As I read back over this book today I couldn’t help thinking that, whilst the majority of things relating to writing haven’t changed over the years, some things have changed dramatically since this book was first written. Those things primarily being anything relating to technology, it’s uses and it’s advances. Topics, in fact, that in some ways I kick myself for initially including in the book because anything written about them will date and, after time, offer inaccurate advice. Hence the reason for this article, I wanted to correct those insights.
Quality writing will always be quality writing, but how those words are recorded will change - as will how they are presented to a publisher, or to a reader. Therefore, when you’re in the position of selecting and acquiring your computer and software, and deciding how best to use them, your first step is always to decide exactly what you want them to provide, where and how best you want it provided, then finally any other factors that are important and specific to you.
Many years ago, it was fashionable to write using a laptop - they did, after all, have many advantages, especially when replacing the heavy and cumbersome desktop computers that we saw so often then. Unfortunately, one thing that wasn’t taken in to account then was that writing on a laptop meant that more often than not you were looking down at a monitor - a sitting position which, if used long-term, could cause no end of neck and back ache. Of course, once the ergonomics had been properly considered and corrected (by plugging in a separate keyboard and/or monitor that was used at a more appropriate height) concern over bad sitting posture became negligible.
The same is true of updated laptops, tablets and phones today. All offer great advantages for recording your writing, regardless of whether it be through typing, handwriting or speech. But you also have to be aware of their limitations and the challenges that come with them, otherwise there’s a chance you’ll miss out on some of the advantages or discover disadvantages.
For somebody like me who’s still content with my laptop, and is not at the forefront of technology, I’m still amazed with the items and opportunities available to us for writing. It’s for this reason, I strongly recommend that anyone looking at updating their computer or writing regime, seriously considers all options and their needs before going out shopping, rather than simply buying the nicest, sparkliest, new release.
After all, where are you going to be doing most of your writing? Is the size of you computer important, does it need to fit in a backpack, for example? Do you need the easy access of a phone for recording the ‘perfect’ sentence when it surprises you out of the blue? Would you prefer to type, write or speak your writing? Using what kind of software? Does that software have a free version? Can you write your complete work using that same software on your phone, tablet and computer? Is there an easy way to send your writing from one devise to another? How best to save it? How many copies should you save?
These questions are genuinely just a starting point, but hopefully they will give an indication of things to consider… and maybe even a variety of the things available to you. A writer’s desk has come a long way past a ream of A4 paper and a black metal-keyed typewriter. Actually, their desk has come a long way past computer tower, with floppy discs and Microsoft Word.
So my recommendation would always be to decide how you want to do your writing? How does it fit best around your life? Then with that knowledge on hand go exploring, see what’s available to you in shops and what other writers are using, plus, of course, doing some research online. Once you’ve done that you’re bound to have a more realistic idea of what’s out there, what really works, and of what appeals.
Technology moves fast, and yet in many ways the software and hardware needed for writing only benefits from it’s advances - it doesn’t need them or need to be cutting edge. So as with all things in similar fields, no matter the current wonders of technology, it’s always wise for your first step to be deciding the specifics of what you want and knowing what’s on offer.
Writing Information and Tips is brought to you by Elizabeth Bezant and Writing to Inspire. (c) 2002 -
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