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Does technology help you write?

Topic #281: Does technology help you write? One comical thing about writers and writing is they often ask each other…

Topic #281:

Does technology help you write?

One comical thing about writers and writing is they often ask each other if there is a secret tool, or software, they use that makes writing easier. Some writers swear by a particular tool, or keyboard, or special software (or WordPress plugin), while others see tools as ways to help with scheduling, or writing related tasks, but see the process of writing simply about putting their but in the chair.

Now that you’ve been writing for awhile, does technology help or not help you in the writing process? What do you wish a tool like WordPress could do to help?

Topic submitted by Spencer at the New Items blog.

58 Comments

  1. To be honest technology neither helps nor hinders my writing. As long as I have an implement to write with – pen/pencil/lipstick/computer keyboard -and something to write on I am happy. Although obviously a computer and printer are handy for redrafting following an edit and of course emailing and blogging is useful for feedback but still, I think I’d be writing no matter technology. Oral delivery is always plausible.

  2. I tend to be old school when I write, am a pen and paper girl literally,however I love WordPress due to its flexibility and solid following and cool features!

  3. Technology defines helps me. I’ll blog about it this week to tell you how. Plus there are a dozens things I wish wordpress could do! K

  4. I agree that the only secret to writing is to sit in your chair. That being said, technology works best for me. I can’t read my handwriting, especially when I’m trying to write as quickly as my head thinks things up. A keyboard helps me capture my thoughts.

  5. Technology provides too many distractions for me. Being online makes it way too tempting to click over to my email or facebook when I get stuck on a particular line or idea. It is of course instrumental for editing purposes and for helping me share finished work, but when it comes to creating new work, I need a pen or pencil and a notebook, and some good music (live or a favorite CD) to put me in the mood to write. A cup of coffee always helps, too.

  6. I would never write on a typewriter, and I stopped writing in my journal a few years back just because I became so busy, I stopped having it available.

    Is it easier to write and share on a computer, yes. Better still is the ability to add the media that enhances the writing and helps present a clearer picture of what I am trying to put out there.

  7. It’s about what and what for me–sometimes my thoughts come faster than my fingers can move, and I tend to make more typos when I write (especially when I decide to use cursive). The one good thing is that when I type I can usually find stuff again more quickly. As for software or programs that aid the writing process, meh. Buttinchair is the only solution for that.

  8. Technology is of great help, except when using a tablet Or a tablet Or a touch sgreen cell. The darn thing drives me nuts ! Which is what i am using now. It has been five months and I tried still miss my Blackberry.

  9. Sure, but writing is one thing and getting your niche in the market is another.
    They don’t teach that in schools.
    The publishers don’t tell you hat too or how to about getting it. They want to market your product at a very high cost and there’s no guarantee either,

  10. Technology definitely helps me. I think faster than I can handwrite, so the keyboard is great. I use OmmWriter software and WordPress’ distraction-free screen to help me focus. Ambient music, such as David Ummmo help me concerntrate, as well. The computer also makes it easier to rearrange ideas and paragraphs. However, when it comes down to it, you simply need to have the motivation to sit down and start writing.

  11. Technology has definitely helped me with writing. I can type pretty fast, so my train of thought just keeps flowing straight from my brain onto the screen. If I had to write with pen and paper, it would’ve taken a little longer. Honestly, I like the way WordPress is right now, and I wouldn’t want it to “pull a Facebook” and update every freaking month. Maybe a few changes here and there, but that’s it.

  12. You bet it does! Anyone who has ever dealt with typewriters, carbon paper, and that awful gooey white-out stuff knows how freeing a computer can be. Without those things to worry about, you can just let the creativity flow, knowing all the little mistakes can be magically erased when you are ready to deal with them.

    Technology makes research tremendously easy. I used to keep a notebook by the typewriter with a list of facts to look up at the library when I made my weekly visit. I would be in the Reference room for hours searching and jotting down facts and figures. Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the library (not everything is online) but not as often or as desperately.

    I love the sharing aspect of technology, as well. When I want to celebrate, or I hit a rough spot, my critique partners are just a click away.

  13. Yes. It. Does.

    I’ve always hated writing by hand, especially since I’m left-handed. I don’t know if it’s how I hold the pen/pencil or anything but it really sinks into the side of my middle finger and it gets all purple and painful.

    I’m really glad I mastered touch typing, let me tell you…

  14. Yes technology helps me write. Spell correct or Word Perfect helps me because I’m a lousy speller. Use of an edit option before publishing a longer comment or story is a technical service that I find very useful as well. I like to see my statement in whole without scrolling. Research on the Internet is an obvious advantage too.

  15. Yes, yes, yes. My high school graduation present was a manual typewriter. When I first started working as a reporter we used electric typewriters and carbon paper. Then the first word processors arrived – a whole new way to write. Now I can’t write without my laptop. And my handwriting is terrible.

  16. There is nothing like the feeling of a pen or pencil gently gliding across a sheet of paper while collecting the thoughts of an inspired mind. I was raised within the digital era but I’m certainly an old soul when it comes to writing. There’s just something about the feel and the sound of penmanship.
    -AJM

  17. technology doesn’t help the writing process but it does make it easier when I make changes. The most helpful tool in the first writing process is a notepad and a pen and a healthy dose of imagination.

  18. I am required to write almost everyday as part of my job. Technology allows me to use tools for spelling and research, and, to make updates to documents quickly and professionally.

    I was never handy with a typewriter, so this would be a hindrance for me as far as creativity.

    For creative writing, I use a laptop but sometimes prefer a journal as far as a first draft. An example of this is when I’m traveling on business. Using a journal relaxes me when I’m in the airport and in flight. On occasion I’ve even used a fountain pen. Even though my fingers get a bit of ink on them I enjoy the sensation of ink and paper.

    I don’t mind writing in longhand. I learned penmanship in elementary school and had to use that for quite some time! In order to preserve what I’ve written I may transfer everything to the laptop. I can then continue editing until I reach a finished product.

  19. Somehow putting the pen to the paper tends to help me get an outline figured out for a longer piece; but technology definitely helps when it is time to fill out the “bones”. I am definitely one who appreciates the fact that the keyboard does a lot better at keeping up with my thoughts than the pen does! :) Plus, editing is tremendously simplified on a computer!

  20. I don’t know if technology helps, but I like it. I’m a writer who goes to the journal and cup of tea before I’m even awake and in that space, writing by hand works better for me. But writing the blog, i.e. technology, has also made me a better writer. I c0mpose faster and trust my sentences. That’s translated to when I work on my book length manuscripts-i.e. technology has helped me in craftsmanship. And like Sheila above, a keyboard keeps up with my thoughts–the thing is, first thing in the morning, my thoughts aren’t exactly racing. Ergo: paper and pen is fine.

  21. Nada raro será que pronto y parece que ya es posible: Tengamos “Oraciones predeterminadas” que reemplacen a la que escribamos, mejorada, parecida, en tono sarcástico, crítico, burlón, humorístico etc.
    Ya son pocos quienes usan lápices para escribir sobre un tema; salvo para hacer apuntes de referencia (referenciales). La tecnología es buena y abrumadora reemplazante de lo clásico.

  22. No, technology does not help me write.
    It also is rapidly diluting my ability to type and spell well.
    But it does help me sell my writing. Too bad, or I could turn it all off. Sighs.

  23. I had no idea my spelling is as bad as it is until the spell-checker came along. You see, once you leave the environment where your spelling is corrected, no one tells you you have spelled a certain word incorrectly so you carry on making the same mistake. When I think of all the love letters I wrote, I cringe.

  24. In terms of the creative process? No not really – technology is an enabling agent that makes you putting your ideas into fruition much easier. No amount of technology can help you be creative really, I’ve seen it and done it being a designer. The inspiration is already there anyway – you just need to make it happen.

  25. i’am not a writer and word press help me hone my ability to write. technology help in one way but ideas flows with one’s imagination, pen and journal in easy access, keyboard when your up and ready to sit.

  26. Really… hmm technology is only distracting… didn’t much improve or worsen my writing… though the thesaurus in Microsoft Word is very helpful! But either I write with paper and pen or with my dear MW… it’s just the same I guess…

  27. Yes, absolutely. I can type much faster than hand-write, and it comes out readable. My handwriting tends to be difficult to read. Also, instant feedback on grammar is very helpful, as well as spelling fixes for words I often mess up. And finally, if I’m in the middle of something and I want a thesaurus, to check a date or fact, or to check usage or spelling it is at my fingertips on the internet.

  28. I’ve often been told that if all you needed to be a doctor was bad handwriting, I’d be one seven times over. If I take my time and write slowly and put lots of effort into it, I can actually have very pristine handwriting. I’ve done plenty of calligraphy and other forms of lettering. But when I’m doing that, it’s more like I’m drawing the letters rather than writing them. Drawing letters and words is the same as drawing anything else. It’s a process that focuses more on the shape of the object than what that object means. As a result, putting ideas to paper takes much longer. Writing by hand (penmanship), on the other hand, is purely a mechanical output of thought. While it is something that requires some training to begin with, ultimately it happens without cognitive thought regarding the shapes being made. Because of this, writing letters and words by hand goes faster than drawing. Herein lies my problem. Artistic abilities such as drawing tend to improve the more they are used. Penmanship, on the other hand, becomes a chore the more it is used, and thus, (at least for me) becomes worse and worse. If I were to jot things down in a notebook or something to reference later, there would be no point. Often, I have difficulty reading my own writing more than 30 minutes after I wrote it. It’s not impossible to read, but it does take entirely too much effort to transcribe. Because of this, most of my writing is done by typing. I can usually keep up with the speed that my brain is working at, and still manage to read what comes out, which is a feat I guarantee is impossible for me using penmanship.

    1. Oh, but . . .
      Some of us never do make the change to automatic transfer of thought. Or maybe we never give up the calligraphy aspect of writing. Or something. Then, what we have is writing that uses the art-part of the brain. Thought then must be filtered through the artistic filter and becomes art. For this reason, if I am hand writing a piece, it is, mmm, I guess better, in my opinion, than if I am typing. But if I type, I often pause, close my eyes, visualize the words written by hand (or even visualize my hand writing the words) just to find my thoughts, as if the art filter captured them or the hourglass is turning, but only in the art area, or something I just cannot explain, but for me, handwriting works better.
      Then I must retype, but the work, itself, is better.
      In my opinion.

      1. I can definitely see your point, and for you and probably others, that may be true. For me, such is not the case. Despite being left-handed and having a good eye for drawing, I still tend to be very technical. I always did better at technical drawing than real artwork. My artwork always had a sense of technical precision about it, even if not particularly detailed.

        I feel that some of this is due to how my brain seems to work. Every test I’ve ever taken regarding brain dominance shows me as perfectly balanced, or very near perfectly balanced. I may have one or two areas where I lean strongly to one side, but then I have one or two areas that go toward the other. Most, though, hit dead center.

        I also suspect that my interests and hobbies when I was younger play into this as well. For now, I’ll just mention that I taught myself to type when I was either 11 or 12. It was shortly thereafter that I got a Commodore 64 for Christmas and began coding. I never wrote any of my programs out before I began them, not even as a flow-chart, pseudocode, or a concept. (Terrible programming practice, I know. But hey, I was barely a teenager.) I did my thinking while typing. I suppose that has transferred to my writing as well.

  29. Once I realized I could schedule when posts are published, I now maintain a reasonable schedule. So yes, technology helps greatly.
    Another tool I love is Evernote. Now when I have ideas I can sort them to what blog I want to write for, or tuck in a folder for story or article ideas. Its now available on my computer or Iphone.

  30. I responded to the prompt in the post above. I had a great time writing on the subject and it made me appreciative of the wonderful tools technology has offered us so far… However, it still can’t think or write for us… :-)
    Eliz
    Mirth and Motivation

  31. Sure, it can help me write. But I feel kind of disconnected if I don’t have at least the plot or something physically written down. Honestly, if most publishers didn’t require e-mails and still accepted snail mail, I’d send it in that way with my type-writer. But alas, times have changed. :/

    I guess I could try to use it more to my advantage, but eh.

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