Not all that long ago, writers practiced their craft with exactly one piece of technology: the typewriter. It was a heavy, bulky thing, eventually moving from the mechanical world into the electronic one, and then morphing into something more portable. Later, it became a computer, which nowadays is standard writer fare. Most of us can’t imagine a world where we can’t tote around a laptop—while others have become so savvy with smaller, more portable devices, such as the ipad and cell phone, that even a laptop sounds like old news. (This post was brought to you in part by the WordPress app of my iphone, after all—not my favorite mode, but handy on the go.)
Yes, the times, they are a-changin’, making a plethora of technological advancements available to help your writing along. Programs like Scrivener provide entire writing “studios,” enabling authors to organize, research, structure, and format (among other features) far beyond the writing itself. The Dragon series of software allows dictation into a headset or remote microphone for easy transcription. Various editing programs both for purchase and on the internet (like Smart-Edit) help authors fine-tune prose, whether through spelling and grammar checks, or more complex functions such as flagging overused phrases or clichés, or counting specific word usages. These are just a few of the many computer-based assists available to writers.
Then, of course, we have a bounty of social media outlets to connect with readers and other writers—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Tumblr, G+, etc—all methods the writers of yore most certainly never imagined. Truly, there are options, options, and even more options, some of them helping authors to overcome hurdles that might have originally kept them from the craft, or advancing in it.
So I suppose this begs the question—are all of these tech tools necessary? I myself am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to software. I operate on a Mac, starting long ago on PageMaker (the blame goes to my mother on this, since she was in advertising and it fit the house requirements), then switching to InDesign. Eventually I caved into Word because it was simpler, but since I’m fairly stubborn I used Open Office…until I started having all sorts of formatting conflicts. Now, it’s Word. Just Word. Sure, I use social media programs, and occasionally run a Smart-Edit when I can be bothered to open up my old netbook since the software only runs on PCs. I also picked up Dragon Dictate for a while, but I haven’t gotten much into it. For the most part, I’m an old school student of the new school—new school being A.T.: the After Typewriter era—which leaves me armed with just my computer and Word. Heck, I’ve even been so tech-boring as to bust out a pen and paper when I have an idea at work, and then scrawl two to three pages by painfully slow longhand to type up later!
Technology is grand. Technology is the future. Right? But writing is writing. Whatever it takes to get you writing is good, whether it be gadgets or mind-blowing software or even the rattle of a little radio in the background. I’m not sure where all this tech will lead, but I often wonder if for some it’s an advancement, or a hinderance.
What about you—what are the tech tools you use for your writing? Do you find that they help, or hinder you? If you don’t use anything “fancy,” do you wish you did?
Please share your thoughts below, I’d love to know!
And for now, it’s time to sign off [another piece of tech: WordPress]. Until next time…