The first option for most people is the Pages app produced by Apple. Its a feature filled application, that almost matches the desktop version. It supports exporting to and importing from Microsoft Word and has pretty much every function you could ask for in a word processor. It also synchronizes with Apple's iCloud, so all your documents will appear across devices.Unfortunately the Pages app has had some issues with stability and the reliability of iCloud uploading. Some may prefer a more simple solution, and a cheaper price tag. The $9.99 price tag is certainly a bit steep in comparison to other solutions. You want simple. You want cheap. IA Writer is the app for the job.
This application is the polar opposite of the Pages app. There is very little in the way of a user interface. In fact, it doesnt even have a save button, and it doesn't need one. Select where your files will be saved (including options for iCloud or the people's choice: Dropbox),tap the title bar to name the file, and that's it. IA Writer will automatically save your document every few seconds. If you've set it to save to Dropbox, the app will automatically upload the new version of the file each time changes are made. IA Writer also doesn't bother with formatting options.
With no options to muck around with, and very little in the way of extraneous information on the screen, the user is forced to think about the most important part of the process: writing.
Click the button in the upper right corner and the app goes into Focus Mode. The cursor jumps to the middle of the screen instead of being situated at the end of your document. All lines of text are greyed out with the exception of the three nearest the cursor, which scrolls as you type with sort of a typewriter effect.
This is incredibly simple, but makes such a huge difference. Greying out the previous text prevents the user from being distracted by earlier paragraphs. Moving the cursor from the near-bottom of the screen to almost eye level means focus is properly placed on every word typed. The blank space after the typed text activates the innate urge to continue to fill the page. With no word counts on the screen, you are focused on getting your ideas out, not filling a quota. It all comes together to create a zen-like writing experience. Brilliantly simple.
Some users will need more advanced formatting for their writing. Here is where the automatic Dropbox sync comes in handy. Get the basic skeleton of your piece out while mobile or away from your computer, then once you get back to your desk, your texts will be right there waiting in your Dropbox folder. Copy into Microsoft Word, or your chosen desktop application for advanced formatting. This is great for blog entries as well. Simply paste the text into WordPress or Blogger, and format/add links as necessary.
In the midst of an overstimulating digital world, writing using this method provides a laser sharp focus that makes the process enjoyable again. The single task, full screen nature of the interface helps to remove distractions, bells and whistles and put focus on converting thoughts to words on the page.
So there you have it! A simple, clean solution for those who need to do writing work using iPad. Both Dropbox and IA Writer are available for free in the App Store. Try this solution out and report back on your experiences!