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Writing on the Move

By Rondi Bauer Olson

I have lived close to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for twenty-five years, but, despite being an avid backpacker, I had never hiked the forty-mile trail in the park that follows the coast of Lake Superior. Determined to check this goal off my bucket list, I set aside four days last month to tackle the trek. There was only one problem. I was way behind in my writing. Beta readers on my second manuscript had suggested major revisions, and I’d already missed my deadline for turning the book in. I couldn’t afford four days in the wilderness.

Then I thought of a writer I’d heard speak at a conference. He had mentioned he’d written both of his novels on his phone, typing with one thumb. It had almost been a throw-away comment, but as I thought about making this backpacking trip, I found the possibility of writing on the go more and more intriguing. So I installed a document app on my phone and headed for the trail.

My first day hiking I was too tired to write. I set up my tent, crawled into my sleeping bag, and nearly passed out, but the second day, after a brief post-hike nap, I took out my phone, opened up my manuscript, and started typing.

I really enjoyed the convenience of it. I would never have been able to haul my laptop on the trail, and I really got quite a bit of writing done. I also loved the fact that the app automatically backed up to the cloud. Even though I was out of cell-phone range for most of the trip, I was able to work off-line, and when I got home all of my material was readily available on my other devices. I did find editing on the app a little slow, and have switched back to my laptop for that, but I did put my work-in-progress on my phone. I find writing a first draft on the app pretty easy, and I’ve used stolen moments to boost my word count. I’ve written in the grocery store while waiting in line, in the car while my husband drives, even at the doctor’s office, sitting up on the exam table.

There are a number of document editing apps available for iPhone and Android. I ended up using Google Docs, which integrates with Google Drive. If you are interested, I suggest researching which app would  work best for you.

My backpacking trip was wonderful, and just the mental break I needed. I love being out in nature, God’s second book, and I enjoyed many wonderful moments with him along the trail. I even made peace with snapping turtles, after a life-long intense dislike of them, after meeting a huge and beautiful specimen basking in the morning sun. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out because of writing commitments, and also glad I was able to keep up thanks to my phone.

Have you ever written on the move? Do you have a favorite app or technique?

How to finish a manuscript using stolen moments. @rondiolson #ACFWBlogs #amwriting Click To Tweet How to boost your word count by writing on the go. @rondiolson #ACFWBlogs #amwriting Click To Tweet

Rondi Bauer Olson is a reader, writer, and animal wrangler from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her debut novel for young adults, All Things Now Living, was a finalist in the 2012 Genesis Contest and is available at major online retailers. Reach Rondi at or


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2 Responses to Writing on the Move

  1. I read on my phone, but never thought I could write on it…will give it a try!

  2. Rondi Olson says:

    I found it surprisingly easy, and with the way I’ve lost manuscripts, having the automatic backup is great. Hope it goes well for you!