Who says that you must always have a paper notebook with you to jot down your notes and bouts of inspiration if you’re a writer? Chances are, even if you have a notebook, you’re more likely to have your smartphone with you, while you’ll only have your notebook with you every so often. Don’t worry, you’re not any less of a writer if you admit this. Who wants writer’s cramp anyway?
Smartphones and tablets have garnered unfair stereotypes in recent years, especially for writers. They’re seen as being superfluous and as tools of unnecessary distraction. However, there’s reason why mobile devices have become so popular and are now vital tools in our everyday lives.
Instead of trying to fight against their influence and widespread use, let’s use mobile devices to improve our writing aptitudes, especially since they’re with us all the time. You’re no less of a talented writer if you decide to hone your skills using a smartphone instead of a typewriter. After all, even typewriters were at one time viewed as imposter-inducing devices.
Here are a few ways you can improve your writing from your mobile device.
1. Receive Word-of-the-Day Notifications
If you want to expand your vocabulary, there are plenty of apps available that will send you a “word of the day.” Here are a few:
- com App
- Magoosh Vocabulary Builder App
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary App
- com App
Receiving a “word of the day” isn’t just about building your vocabulary, either. Usually they’re sent along with an example sentence. These example sentences could inspire your next writing idea or offer an interesting book recommendation, whether the sentences are fabricated or from famous written works. You’ll also learn more about the mechanics and intricacies of different types of words within the English language.
2. Time Your Writing Sessions and Track Your Progress
If you’re serious about improving your writing skills, you’ll need to identify and build a writing routine that works for you, and you’ll need to hone your time management skills. Use a time-tracking app like Toggl to help you identify when you’re most productive and what you spend most of your time doing throughout your writing process. Set reminders for yourself to follow when you need to start writing, until your ideal writing routine becomes second nature.
For instance, before you start tracking your time, you may not be aware that you spend most of your time researching your writing topics and not enough time writing drafts. You can use this information to develop a writing routine that is more productive, so you always meet your deadlines. Or you might discover that you complete your best writing in the early morning and not in the afternoon. And so on.
For more information on finding the perfect time to write, read Here's the Best Time for You to Write, According to Science.
3. Use Grammar-Checking Software
To improve your grammar as you’re quickly typing texts, social media posts, or emails on your smartphone, use a grammar-checking app. It will help you identify and correct glaring grammar and spelling errors as you’re scrawling a message while you’re in the middle of making dinner or standing in the checkout lane at the store.
Be sure to remember, however, that you should not use grammar-checking apps as a crutch or rely on them blindly, as they often miss writing mistakes and falsely flag correct text. Instead, use them to help identify common errors you make in your writing, and to help hone your skills. And don’t ever rely on them for important documents that should always be reviewed by a professional editor and proofreader.
Read Grammar-Checking Software: A Quick Review to learn more about grammar-checking software, so you can pick the best one for your writing needs.
4. Rely on a Cloud-Based Notetaking Platform
It might be difficult to trade in your paper notebook for a notetaking app at first, but you’ll start to appreciate it more the next time inspiration strikes while you’re in an odd location without your paper notebook or the next time you find the perfect resource for your upcoming writing project online.
With a cloud-based notetaking app like Evernote, in addition to text notes, you can upload and save photos and audio or video clips that inspire you. And you’ll have access to all your notes and files wherever you are, without fear of them being misplaced, erased, or forgotten.
5. Gain Inspiration Through Social Media
Follow writing groups, instructors, authors, and publications on social media. You’ll gain access to invaluable resources and will have a wealth of inspiration at your fingertips. Depending on whom you follow on social media, you’ll learn about new and useful writing tools and techniques, the business of writing, and much more.
6. Interact with Others and Engage in Social Learning
Find online writing forums and groups that you can access via your mobile apps to improve your writing skills. You can find and start reading-and-writing-oriented groups on apps like LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Facebook. Use these apps to interact with other writers and professionals within your industry. Learn from them and offer your expertise to them, too. You’ll be able to more quickly hone your writing skills when you have a reliable group of experts and professionals to review your work, offer advice and motivation, etc.
7. Take Courses on Writing
There are plenty of e-learning apps out there like EdX and Udemy that offer free courses on writing and writing techniques. Courses are typically developed by accredited university professors and other reputable writers. Most of the time you can complete the courses at your own pace, and they offer plenty of valuable resources and guidelines.
8. Read More Reputable and Curated Content
Hands down, the most effective way to become a better writer is to read more, a lot more. Instead of using your mobile device as a tool of distraction, put your OMGs and LOLs aside and download apps that allow you to read a variety of important content that will help you hone your writing skills. You can use apps like Feedly, Inoreader, and Pocket that curate content for you from reputable publications about writing.
You can use these apps to curate content about writing and your given industry, so you can access them all in one place. Instead of having to scour the internet or rely on a variety of disparate resources, have an app curate all the content you need to read in one place on your mobile device.
How do you use your mobile device to hone your writing skills? Do you have a favorite app? Share with us in the comments below.