Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kindle as a Writing Tool

In the movie Finding Forrester, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist William Forrester says about writing, "You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head."

That's one important thing the Kindle does for me as a writer. It allows me to objectify my work, to look at it with my head, rather than with my heart. It allows me to look at my writing as a reader rather than as the writer. When I see the story on the Kindle screen in the same format as all the other books I read, I slip into my "reader mode" much more quickly and read the story more with my head. Seeing the story through a reader's eyes is an important gift that Kindle gives.

You may ask, "What about a Nook or iPad or some other reader?" My response is that the Nook I owned (now used by my wife) was perfect for reading, but I found the note-taking and note-viewing functions not as practicable. I cannot speak for the new Nooks or for other readers or tablets. I do know, though, that the Kindle makes it easy to highlight and to take notes, and when I look at the notes, they are in a single list, the note and original text placed together, so that I can quickly go through them. Kindle's note-taking function is another powerful tool that the reader provides to help me as a writer. After reading and taking notes on a piece with my Kindle, I am able to sit at my computer and use my notes to make changes on the original file. After that, I can convert the file to a mobi file and start another round of revision.

The third reason owning my Kindle helps me as a writer is that I now tend to write in Word with the knowledge that I will convert to an e-format. This makes the final publishing steps of creating the ebook much easier. Some of the glitches that show up can either be fixed or at least noted for fixing in the final stages. I've found that adding poetry to the prose piece demands that I work with the HTML file when creating the published mobi (or epub) file. Such glitches show up during the drafting process, so the final published work usually requires fewer formatting revisions once it is uploaded to Kindle.

My Kindle provides a user-friendly device for a work in progress to "make it look different." I've also printed hard copies of my writing, moved from double space to single space formatting, and saved a file as a PDF and then read the work with Adobe Reader. All these techniques allow me to objectify my experience of revision, to increase the "writing with the head."

The Kindle reader just makes it easier in addition to providing a preview of how the piece will look on a reader. Finally, I also can use the mobi file to send the work to beta readers. They can make notes and then move the file from the Kindle to their computer and send the file back to me. In all honesty, though, I also send PDFs to beta readers because the comment function on PDFs is so slick.

I like my Kindle, both as a reader and a writer. Discovering its utility in the writing process was an added bonus. It's pretty great just as a reading device.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. Excellent idea. And I totally agree with you that using the Kindle in this way will give the writer much more of a "reader's" perspective.

    1. I'm finding the device very useful. Best of luck with your novel.