The more things change…

I wrote my first novel longhand in a paper day planner as I was outprocessing the Air Force. I was no stranger to writing digitally, but this was 1996, and even if I had owned a laptop back then, I certainly wasn’t going to lug the heavy, battery-challenged thing around with me everywhere I went. Computers were mostly stationary, connected-to-AC-power things back then, and I had places to be. But everywhere I went, I had my pleather-bound, 6×9 inch notebook, ready to record the next exciting chapter that popped into my head.

This is my new writing rig. It’s my Asus Nexus 7, along with a few choice accessories. I expect to write as much with this as I did back in the day, for largely the same reasons. It can go anywhere I do, but it’s large enough to provide an immersive writing experience that my Galaxy Nexus (large-screened though it is) just can’t match. But it needs a little help. Here’s what I’m using to turn a tablet into my perfect writing device.

Blurex Ultra-Slim Case

I’ve got both this and its big brother, but I like the smaller version better. This case provides an elegant, professional presentation and tons of utility. Not only does it hold my stylus at the ready, but it also doubles as a stand if I decide to bring along my Bluetooth keyboard and do some typing. On the inside of the front cover there’s a wide elastic hand strap that the fingers of my right hand slide into, making it almost impossible to drop even if I’m walking around with it, and under that strap is a small magnet that puts the Nexus 7 to sleep when I close the cover and wakes it when I open the cover.

You’ll notice in the picture that the stylus loop and elastic strap are on the left. This is because I’m a southpaw and use my Nexus 7 mostly “upside down,” so that the case opens left to right. For you righties, you’ll be fine using it the “normal” way.

Boxwave EverTouch Capacitive Stylus

The stylus is something special, too. Unlike most of the capacitive stylii on the market that use rubber tips, this uses a weave of capacitive fibers. The cloth tip is just as soft and easy on the screen as the rubber tips, but it doesn’t streak and wear the screen the way rubber does. Long after rubber tipped stylii have lost their slickness and become grippy little friction factories, this stylus glides easily and is recognized reliably. I found that even good rubber stylii didn’t always register as touching the screen, which makes my next tool much harder to use.

Swype

This is where it all comes together. Using Swype, I can write with the stylus as fast as I can type. In case you’ve never seen it, Swype is an on-screen keyboard that allows you to drag your finger or stylus from letter to letter to form words, only breaking contact with the screen between words. The result is that each word becomes a glyph in its own right, and muscle memory kicks in after a while. You know the shape a common word makes on the keyboard, and you start just drawing the shape rather than carefully connecting the letters. Using Swype and the EverTouch stylus, I can write with one hand fast enough to keep up with the stream of words in my head, and without needing to find a place to set up a Bluetooth keyboard. I can write on the go just the way I did when I was writing my first novel, only this time recording everything digitally the first time through. All in a nice pleatherbound package that fits easily in hand and weighs just an ounce over a pound.

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