December 1, 2014

Wrench
Use the tools you have

You’re reading this, so I’m assuming you have a device of some sort. The statistics tells me it’s a smartphone, possibly a tablet, but it might just as well be the crappy library PC. It matters little, you can read this site, access the web as it were, and that’s where all your excuses end.

If you can do all that, then you can write.

It’s so very easy to find excuses not to write. I don’t feel like it, I’m not inspired today, I can’t write here, my computer’s old and slow, it’s too noisy, I’ll write when I’ve saved up for a new Macbook, I’m out of whisky… All those things might be true for you, but they’re not actual hurdles. You’re the one who needs to sit down and write. A new Mac won’t make you a better writer, nor will that distraction free writing artifact you’ve been reading so much about. In the end, you’re the writer, and all those things are just tools. If you lack them, find a pen and some paper. That works too, it’s been proven. And no, you don’t need a Moleskine notebook and a fancy pen to write, anything with a blank papery surface will do.

“But wait, I’m a regular reader here, and you’ve got all those things you say we don’t need!”

Yeah, I love my gadgets, my keyboards, my various tools. I love my screens, the Alphasmart NEO, my iPads and iPhones, the Macbooks, and I even love my Alienware gaming laptop because the keyboard’s nice to write on sometimes. All that’s true, so true that I wrote a book about writing on your iPad, and an article for a Swedish writer’s magazine about the iPad as the new typewriter.

Having access to all these things doesn’t make me a better writer. It just makes me privileged, and possibly a bit too obsessed with gadgets. Some of these are tools of my other trade, others are just me trying to mix things up. Because I enjoy it, and because I can. Aside from the Alphasmart NEO, which made it possible for me to write most of a novel in the sun last summer, none of these are necessary for writing (and the NEO only barely, since I’d just written indoors without it, albeit possibly a bit less). Or either one of these, if you will.

If you’ve got access to a computer, and preferably the internet for simple and instant backups of your work, then you can write. Smartphones and tablets are also computers, and although you’ll probably want an external keyboard to go with these, there really are no reasons not to be writing today. You’ve got all the devices you need, probably access to several of them, so quit your stalling and get started instead.

And if you don’t have any of these things, then there’s always pen and paper. Writer’s write.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.