I'm planning to create a series of blog posts about some of the tools I use to make my writing life more productive. Some of them cost money, but I'm going to start off with the free ones.
You may have already seen the post I wrote about using MindMeister to build a simple, visual character map. I'll make one about using MindMeister to create a simple plot for a short story or novella too, but today I want to talk about Swype.
Swype is a free app for use with touchscreen mobile phones and tablets. You can get it on the iTunes store here or on Google Play here. It's an alternative keyboard to whatever native one is installed on your device. You can customise it and have it display in different colours depending on your own visual preferences. There are a number of different keyboard themes available including some recently released Star Trek themed and MLB ones!
So, what's so great about Swype and why does it improve author productivity?
Well, in the simplest possible terms, it makes you type faster on your phone. Swype uses an innovative method where you run one finger over the 'keys' to type. It includes algorithms that predict what you're going to type based on words you use frequently and will learn words you teach it. (I had to teach it all the swear words. The basic version is very 'clean' and apparently my language isn't!)
Swype offers support for a whole heap of languages and is continually evolving features to make the app work more efficiently for every individual user.
This is typing the word 'quick'. And Swype IS quick. Using the traditional 'two thumbs' method of texting, I could max maybe 15 words a minute, plus a whole load of backspaces and corrections that would slow me further. With Swype, I regularly hit 30, and it's very possible to hit 40 words a minute without needing to be a speed typist on a regular keyboard.
Now think about that for a moment. Imagine you have a Google Doc set up to share across all your devices. And perhaps you have five minutes, a couple of times a day, waiting for a bus, or a train, or for the kids to get out of school.
Let's say that you can hit 30wpm and you Swype for 5 minutes, twice a day.
30 x 5 x 2 = 300 words per day.
Doesn't sound like much? Let's multiply that by 5 days a week (I'll give you weekends off).
300 x 5 = 1500 words per week.
50 weeks per year? (You can have a couple weeks off).
1500 x 50 = 75,000 words.
THAT is a respectable length novel. And you never even sat down at a computer keyboard to do it.
(If you type every day, the math comes out to 109,500 words per year. That's one and a half novels. Maybe you don't really need weekends off after all...)
I use Swype (with Docs) regularly to make notes when I'm on the go. Most of my writing is done in Docs and I will often jot down an outline for a scene, or continue writing the scene itself, when I'm sitting waiting for my kids at swimming, or anywhere else I've got a couple of minutes to spare.
You don't have to be sitting down at your computer at home to write. Using Swype and Docs, you can write on the bus or the train, waiting in line at the coffee shop; any where and any time you're sitting or standing with nothing much to do. Yes, you could go and scroll your Twitter or Tumblr feed. But why not do something a little more productive instead?
Remember; 300 words a day = 1 full novel per year. Download Swype and give it a go!