It’s safe to say that being alive today is pretty damn easy. We can order pizza on Twitter without writing out a single word. Just tweet a pizza emoji and a pizza is on its way to your door. We can answer any question within seconds, thanks to our good friend Google. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there was a time before emojis, before Twitter, and before either of these things could be used to put food on the table.
As writers, we are both blessed and cursed by our laptops. Pros: We can type anywhere and we can type quickly. We can send the stuff we type to basically anybody without thinking anything of it. We have tools like spell-check, automated word count, and the list goes on.
But, sometimes we overlook the negatives of writing on laptops.
For starters, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted when you have the vast entirety of the cyber-world at your fingertips. at 7:33 you might be on a roll, forging ahead in your novel, your story, your poem, what-have-you—but by 7:41 you could be watching cat videos on Facebook or taking “Which Disney princess are you?” quizzes on BuzzFeed.
It’s also incredibly easy to over-edit when you’re writing on a laptop. You write a sentence, you re-read, you don’t like it, you re-write it, you re-read the revision, you still don’t like it, and the cycle goes on and on. Forty five minutes go by and you’ve re-written and erased the same sentence two dozen times without even being able to look back at each draft. All you have to show for your time and effort is blank white space with nothing to learn from.
Sometimes, if only for a little while, it’s important to step back from the blue-light of your Macbook screen and write how writers wrote before computers, before typewriters even: paper and pen. Recently, I’ve experimented with writing by hand. I’ve found some interesting things.
Basically, especially during National Novel Writing Month, it is important to try new things and new ways of writing. As far as practicality and convenience go, the laptop can’t be beat. But sometimes a little shake-up is the push you need to allow your best work to be produced.