Why the iPhone is Perfect for Writers

Last year I submitted a piece by email to my local newspaper for Op-Ed consideration, and then left for a four-day bachelor party in Florida.  When I was able to see straight again at the close of the trip, and got to an Internet connection, I saw that I had received three emails from the newspaper’s Op-Ed editor.  She had wanted to run my piece in the Sunday edition but needed to talk to me about it, and all she had was my email address.  I frantically called her Monday morning, but it was too late.

Missing a publishing opportunity because of missed email was a bitter pill to swallow.  I swore it would never happen again.  You might be thinking that I could have avoided the problem by including my cell phone number with the submission.  But then I wouldn’t have this little story.

Getting an iPhone solved the problem of the missed email.  But I’ve discovered two other advantages that have improved my life as a writer.  It allows me to take notes without looking like I’m taking notes, and it allows to me read without looking like I’m reading.

For years I carried around a little notebook.  If I thought of something, I would write it down.  The problem was that people sometimes acted funny when they saw me taking notes.  “What are you writing?” they would ask, or “Are you writing about me?” or “Can I read what you wrote?” or “I’m going to take that notebook when you are sleeping and read it!”  That kind of attention affected my prose.

With the iPhone, however, they don’t know I’m taking notes.  They think I’m just texting or, better yet, playing a video game.  Sometimes I angle the device this way and that to make it look like I’m racing a car.  And as soon as I’m done recording my thoughts, with one tap I can email the notes to myself for later use, with no crumpled up receipts to clutter the coffee table and spark an argument.

Reading books in public used to be a problem, too.  Bringing War and Peace to the dinner table was generally interpreted as rude, no matter which translation.  One evening as I dined with family, I noticed that someone was holding his iPhone under the table to watch a YouTube video of washed-up celebrity chefs falling down flights of stairs.  I asked my fellow diners why he was allowed to watch a video, while I was not allowed to read.  Everyone stared into their mashed potatoes.

The message was clear.  There was a double standard for new technology and old.

The iPhone has made it possible to read at the dinner table again.  I read books on my iPhone and everyone thinks I’m on Facebook looking at wedding pictures of people I don’t really know.  Attending parties with a book, even a book that had received good reviews, always met with stares.  Now people just stare at their devices, as I stare at mine.  Just like with the notes, an unacceptable rudeness masquerades as an acceptable one.

And sometimes when the party’s over, and the potato salad scraped off the plates, and I’m back in my room, alone, I pick up a notepad and a book…and find them both a little heavy.

What’s your experience been?  How has an iPhone (or similar device) changed your life as a writer?  Or are you still carrying around a notebook and getting weird looks?

11 thoughts on “Why the iPhone is Perfect for Writers

  1. Fantastic post! Especially: “I asked my fellow diners why he was allowed to watch a video, while I was not allowed to read. Everyone stared into their mashed potatoes.”
    I love my iPhone and definitely agree that it is perfect for writers. I use the Notes app to jot down ideas (although I suspect I could find a better one out there if I took the time to look for it), and accessing reading material is so much easier with apps like iBooks, even just using Safari to access web pages and blogs.
    The notebooks still sit on my desk though, and I must admit if a pen and paper is in reach, I often find it easier to scribble something down then tackle the autocorrect on my iphone.

    1. I agree that the autocorrect can be frustrating. But a lot of times it saves me so I forgive it. Glad you love your iPhone. Thanks for the comment!

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. I’m the worst to responding to emails now because I read them on my iPhone, start to type a response, get frustrated with Fat Finger Syndrome or get angry because I’m not really trying to say my niece looks so bologna in her cute little swimsuit, then decide to respond later on the computer and never think about it again.

    Same with the blogs I subscribe to.

    But then again, I am slaughtering my sister in Words with Friends.

    This took me five solid minutes to type up on my iPhone.

  3. First of all, Words with Friends is another addiction. JButt, we must discuss your handle. You know, so we can play a game of strictly blog related WWF…IYKWIM.

    Mark, I’m sorry. Was I ignoring you? As a mommy, I hate when people bring their technology to the dinner table. That said, I’m with you. The iPhone has allowed me to post blogs from beaches and I never miss an email.

    But seriously, would you have enjoyed the bachelor party if you knew you had a deadline looming? A little isolation can be a good thing. 😉

  4. I got a smartphone with email being a major reason why. I also discovered some added benefits. One of the places I used to secretly write things down was in book stores. I would just, you know, check out certain titles later. (yes, I’m aware that I am part of the downfall of certain bookstores. I’ll stop when I’m rich and can live with myself paying $23 for a book that’s on Amazon for $3.)

    Notes on the fly is great, and my phone makes it that much easier. Checking my blog though is the real delight. I can now approve comments from anywhere at anytime, and that’s a great service to people willing to finally leave that first comment!

    1. I know, real books are so much more expensive. Sometimes I see books that are barely 100 pages long retailing for $25 and up. It’s depressing that bookstores are closing, but what’s a person to do? Go without food and shelter?

      Good point about responding to blog comments. How could I have forgotten that?

      Sent from my laptop

  5. I still use paper maps, carry a lunch box, use a Bakelite candlestick phone, and make most of my food from scratch. Hell yeah, I’m still writing in notebooks and reading actual books! 🙂

    I did get a phone with a keyboard so I could make notes for myself when I don’t have pen and paper handy, but I find it very frustrating so I generally make sure I have pen and paper at hand.

    I realize that I’m painting myself as something of a Luddite, but that’s really not what I am. I do like technology but not for its own sake. For that matter, I don’t like tradition for its own sake, either. I choose the tools that serve me best for a clear, specific need. (Okay, maybe the Bakelite phone is just pure nostalgia! But it’s just so cool!) So far, I have found that I don’t have a clear, specific need for a smartphone, so I don’t have one. I may get one eventually, if I decide that it’s the only tool that can help me move forward professionally, but as of this writing, it hasn’t come to that.

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