My iPad

Posted April 29th, 2012 by Candice

There’s a little iPad envy over here.  All those smart-looking people with their paper-thin tablets, swooshing.   Who wouldn’t want to swoosh and have magical things happen? 

If I had an iPad, that one neat square-ish package would let me swoosh from e-mails to birdwatching apps to “Mad Men” to my grocery list to Anthropologie  to Facebook to Etsy to my blog to an e-book . . . I could do this stuff on my phone, too, plus take cool pictures.  (Don’t think I haven’t considered buying an iPhone just for the camera, Instagram and Hipstamatic.)  I could do so many things.  So so so so many things. 

But not much work.

It’s the same with the Net on my clunky old desktop computer, really, only without the swooshing.  I only mean to check my e-mail.  Or Google a fact.  Click, click, click.   Fifty clicks later–book reviews, a meatloaf recipe, gorgeous turquoise shoes I couldn’t wear in a million years–I don’t know where I am or what I was looking for originally.  I may have even blacked out.

Similar situation with the computer I only do my writing on.  Type, type, type.   That sentence looks good.  No, wait.  Fix the ending.  No, move the back to the front.  No, get rid of it.  What about the paragraph above it?  It’s looking a little puny.  

Sit, sit, sit.  At the end of the day I’ve advanced my book a whopping two sentences.  My neck hurts.  My butt died three hours ago.  Some days the writing goes great–I barely notice the time flying by.  But many days are like this one, tedious, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.   I feel tethered to the keyboard.  Switching to my laptop is no help.  I’d still be prone to chopping and channeling.

My work asks me to write and write and write and if I sneak over to the Net to play a little, the work gets peeved.  Something is wrong.  Is it me?  The work?  The fact there’s no swooshing?  An iPad is not the answer.  If I got one, I’d be tethered to the iPad.

It’s the shape of my day.  I’m giving too much time to my work (yes!).  I’ve let it off the leash and it’s running wild and dragging me behind it.  My favorite writing instructor, Heather Sellers, says writers need structure to contain their work, a shape.  Instead of stating, “Today I’ll write chapter three (or else),” say, “Today I’ll go over my notes for chapter three and write the first scene.”   Put a square around the work, let it know it has a fence to deal with.

Last week, after one of those endless keyboard sessions, I dreamed of a clipboard with a box-like thing beneath to hold my work.  Do they even make such a critter any more?  Yes, they do.  Staples had mine in blue and in purple.  Also one in aluminum that would make me feel like the UPS man (not a bad thing).  Another with a calculator on the clip, though I didn’t like the idea of staring at numbers. 

Inside there’s room for my tablet, my journal, my pen.  That’s it.  I can pick up this square-ish clipboard and carry it everywhere, iPad-like.  To the sofa.  To my favorite diner.  With my trusty clipboard I can write by hand!  I’m less inclined to fix and fiddle and more encouraged to follow one slow deliberate sentence with another and see where things go.  

Plus I don’t have my entire book with me.  Not all those computer files to flick back and forth between.  Not all my three-ring binders or research folders.  Only what I need to do the writing within the square.   

My blue clipboard writing-box never needs charging.  Doesn’t need updating.  If I drop it, it’s not the end of the world.   Yeah, I love my homemade iPad.  Even if it doesn’t swoosh.


8 Responses to “My iPad”

  1. Melodye says:

    As one who also tends to wander, I like the idea of a “fence.” And I’m enamored of your new iPad. It’s as practical as it needs to be, with a teensy touch of swagger. (The notebook inside is adorable!)

    • Candice says:

      There actually is such a thing as too much time . . . I write better when I have a deadline, or when I’m cramming a project between other projects. Unfettered, not for me. I need a leash! And you can get one of those charming iPads at your local Staples! I see you in purple.

  2. As one who often feels enveloped by work, I like the idea of a “fence,” too. In my case, the fence must have a gate to permit me to escape. I do envy the cool, crisp look of an iPad which is so seductive. But your version of the iPad has a great advantage for me – FOCUS. Do you mind if I am a copy cat?

    • Candice says:

      It helps to draw squares around your work day. I have a square for household chores (very small one), square for morning writing work, square for afternoon writing work. Better than a list which we never seen to get to the end of, and keep transferring to the next day…Run to Staples and grab a blue or purple iPad!

  3. Melissa G says:

    You crack me up – “My butt died three hours ago.” I think my butt died while sitting on the ground to watch Titanic.
    I get what you are saying about structure. I seriously need a bit of that.

  4. Candice says:

    I have never made it all the way through that movie! I fall asleep! I keep having to relearn this principle–manageable chunks. And then break them down into even smaller chunks, crumbs, even.

  5. Michelle says:

    “Similar situation with the computer I only do my writing on. Type, type, type. That sentence looks good. No, wait. Fix the ending. No, move the back to the front. No, get rid of it. What about the paragraph above it? It’s looking a little puny.”

    I always have cautioned myself not to use my computer to write while my wireless is on–like you mentioned, too many distractions…like meatlof recipes. But I have never thought about the negative impact of the editing ease that writing on the computer gives me. Writing a first draft is hampered when I can change things too quickly. Thanks for calling my attention to that!

    • Candice says:

      Michelle, I love working on a computer (have since 1982), but there are drawbacks. The blinking cursor on the screen “prompts” you to hurry, think up the rest of the word, sentence, paragraph. It’s hard to ignore when it’s waiting! Writing part of your draft, like the first part or any place you are stuck, by hand allows you to steep yourself into it, unrushed.

Leave a Reply