Writing Tip: Appreciate the Computer

The computer allows us to combine our left and right brain. What would Dostoyevsky have to say about the two-handed writing we do today at the keyboard?

I can take a piece I created by hand and put in into the computer. From there I can work magic, easily cutting, pasting, moving in and out as I please. I keep a separate pitch file for those darlings that I feel have to be killed. Then, I have a file of material can use elsewhere. This simple step, thanks to the computer, makes it a whole lot easier to cut when necessary.

The computer is forgiving. The word left out, the missed capital, whatever I do, it can be fixed in a trice! And without having to retype, I have a perfectly clean copy.

How we have been set free by the computer! I can write almost everywhere I like, even in the most unlikely places. I carry my pieces and tools with me wherever I may roam. I can store and retrieve previous versions in an instant. With the Internet or a smart phone I have access to my very own “research department.”

I have to admit, previous versions haunt me. I have desperately clung to a lot of paper from long-term book projects. But the computer can help with that neurosis, too. How can I possibly find that scene by the window when the sun was setting and he professed his love for her, in all those boxes of paper? On the computer I can keep as much as I want, without any more space than a thumb drive. And when I want that scene, I have a good chance of finding it.

Though we can’t put our complete faith in it, “Spell Check” can save a lot of time and sometimes embarrassment. It’s easy to get to writing too fast and misspell or misplace words. The computer will try to catch that for us.

Files can be shared with others. “Track Changes” can keep a record of the changes each make. People on opposite ends of the world, as long as they agree on the language, can work together with ease.

I have heard there is software which guides plotting. I have never used one myself, but it’s an intriguing idea. Maybe, like the Thesaurus, it would help me to pick the right plot. Perhaps it takes the place of my antiquated system of making index cards to watch the plot move ahead. I don’t know much about it. I may try one and report on it. In the meantime, the computer has made it even easier to construct a story.

The computer allows us to work anywhere, including home-based. Add Skype and phone and you are connected to the entire world. Let’s not forget that the computer is our delivery system. Free and fast!

Thank you computer for all you do for writers! I wish to remember how much I depend on my constant companion, before the next time it glitches or crashes.



Filed under Writing Well

3 responses to “Writing Tip: Appreciate the Computer

  1. If someone wrote a story or an essay in long hand and then wrote a story or an essay on a computer, would it be composed in a different voice? And what if you used a dictaphone—would it be different from the long hand version or the typed version?

    I really don’t have a writer’s temperament. My thoughts flow much more quickly than my ability to write. Sometimes I think that a dictaphone or a tape recorder would be better for me to use. For me, typing works better than writing in long hand.

    • Alexandra Coulter

      Thanks for your comments, Tim! Interesting questions you pose. I do not believe that the voice would be different between long hand or computer. We hope it’s the consistent voice of the author. However, it might read differently if you read it typed as opposed to hand written. The emotional impact could be effected. Speaking from a writer’s point of view, a dictaphone allows for the errors and trip ups in speech that the written can reveal and eliminate. Still, recording is a good place to start. Especially if you prefer typing to handwriting. Though I do believe writing by hand makes for a more direct connection to the heart.

  2. Pingback: Last Week in my Blogosphere ~ | The Positive Slant On the Path

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