Does Technology Make Us Better Writers?

dead pixels

Dead Pixels!

My laptop is sabotaging me.

There are a number of dead pixels spreading across my screen like a plague. I know it’s trying to fight them off, but it’s clear my screen is losing the battle. More and more pixels darken each week.

The charging port is loose and broken. It constantly toggles between “charging mode” and “battery mode” and it’s driving me nuts. I have to place an eight pound weight on top of plug to get it to stabilize. I’m just waiting for it to catch fire and burn down my house.

A number of keys have stopped working as well. I type this post from a USB keyboard I went out and purchased from Walmart. It will hold me over until my laptop keyboard replacement arrives from China.

I hate this laptop.

But I don’t want to get rid of it. As easy as it would be to buy a new laptop (if I had money), I wouldn’t do it. I can’t. Black Friday 2013 will mark three years that I’ve had this laptop. Despite all of its problems and the grief it’s given me, it was a good deal.

This is the first laptop I’ve worked with since I decided to get serious about my writing. Every story, every novel draft, and every screenplay I’ve written has been on this computer. It’s there, happily accepting my input when I’m on a creative streak. It’s there, staring at me, taunting me, when my story sucks and I don’t know what word to type next.

I wonder what it was like being a writer before all of these technological advances. What was it like primarily writing by hand? What was it like typing a manuscript on a typewriter? How much thought went into each word and sentence to avoid the painstaking process of having to make a correction and start over?

Were writers of yesteryear better off because of the cognitive benefits of writing by hand? Or are writers today better off because of the speed and ease with which we can put our words down and get them out in front of other people?

All I know is that my laptop is my constant companion. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it alive.

 

How To Write Without Destroying Your Body

Photo: Me & My PowerBook, Credit: Brian Moor

Credit: Brian Moor

I love writing, but sometimes my body doesn’t. If you’re like me and spend most of your day in a cubicle hunched over a keyboard, coming home to hunch over a keyboard and write isn’t the most appealing thing.

It’s no secret that sitting for long periods of time is absolutely terrible for your body. It certainly doesn’t help that most of us slouch or contort our bodies in horrifying positions.

If you want to write comfortably for decades and find success, you need to protect your body. Here are a few things you can do:

Stand Up

Philip Roth famously stood while he worked. In fact, a number of famous authors stood while they wrote and things seemed to work out just fine for them. Standing might not be the most comfortable thing to do, but it’s a good change of pace.

When I don’t want to sit, I like to place my laptop on the washing machine or on the kitchen counter and write. A better solution would be to build a standing desk. You can make one for as low as $22 using items found at Ikea. I have a similar and less glamorous set up using a piece of wood and an old popcorn tin that I am very proud of.

Yoga

Yoga is what the hip people do, right? I’m not sure, but my back loves it. It’s good to stay flexible and limber when you’re sitting all day. Here’s a basic 7 minute beginner’s routine that I like to follow often. Check it out. Your hamstrings will thank you.

Take Breaks

Get up and walk around. There are rules like ‘after every twenty minutes of sitting, you should get up and walk around for two minutes.’ That might not work for you, but you should at least get up and stretch your legs often. Get out and get some air. Clear your head, think about your story and move your legs. Go for a walk or a run. Exercising is known to boost your creativity.

Get Sleep and Eat Right

Yeah, yeah, that’s what everyone says, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Your body and your mind need to recharge and you need good nutrition to fuel them both.

Take care of your body and your writing will certainly benefit.

What do you do to help your body?

Plugging Away

When I finished NaNoWriMo at the end of November with 50k words, I estimated another 20k – 30k before I finished the story.

It’s now the end of December, I’m sitting at 75k words and I estimate I have another 20k – 25k left to write before the story comes to a satisfying conclusion.

What happened? I have no idea.

Sometimes characters do unexpected things and lead me down unexpected paths. Which is great because I have all of these new ideas that I can’t wait to work into the second draft.

It is interesting to see how much NaNoWriMo motivated me.

November = 50k words. December = 25k words

If only every month was national novel writing month.