Using your ereader as a writing tool

Since getting my Kindle Touch* this last Christmas, I’ve been having fun exploring some of the more esoteric features of the device.  I already knew it was an excellent reading tool.  What I’ve discovered is that is a useful tool for writing as well.

Going Paperless with Critiques

I love my writing group, but as their specialization is novels, some months I wound up printing over a hundred pages in order to do my critiques. I just can’t read long documents on a regular computer screen.

Having a Kindle changed all that.  It’s fairly easy to send personal documents to your ereader.  You can convert them yourself using a program like Calibre.  Or, in the case of Kindles, you can send documents to your ereader by using your mailing address.  Amazon then converts your personal documents and sends them to your Kindle.

I found that I loved using highlights and notes to mark up a document on my Kindle.  During meetings of my critique group, I could then view all those notes at once on my Kindle, and discuss them.  Or if I wanted to port them into a word document that I could email to others, I could use the Clippings Converter.

Doing Research

The novel that I am working on is set in 1836.  When I started on it, I had a thick paper file of photocopied material and research notes that I had to lug with me when I was working on my story.

Since most of my source material is public domain, I have enjoyed downloading them from Google Books, or finding them on websites and converting them into files for my Kindle.  Using collections, I can organize the material into groupings, and with notes and highlights access in a flash everything relevant within a longer work.  I’ve also transferred to Kindle my personal documents with research notes, time lines, and character biographies.


Using the text-to-speech option on your ereader can be pretty annoying, but it’s great if you want to catch errors in your manuscripts before submitting them.  The mechanical voice will not fill in missing words, and it will force you to find all those extra adverbs littering your manuscript.

Okay, so that’s how I use my ereader as a writing tool.  How are you using it?  Have you found fun and unusual uses for it?  Got any favorite apps to share?

Tell us!  We’d love to hear them.



* I mention the Kindle Touch because that is the ereader that I own. Many of the features that I mention are available on other devices, though you may need other techniques to access them.  If you have a Nook or some other device that you use as a writing tool, tell us about it in the comments!

About Hilary Moon Murphy

Hilary Moon Murphy's fictional life currently takes place in 1836, within the boundaries of Washington, D.C.. Before that, she has fictionally lived in an ancient China that never was, Mahatma Gandhi's India, and a magical San Francisco. She is a firm believer in Sacred Cows, especially those that are really elephants.


Using your ereader as a writing tool — 5 Comments

  1. I got my Kindle for my birthday last June and had not considered using it for anything other than reading. Your post is a revelation to me and I have now loaded in the submissions for our next critique group. I am also excited at the idea of organizing research on it although I am concerned that for me, this will be one more place to store information in tandem with my other disorganizing systems. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • I know what you mean about there being too many places to organize your information. I sometimes face the same problem.

      I just love that my Kindle is transportable everywhere. It is easy to carry on my bike or in my purse. It can go anywhere with me, and its battery length is fabulous.

      I am so glad that you found my post helpful!

  2. I have a Nook tablet, and I’ve been meaning to find out to what extent it can be used in this way. I can make notes in manuscripts (if they are a reader-friendly format, preferably epub). And I am told that if I have multiple Nooks they will sync my notes, which is nice if one has multiple Nooks, though I don’t see why one would. But I haven’t found any way to export the notes to give them to someone else.
    No text to speech either. 🙁

    • It is a shame that no one has come up with a clippings converter for the Nook yet. (Or maybe someone has, but they haven’t advertised the app properly.) Question… Can you access your notes file and download it via USB? If you can, maybe Calibre can convert it.

      I am glad that most Kindles come with text to speech, which I view as an important accessibility feature. I do note that a number of professional publishers block it in their ebooks. This baffles me… I don’t think that “Tom” (the toneless and expressionless voice of the Kindle) could possibly be competition for the real voice actors in professionally produced audio fiction. I wasn’t that excited about the feature until I realized that I could use it to proofread my OWN work.


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