advertise

Smart Writing Tool

The early computer was a journalist’s dream. It became a writer’s best pal too, as “soft copy” (electronic type) was infinitely malleable. Draft copy could be dashed out any old how, just to get the thoughts down, then edited for sense and grammar.

Ever since I started using the very earliest personal computers, I’ve thought that they were the greatest writing instrument ever devised. I now think the smartphone is even better.
Slouched on the lounge settee I tickle the phone with the ideas that pop into my head. Much of what I write I have extensively researched but the problem for me has always been to siphon off the key ideas in precis form.
Believe it or not, I am now embarking on a 40 000 word book using my phone to tap in the bits and pieces of the first draft. Granted, the irritating tiny keyboard and text correction annoy you. But at the same time you can dictate to text and so capture ideas on the fly. You can even ask Siri or Alexa to help you search.

Write anywhere, on the fly

It reminds me that the great Russian novelist Solzhenitsyn used to carry a tiny notebook and whip it out to write something. That must have been a bit disconcerting for those he was talking to but perhaps they were rewarded later by seeing their words in best-sellers.
The early computer was a journalist’s dream. It became a writer’s best pal too, as “soft copy” (electronic type) was infinitely malleable. Draft copy could be dashed out any old how, just to get the thoughts down, then edited for sense and grammar.
The first experiences I had were on rigid BASIC programming screens with numbered lines. This didn’t deter me from trying to use the large mainframe as a word processor. Soon the green lettering on black screen was superseded by the white text of Xywrite, with paragraphing and codes for functions like cutting and pasting and typographic styles. Then came the PCs with real Roman or Sans Serif typography on a paper-like white background. You learnt to define, copy, move or store versions, and Word Processors now featured spell checkers, word counters and readability fog indexers.
Eventually there was the complete suite of writing tools – and to make it all much more functional – quick access to the Internet to check facts, find references, and look for refinements of your ideas. I avoid plagiarism like the plague it is (and when teaching journ students I check for theft from online sources). But to be frank, the minds of others, paraded online in pdf papers, blog articles and Kindle books are infinitely enriching to one’s own thoughts and so EASY to access.
Nowadays I routinely access YouTube to see what’s been said about topics – it’s the world’s best open classroom – and I never finish anything without searching Google for keywords. What I find is sometimes disheartening: ideas I thought were all my own have been expressed by others. Still, that’s better than remaining blissfully unaware.
Then of course there are all the apps that make research and writing easier. To locate a place I’m writing about there are Google maps. To convert Imperial to Metric there are calculators. To understand the gist of text in a foreign language there are translators. Marvellous!
So now I sit with my ready-writing-reckoner, blissfully tapping in the fragments of a new book and wondering how I ever did without my Smartie.

tools
This entry was posted in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

conditions