On a sunny day, there's nothing nicer than sitting outside and writing under the shade of an apple tree. Even in the shadiest of spots, though, I tend to find the glare is too much for using a computer screen. On the other hand, I gave up writing by hand when I realised that I only had to type everything up again once I'd finished.
I was, therefore, pretty happy to discover a pen that stores your writing. The Livescribe pen was recommended to me by a friend who finds it helpful for her dyslexia, and when I managed to find an older model going cheap, I snapped it up.
The pen uses special paper with a pattern of tiny dots, and can also record audio, although I don't use that feature very much. Mine is the Echo model, with internal storage for 8GB of data - which is quite a lot of writing! The battery life is amazing, too, so it's ideal for making notes on a long journey if I don't have access to a socket to recharge my computer. Combined with handwriting recognition software, I find that I can write on real paper and still end up with a usable word-processor document.
I do have to be careful that I press the pen hard enough against the paper in order to cause it to start recording, and performance is better if I use a table rather than just holding the notebook. But on the other hand, the writing recognition software is much better than I expected, and seems to use a decent language model to predict real words wherever possible (in several languages - I've used the English and Turkish models). From several pages of input, I've only had to correct a couple of typos.
I'm going to be attempting NaNoWriMo this year, but to make it more complicated than previous years, I'm going to be visiting my dad in Turkey for some of the month. Last time we did that during November, I got nowhere near 50,000 words, as I don't really like to travel with a computer. I'm hoping that having a digital pen is going to make it more achievable this year.
If you're interested in buying a Livescribe pen, you can get 15% off smartpens in the US store by using my affiliate link. (I get a small bonus for sending you over, but I wouldn't recommend this if I hadn't bought and loved my own!)