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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 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.

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  1. 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…

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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    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.

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      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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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

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  6. 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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