How to handwrite your papers and get type in response

I write using Word, Google docs and Scrivener. But when I want to get away from the screen and keyboard I use my Livescribe pen. I have had a series of them and used them extensively for many years. I write in a Livescribe notebook then my handwriting is transcribed to text and I can copy it straight into my documents.

As a visual thinker it’s great because I can sketch and make diagrams that immediately become PDFs that are to share or refer to later, whether or not I have my actual physical notebook with me. It’s also useful for field notes and research journals. You have the physical journal afterwards as PhD evidence. I’ve noticed that people are less intimidated by me writing in a notebook than audio or video recording them, so it’s good in ‘first meeting’ situations. I also feel that I am more engaged with people I’m interviewing when I jot down notes.

An unexpected side effect is that my handwriting has got neater! If I write too messily I get back Dada poetry from the transcription tool, so I’m encouraged to write more clearly (at least at the level of forming my letters  – it can’t help me with grammar etc.)

The pens record audio and I sometimes use that at conferences. I’ve also used it to make animations but that’s another story. I’ve had 3 pens over the years.

Things I love:

  • Getting away from the screen
  • Choice between lined and plain paper note books

Things I loath:

  • The LED displays always stop working, now I can only tell if it’s on or off by a quick record and stop tap, that lets me know with the ‘beep’ that the power is on. But that only takes a second or two and for me is much better than the ridiculously expensive LED display repair.
  • I bought a wifi version and it didn’t translate to type, probably does now but I’m sticking with my “Echo” model until it dies.

Click to see what the handwriting looks like auto transcribed with no corrections by me


I have no connection to the Livescribe company

Capti: how to do the laundry and read papers at the same time

I’m always on the lookout for ways to bring some variety to my reading and writing. For example, I’m committed to the pomodoro technique and break every 20-25 minutes when I’m reading, writing and lecturing. Even though I take a break to look out of the window and rest my eyes by focussing long distance, I still get fed up and headachey when I’m reading and writing on screen for many hours a day.

So, recently I’ve been using the free app, Capti Narrator. It reads any document or ebook to me. I get a break from the screen and can do laundry while hearing a text read to me. I’ve found it useful for first ‘reads’ and  I like the way I can switch from iPad to iPhone and it knows where I left off.

I have no connection to the Capti Narrator company