Saturday, April 23, 2011

"T" is for Technology

Writing technology, you are my friend.  You let me write, research, edit, and communicate with an ease that past writers never knew existed.

Let me back up a bit.  Writing technology varies from state-of-the-art to any-idiot-can-use-it.  And I use it all. My least used bits of writing technology are, sadly, the pen and paper, but that's because I have terrible handwriting and waste more time trying to decipher the hieroglyphs on the page that are meant to be English words than proves to be useful.  But, I do use them. I carry a notebook around with me, or at the very least have scrap paper and a (working) pen somewhere within reach so I can jot down notes, a line of dialogue, or a short scene idea and not risk forgetting it later on.  I know some writers also use their phones to record messages to themselves if they don't have paper available.  I know the iPhone and most likely other smart phones have voice recording capability (and no, I'm not talking about calling yourself from another phone and leaving yourself a voice mail, though you could do that, too.)  

I don't use a typewriter.  Period.  I had a terrible experience growing up with using one, something about being forced to type out a ridiculously long-ass paper for my crazy seventh grade English teacher.  Even though my mother kindly took over this Sisyphean task for me, I've been scarred for life.  Some writers, and I don't know any personally, but I'm sure they're out there, insist that this is the only true way to write.  I call bullshit on that, not to mention that it sounds snooty.  I say that as long as you're comfortable using something, write the way you want to.  Whether you're cranking your novel out on ten thousand Post-It notes with a Sharpie or clicking away on an iPad, it's all good to me.  Just don't make me edit your Post-It and Sharpie novel.  I'd just get them stuck all over my clothes.

My tech of choice is a laptop.  I use a wireless keyboard with mine because I like the gently curved configuration that's easier on my wrists and will hopefully stave off carpel tunnel for years to come.  I like the portability, too.  I can take it to the library with me, or when I travel somewhere.  I can't do that with a desktop computer.  Sadly, mine is on its way out after a good four-ish year run.  I've started urging it to do what it's supposed to do, often in loud, expletive-laden tirades which, unfortunately, have no effect on its processing speed.

I don't have a tablet computer (such as an iPad) but I'm not ruling it out for any future use.  I like the way the technology is changing, but I don't want to get one just to be stuck six months later holding something that's a dinosaur compared to the awesome new thing that just came out.  I'll wait a few years.  Prices always come down as well.

Technology also gives writers access to so much.  We have a whole world of research at our very fingertips, when before, we'd have to trek to the library and slog through volumes of unhelpful materials before finding one useful nugget of information.  The internet can even help you research your research.  Yeah.  Wrap your mind around that.  If you're looking for information on a topic, you can look up places to find more information.  It's worth looking things up, because the more real (or at least plausible) your novel is, the more people will like it.  Even if it's a fantasy work, doing your research pays off.  Another awesome thing: I can send my work off to Shelley in an email attachment and she can get it back to me at her usual lightening speed thanks to computers and the web.  Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the internet.  We salute you.

If you're a writer, what technology do you benefit from and use?  Even if you're not a writer, do you have a favorite piece of technology?

xoxo Sarah


  1. When I was writing my book, I needed the name of a diner in Shreveport that I used to eat at, but I couldn't remember the name of. I used google maps to go down the street it's on and find the diner and, thus, the name of it. That was hecka cool.

  2. I know, isn't that awesome, Andrew? I love having the world at my fingertips. I was researching a job for one of my characters once, and abruptly decided that he should do something else, which I had no direct knowledge of. So, I Googled, and had everything I needed. :-)

  3. I love my pens and notebooks, and always have one with me, but I also use the voice recorder on my phone. I only really use the computer when absolutely necessary, or when I'm blogging!

    Saying hey through the A to Z

    Antimony x

  4. I blogged on technology, too, though for me it's a love/hate relationship. I just got a new 'puter (desktop, because I had to weigh power/speed/capacity vs. funds on hand - and I don't need mine to be portable) and I love the speed and power it has. Learning the new versions of programs is something of a bitch, though.

  5. An IPad is in my future just because I am a techie, Love new stuff!

    Word program is the one absolutely necessary aid beside my laptop and keyboard. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. Obviously it helps in research. But...What a Timesuck!

  6. @Antimony: You must have lovely handwriting, then. I'm jealous!

    @Beverly: Yes, learning new programs is a huge pain in the ass. Especially when you're used to something being in a certain location in the previous version and then it's all different. Makes me crazy!

    @Huntress: Ooh, lucky! You'll have to let us know how you like it. I'm with you...both love and hate the internet. It's an awesome tool, but a HUGE distraction. :-P

  7. I love my laptop. That being said, I'm with Huntress. Isn't it odd how all of these "productivity tools" can make us so unproductive? I swear, I waste more of my precious writing time on the internet...

  8. I agree with the two of you, Mickey. One of my writer friends joked on Twitter that she has "writing time, where I pretend to write but screw around on the internet, before my actual writing time." That about sums it up, lol!