7 Ways the iPad Can Bring Back
Your Writing Mojo

image of iPad device

The iPad is here. And it’s here to stay.

There is a sea change going on within the mobile computing industry. And despite the cool, slick look of these devices, it’s not the hardware that makes them useful. It’s the applications (apps). Apps are little engines of innovation driving the current (and future) trends in computing, publishing, print, and media.

There are apps for everything you can imagine. In fact, the latest count shows there are more than 250,000.

But did you know that there are even apps that can help you get your mojo back if you need some writing inspiration?

Before you read on, note that there are some great non-mobile device tips here on Copyblogger for getting inspired to write.

Ready to get your mojo back? Great, let’s hit the apps.

1. Web Roulette

To find some writing inspiration, take a spin on Web Roulette.

This app has a number of categories (humor, blogs, technology, bizarre, comics, entertainment, art/photos, opinion, Wikipedia), which pull up random sites as you “spin” the wheel.

When you sit down with this app, it’s best to have a little bit of time and a way to capture your ideas as you explore. The blogs category is an obvious place to start, but consider sources like opinions and art/photos.

Web Roulette gets you out of your usual reading ruts. You can check out Web Roulette here.

2. 23,000 Great Quotes HD

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not. ~ Mark Twain

Ever read some really good quotes to give you some writing inspiration? It works.

You probably won’t be tempted to read all 23,000 in one sitting (unless you’re on deadline, of course), but you can spend a few minutes reading others’ words of wisdom with this app and see how quickly your mojo starts to creep back.

This app is more than just a bunch of quotes thrown on a page. It is organized into more than 20 categories, with quotes from 7,000 authors, and you don’t need an internet connection to enjoy it. Check out 23,000 Great Quotes here.

3. Popplet

Sometimes a good brainstorming session is really all you need to do to get a little inspiration flowing. With the iPad, you have a ton of options, but one of the best options is a good app for some non-restrictive idea generation.

Popplet is a brainstorming app that is both serious and fun. Go find a place away from distractions. Then use Popplet to visually organize your thoughts and ideas.

Typical uses are for task lists, brainstorming, concept planning, and free-form idea generation. It is full of great features but the point here is to explore and spend some time using your iPad to think outside of the box for inspiration. You can check out Popplet here.

4. iThoughts HD

Mindmapping is a powerful way to visually organize your thoughts, ideas, and information. It is also a great way to overcome a mojo slump and get some inspiration back.

Mindmapping is different from brainstorming. With a brainstorming session you typically write ideas and thoughts without worrying about structure or form. With mindmapping, you get a little more organized and structured. Mindmaps start with a seed concept and then branch out from there. They can be used for all sorts of things from task lists to idea generation.

This particular iPad app is one of the better mindmapping tools. It supports a wide range of features including varying shapes, colors, relationships, text styles, and the ability to use an external monitor.

To get the most out of mindmapping, though, don’t worry too much about the structure of the sample mindmaps. Just feel free to create your own structure. After all, it’s your mind. Check out iThoughtsHD here.

5. MovieVault

Sometimes getting your mojo back means you need to take a break from the tools and simply escape into someone else’s world. Your iPad can help here too.

MovieVault is an iPad app that connects you to an entire library of classic movies. For the single price of the app ($4.99) you get to watch as many classic movies as you want to. I reviewed MovieVault a few weeks ago and was amazed at the fact that I could stream these movies so quickly and easily (even over a 3G connection).

But how does this help you get inspired to write? Believe it or not, escaping with a great story helps you think of your own stories. It puts you in story mode. It lets your brain take a break from your current loss of mojo and it gets your creative mind going again. It’s like adding spark to a spark plug. You can check out MovieVault here.

6. Let’s Create Pottery HD

From the title, you might be imagining your iPad spinning around with a lump of clay. Not quite. But this app is pretty darn close without the mess. Truly an engaging experience, you can clear your mind and experience something unique.

Getting back your inspiration can sometimes happen when you are willing to let go of whatever it is you are stuck on and take a different path for awhile. As it turns out, your iPad can take you down that other path.

Let’s Create Pottery makes use of the iPad’s touch and motion sensors as it gives you a virtual lump of spinning clay in hi-res graphics and lets you create a pottery piece just as if you were sitting at a real wheel. Then you get to glaze, save it, and share it with others if you choose.

Now I don’t know about you, but anytime you can use your hands and mind to create, it has this additive effect on your mojo. Check out Let’s Create Pottery HD here.

7. Zinio

Did you know that there are hundreds of traditional print magazines that have gone digital? And your iPad can be a great way to experience them.

Grab the free Zinio app and gain access to an entire newsstand of digital content from mainstream to independent print and media publications. The Zinio app is free but most of the magazines you will have to pay for before downloading. There are a few samples, however, so you see what you are getting before you buy any.

Don’t just read magazines in your topic — take the opportunity to explore some new subjects, new areas of interest, and new approaches you haven’t seen before. Mojo loves novelty! Check out Zinio here.

There you have it, seven effective ways to get your writing mojo back using the iPad.

It’s great that you can do all this on one single device. But remember, as Jon Morrow points out in his getting inspired to write article, sometimes it’s smart to put everything down, including your iPad, and get out in the fresh air.

About the Author: Shane uses his Tablet Computer Geeks blog to deliver the latest and best iPad information, including accessory reviews, app reviews, and industry updates. Follow him on twitter at tc_geeks.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for providing these great resources/apps for improving copy. I will definitely benefit by using these different puzzle pieces in my blog posts.

    I never thought to download these types of apps from my iPhone (still saving for the iPad!).

    I’m especially excited to check out Zinio!

    Thanks Shane!

    @riazsidi

    • Riaz,

      You are more than welcome. The Zinio app is pretty nice. It is a gateway to a ton of digital magazines. The copy improves as app developers continue to push the boundaries on the delivery and interaction.

    • I agree about Zino. Would love to hear some feedback on it! And thanks for the post here too. These are great tips for “bloggers block.”

  2. Hey Shane! It’s awesome to see you here.

    I knew when we first talked that you were going to be doing some great stuff soon.

    Keep it coming :-)

  3. Geez! Instead of helping me with my productivity, you’ve now given me seven new ways to waste time. :)

    I just downloaded Popplet lite to check it out, and will be checking out several of the others.

    Do you have a good rec for a simple word processing program? Pages seems to be more than I need…

  4. some of these are great ideas to get that spark going but the pottery thing? I don’t know about this. I think the best way to get creative is to stop hiding in the dark on your iPad and DO SOMETHING IN REAL LIFE! I know it’s a foreign concept these days, but the more you are engaged with actual reality the better your brain is going to work. Just my 2 cents….I sound like an old person but I am not yet 30 but I see more and more people just turning their brains into mush with their electronic do hickeys, the twitter and the interwebs. Have a real life and you will have lots to blog about!

    • I both agree with you that we need to get non-virtual a whole lot more often than we do, and yet at the same time I really want to try the virtual pottery thing. :)

      Totally agree, though, as Shane says at the end — the iPad can’t get outside and get fresh air for you. Real life is a good thing.

      • Yes! I agree as well. For me it is a balance actually. As a blogger, I do spend a lot of time “online” and on the iPad, etc., but I do take time to put it all down and go outside or get off the grid.

        With the pottery app in particular, I did find that it was really amazing one day when I was “stuck” writing a particular post and it took my mind off things and did help me get over the hump.

  5. That quotes application is awesome. Never even occurred to me to look for a quotes app (I have used the web directly for this in the past). Thanks!

    Mark
    masonworld.com

    • Mark. Yeah I thought this one was just amazing. And the quotes are really good! I also used the web for this a lot because quotes are great for adding into my content and also giving me new ideas.

  6. You’ve offered some great ideas on idea finding. I’ve never used these apps and am now considering the purchase of an iPad so that I can check them out. I can sympathize with Lain when she said that you have just given her more ways to waste time. However, if you limit the time spent on the apps, you could end up with the best of both worlds.
    I recently posted a blog about time=money, but some of that time has to be spent on research. Consider the time spent on the apps as research time. We never know when or where we will find inspiration. It could be while taking a walk, or watching a show on television, the point we need to concentrate on is capturing the inspiration once we find it. If I’m not at my computer, I keep a small note pad with me so that I can jot down ideas no matter where I am.

    • Vik,

      You bring up a great point about time=money. I agree with you there. The thing that is interesting about the iPad is that the hardware is not as “magical” to me as the apps. They are the what I call the “engines of innovation”. As we see more and more developers push the limits of what they can do then we will also see how we can use these devices in our businesses and daily lives. Hopefully we see them as tools and not time wasters ;-)

  7. But wait… does iPAD have a connection to a keyboard? Wasn’t it Brian (Clark) arguing during a 3T phone conference some time ago that it may have a writing hindrance because it doesn’t allow one to create?

    Or did I miss speak here?

    • Darren –
      Yes there are keyboards you can use with the iPad. Actually you have 2 great options.

      1. You can use the Apple Keyboard dock.
      2. You can use a bluetooth keyboard and an iPad stand

      I prefer the Apply Keyboard dock myself. I pop in the iPad and start typing. I do get some interesting looks at the coffee shop but that’s the fun of owning the device!

      P.S. I actually composed the draft for this post using the iPad and the keyboard dock.

  8. @Shane so what your really saying is that Kindle is screwed! LOL But then again I guess we all knew that.

    • LOL! Well, I would not write off the Kindle just yet. It definitely has a place and will have for a long time. With the Kindle, you get the e-Ink that people really appreciate.

      For general reading, the Kindle is a handy device. The iPad is a great reader if you want more interactivity, colors, sounds, video, etc.

      We are now seeing books turned into more of an “experience” with the iPad.

    • I personally prefer the non-backlit Kindle for reading, I think it will end up being a matter of personal taste. Some people like the reading experience of the iPad, some the Kindle. Both great tools imo.

  9. Along the same lines as the pottery app, there’s also an artsy one that’s a lot like finger painting – great for letting your inner child out to play and coming up with some wild and innovative “outside the box” ideas. Can’t recall the name of it, but I do remember that it’s free.

    • Sherice,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, there are about a dozen or so Free finger painting apps that are great for adults as well as kids.

      A lot of the time, these apps which cost money have a “lite” version that is free. I use these a lot to test them out before jumping in and buying the “pro” version.

  10. @Brian I am seeing a trend here. Whatever you don’t like initially you convert to. Foursquare anyone? LOL

    @Shane what is e-Ink?? Please clarify with Kindle what does e-Ink do?

    • Darren –

      Absolutely. e-Ink is the technology that Amazon uses. It is a form of electronic paper that started from development in the MIT research labs. It uses various negative and positively charged pigments to present crisp, clean text.

      A lot of people love it because you can see it so much better in the sunlight. With the iPad, which does not use e-ink technology, reading in the direct light is a lot harder.

    • The non-backlit screen is also easier on insomniacs like me — the screen doesn’t keep me awake the way a lit screen would. But the flip side of that is that I do need a reading light to read in bed.

  11. Someone bought me a Kindle yesterday…or was it a 5-1/2″ floppy? I’m not sure NOW. ;)

  12. @Shane ahhhh see if Kindle was smart they would do a commercial similar to the one MAC does with the PC. And make it go viral online.

    • Oh…they did actually…it’s not “viral” but it’s definitely a poke at the iPad – it’s a commercial showing how you can read the Kindle in the Sun and not the iPad – it’s not as subtle as the Get a Mac ads. It’s more direct and right to the point :-)

  13. I *really* like how easy it is to excerpt when reading. I love using obscure quotes, and appropriating allusions for my own writing, iPad makes it really simple. Just a few taps of the fingers, email the note to myself later.

    • Dave –

      You bring up a great point. One thing with the iPad is that you *can* take notes while reading and then email those off. Also, you can use apps like Evernote which allow you to capture thoughts or images.

      So, in effect, it’s more an interactive type of reading session which I am enjoying. As opposed to reading, writing on a sticky note, then figuring out what to do with that note! Most of the time I lose it ;-)

  14. Great post Shane!

    Now I’m going to have to get an Ipad to get my mojo!

  15. I am not buying an iPad anytime soon, but I am glad to know that there are many use to this technology that can help me become more creative and productive.

    Thank you.

  16. Wow – those suggestions sound like FUN! How cool! I’ve been reading a lot about the Mac lately on their site. I love how they make things so easy and simple especially since Macs can run Windows on their computers too.

  17. This post, while awesome for those who have Ipads, was a fail for me because I don’t and probably won’t for a very long time. I think it is too audience specific; not all copywriters and bloggers have Ipads.

    • Agreed! I don’t have one either and sure it would be great for those that use one, but this post and comments are just coming across as a giant ad for one which I am not a fan of. I love copyblogger but there is a slight ‘boooooo’ feeling I can’t shake with this one.

      • Hi Candi,

        Thanks for the comment. The iPad is certainly getting a lot of attention at the moment but the reason is not because it’s just shiny and new. Rather, it is having a positive impact on the publishing and writing industry as well. Major publishers, writers, and content marketers are finding new ways to use it on a daily basis.

        The future for these types of devices is extremely bright as we will begin to see them challenge the traditional ways in which we interact with the web and content.

        It’s certainly easy to get excited over the technology but it’s even more important to try and present views on how copywriters, bloggers, and content marketers can use it for their success.

  18. I’m loving my iPad, Shane, so much that I’ve been blogging a little bit about it myself.

    I’m also loving your blog — I access it in Reeder (my RSS reader of choice) plus I’ve been reading your threads in Third Tribe.

    You’ve really found a great niche, and I know you’ll be hugely successful with the rate you’re going.

    • Charles,

      Thank You! I love doing the blog. The goal has always been to be useful and helpful for all iPad owners. We are still at the tipping point of where these devices will take us, so I’m glad you are coming along for the adventure.

      :-)

  19. Those are some great apps I’ll have to check out, but that means it will probably alter my next fictitious blog post… 1,007 Ways your iPad Can Make You Even More of an Insomniac, haha.

  20. Shane,

    Great job, you really picked some good apps both here and on your site. I snatched several of them and now when I go out to do inperson training, I no longer lug my 10 pound desktop replacement notebook for tweaks, but my iPad. Great job!

  21. Love the post and the suggestions – might be an excuse to GET an ipad, but my problem is that I’d want to use it to write on, and it doesn’t have a keyboard. I tried the touch keyboard on the iphone and I can’t use it with any speed at all.

    Is the Ipad keyboard useable?

    I love my kindle, but my husband keeps borrowing it and using the voice facility to listen to books on his way to work.

    • Hi Lesley,

      It does have an on-screen keyboard, and I have to say that it took me a little while to type moderately fast on it.

      My solution is the Apple Keyboard Dock. It is far easier to use and it’s a real keyboard. Some others prefer a bluetooth keyboard but I like the Keyboard dock because it also is a stand for the iPad!

  22. why the switch from Thesis theme? i am trying to decide on a theme, was going to go with Thesis – curious why you switched.

  23. These are some excellent to use and help be more productive. The way to go.