Friday, February 13, 2015

Writing Tools: Hanx Writer

Does anyone else out there like to do their first drafts with pen and paper? Writing a first draft hunched over a keyboard just doesn't work for me. Leaning back in a comfy chair or lounging on the couch is much more conducive to first drafting, at least for me. That's been my writing process for years, scratching out the first draft and then keying my sometimes indecipherable handwriting for the second draft. The problem is the keying stage takes a long, long time. It's a second draft so I start editing and there's always the sentence crammed into the margin that I can no longer read. That keying stage isn't conducive to high-speed production. I also can't tell how much I've written until after the keying stage.

Then along came the iPad mini. I love it as a reading device, but would it work as an input device for first drafts, allowing me to still use my favorite writing spots and avoid the dreaded keying stage? I searched for an editor and settled on Hanx Writer.

Hanx Writer is supposed to mimic a typewriter with the look of the keyboard and the sounds of an old manual, including a ding at the end of a line. It's nostalgic and kind of romantic to imagine pounding out your first draft on a virtual typewriter. Unlike an old-fashioned typewriter, Hanx Writer has a built-in spellchecker with suggestions and you can easily move the cursor around the document to delete or add text. It also gives you a word count. To get your hard work into your favorite word processor, simply email the document to yourself as a pdf.

The app comes in three flavors: Hanx Prime Select, Hanx 707, and Hanx Golden Touch. The basic version is free. Use it to give Hanx Writer a test drive. Unfortunately, the basic version only allows for one document. If you want to work on multiple projects, you will need to upgrade to either the 707 or Golden Touch (both available as in-app purchases). So far, I've only had one bad experience. I was trying to move my cursor around but it wouldn't display anywhere. I pressed the space bar and lost a half-page of text. Fortunately, that half page was fresh in my head so I rewrote it (probably better than the text I somehow deleted). That hasn't happened again. However, I recommend emailing the document to yourself on a regular basis so that you'll have a backup in case something dire happens with the app or to your iPad.

Happy typing.


  1. Regular, if not daily, back-ups are a must for any electronic device! At least, that's my motto after one epic back-up fail (which included an "automated" wireless back-up system that "oops, got turned off" about the same time my old laptop died.
    Anyway, moving on . . .
    I hope your week has gone well in life and writing! Happy Weekend!

  2. I've never heard of this before but now I want to check it out. I'm in love with my Ipad.

    Have a great weekend, Jeff!

  3. Never heard of that app. If I use my iPad, I use Pages.
    And yes, send to yourself often. Although I've never had my iPad crash.

  4. Sometimes I write longhand if I'm stuck. I find it encourages me to spill out any old thing and not worry if it's good, not re-read, not edit. But in general, I just work straight on my laptop...and re-read...and edit... I can't work on virtual keyboards. They're too small. I'm glad to hear the Hanx works for you. Have a wonderful weekend, and a Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. That's so neat! I'm one of those iPadless/tabletless folks. I remember typing all my stories on an old electric typewriter. I loved the sound it made. Have a good weekend!

  6. These days I actually do all my fiction first drafts on the computer, but I still write poetry by hand. Don't know why, it just seems to work that way. I came to your blog via the blog hop and am glad I did. I love ghost stories, and your picture at the top is beautiful and haunting.

  7. I'm with you! I always write long hand first--entire books, and then I type it out on the computer. I even bought a comfy overstuffed chair around Christmas so that I could do this comfortably by a nice set of windows. I don't think they'll invent anything to make me change.

  8. Interesting. I still tend to do my writing by pencil, then I enter it onto my computer later, altering it along the way.

  9. Sounds interesting! I always write in Word on a proper computer with a keyboard, but I'm going to give Hanx a try on my iPad...

  10. Most of the time, I can't read my handwriting, so I typically type all of my drafts. And redundant word transfer makes me twitch. I can't do it. But Hanx sounds fun, though I don't have an iPad. Then again, I grew up when they had electronic typewriters too, so the sounds are not as important to me.

    It's great you found something that works for you!