I got a lot of great suggestions for solutions to my Scrivener to iPad dilemma. Ultimately, I ended up breaking down and buying Pages. I’m a sucker for design, particularly when I’m writing, and Pages is pretty, functional, and easy to use.
I realized that there were only a few documents I was actively working on that needed the formatting preserved—my conference paper, a couple sections of my dissertation chapter, some miscellaneous notes. Those I converted to word and opened in Pages before I left for the conference. Everything else—most importantly, most of the notes and evidence for the current chapter—I exported from Scrivener to a Dropbox folder so that I could access it with Simplenote if I needed it.
As systems go, it worked pretty well. I got some writing done in the airport and some more done the day before the conference. The Bluetooth keyboard from my iMac worked seamlessly. As is always the case, once the conference started all my plans to work on my chapter went right out the window, but given what I managed to accomplish before and after the conference, I wouldn’t call it a complete wash.
My biggest holdup at this point is that I can’t get in the same compositional headspace when I’m writing on the iPad as I do when I’m working at my desk or on my laptop. It doesn’t quite feel like real writing. The limited screen space might have something to do with that, but even when I’m using an external keyboard, the writing I’m doing feels a bit provisional. It’s not as polished, the ideas aren’t as complete, and nothing feels quite final.
I think some of it is that Pages, while useable, attractive, and cleanly-designed, doesn’t really do it for me. It feels too different from the interfaces I’m used to when I write. My hope is that when Scrivener makes it to the iPad, the familiar interface (and I hope it will be at least semi-familiar) will help me overcome this weird sense that what I’m doing on the iPad isn’t really writing.
Clearly, I’m a creature of deeply ingrained habits, and not being able to transfer those habits to new technology is throwing a bit of a wrench in the works. Using Scrivener almost exclusively for years now has resulted in the development of certain very specific habits. I like to have all my research available on the sidebar as I write, categorized and labeled with important keywords. I like to have my draft and notes up on a split screen. I like to be able to search all my drafts and research with a single command. If I didn’t use Scrivener, I would totally be that person with all the index cards everywhere and post-it notes and flowcharts plastering the walls.
Right now, I can’t do any of those things on the iPad. I’ll keep experimenting with the right setup (or with the good-enough setup), but it looks like I’m mostly biding my time until Scrivener comes to the iPad.