Is an iPad a suitable replacement for a writer’s laptop?

Is an iPad a suitable replacement for a writer’s laptop?

One of the problems I have with my MacBook laptop is the damned thing is so distracting. I can be typing away on some amazing blog post, report or short story and for no reason whatsoever I get the urge to flick to Twitter or start mucking about with a photo I want to edit. My writing productivity drops off a cliff as I lose my place and train of thought.

Various experiments have taken place with alternatives. I have an 11 inch MacBook Air that I stripped back to have nothing more on but a web browser, a copy of FocusWriter and Pages. This worked well for a while, but the demands of work meant I had to reinstall software and ended up back at square one.

I know this is a failing on my part. I know it is entirely my own fault that I somehow equate having a laptop with allowing my mind to wander. That’s fine and I accept it. But it doesn’t help me.

What does help me is having something where, for whatever reason, that psychological need to “go look at something else” doesn’t happen. This is where the iPad steps in.

My iPad Air has mostly lived a life of browsing the web, for which it is ideal. I also use it for Flipboard, Pinterest, Twitter and the excellent Apple News. All of this is consuming media rather than creating it of course.

Initial attempts to use it as a writing tool were frustrating, mostly due to the on-screen keyboard. The fact it steals half the screen is a nuisance, but it has a habit of behaving like a trackpad and randomly deleting content that is far more disruptive. I did try a Snugg, an accessory that was supposed to provide me with a robust keyboard, only that didn’t work out, compromising the lightness and ease of use that makes the iPad Air a delightful device to carry around.

Fortunately Logitech came to the rescue with a thin, good quality keyboard that’s easy to work with and adds little in terms of weight and bulk. It’s been good enough for me to wander off to the local coffee shop and bang out blog posts, capture comments from workshops and do a few other things. It also prompted me to dig out my old Apple bluetooth keyboard and connect that to the iPad too, for when I’m at home and don’t need keyboard and iPad to physically connect.

Better yet, it works in portrait mode, which is far easier for editing as much more text is visible.

My iPad has become my go-to for writing now. While it lacks a lot of the tools I need to finesse content or carry out final edits and formats, as a tool for distraction free banging out words I really can’t fault it.

About Ross A Hall

A business researcher and writer, I help companies find new markets, form strategies and build successful businesses.

Find out more about my work.

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