but a little patience let me get it on sale for two thirds the normal list price. That’s still more than the iPad, but it does more than the iPad, and is useful at my day job in IT.

Kit October 21, 2019 um 11:36 am

Just an iPad, using the digital keyboard. I keep all my notes and things in google docs, and I’ve gotten really good at using the digital iPad keyboard.

Chuck Dee October 21, 2019 um 11:58 am

Surface Pro or Samsung Galaxy and Bluetooth Keyboard when I don’t have that.

Roland J Denzel October 21, 2019 um 1:59 pm

I guess I’m old fashioned, but I use my 13″ Windows laptop which is only 2.6lbs and actually works on my lap.

Bill Smith October 21, 2019 um 5:42 pm

The Alphasmart Neo or Alphasmart Dana is a bullet-proof, distraction free "on the go" writing device with fullsize keyboard. Neo runs on 3 AA batteries and lasts about 200 hours, can store about 80,000 words. Dana only lasts about 25-30 hours on 3 AA batteries, using the old Palm Pilot OS, but can store data on SD cards (up to 1 GB), so effectively unlimited storage. Incredible keyboards but the screens are small. Great for writing in plaintext with markdown formatting codes. Normally can be found for $25-30 on Ebay.

Also, pen and paper.

My 11-inch Chromebook is not bad, although the keyboards is not as good as the Alphasmarts.

Chuck Dee October 21, 2019 um 6:28 pm

I totally agree on the alphasmart’s promise, but I couldn’t make it work in my workflow.

Nate Hoffelder October 21, 2019 um 10:43 pm

I loved it and continue to love it –

But I never actually used one to really write. I just couldn’t make it work for me.

Danny October 22, 2019 um 7:09 am

I’m old school. I have a nine-year-old Acer Aspire1 10″ netbook (remember those?) running a stripped down version of antiX Linux. I used a program called Insync to synchronize my Google Drive and convert the Google Docs format into ODT for use with FocusWriter. Insync then converts everything back to Google Docs and uploads it. The 1 GB of RAM keeps me off a modern browser and away from distractions, and the stripped down Linux system keeps the after market battery going for several hours between charges.

S. J. Pajonas October 22, 2019 um 11:43 am

I have an Alphasmart Neo and I love it. I use it all the time for writing on the go.

Kevin October 26, 2019 um 2:41 am

My problem was trying to make use of my extensive bus/train-commute time, which often involves standing. The commute provides a surprising amount of time, but is bad for extensive typing, though notes and short stuff are perfectly doable. I finally started using the time effectively by putting outlining software on my phone. (I confess I didn’t know "outlining software" was an actual category — basically a limited type of mind mapping software.) Trains are ideal places to stare off into space while you think, then jot down a note on your phone, and repeat 20 times. This is exactly what you want to do when thinking about how to make and organize something like a table of contents. And the software allows you to later reorganize the contents by moving section titles into different locations. All done one handed. 🙂

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