Ask any group of writers what technology they can’t live without and you’ll get the same handful of answers…
The voice-recording app on one’s phone…
…over and over again.
(Rare is the astute writer who notes I in no way specified writing-related technology. Few ever answer “my fridge” or “my stove” or “my furnace in the dead of winter”.)
The problem with writing-related tech is that it does little to account for the writing life as a whole.
As a point of comparison, consider the important markers that define a healthy lifestyle: sure, exercising five days a week will give you a hard, hot body that will turn heads on any beach. But if you’re also an insomniac, chain-smoking stress cadet, how healthy can you truly claim to be?
Writing is no different. Getting words down on a page is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg; there’s a lot more supporting it beneath the surface that’s not readily seen.
Here’s some tech that helps me, at least, take care of, not just the writing, but also the person doing the deed, to promote a more holistic writing life:
1) Quality computer speakers
Earbuds make music sound like it was recorded inside a giant tin can. Writing to music not only helps me get into the writing “zone”, it also helps me better conceptualize the events I’m trying to create, like how a movie soundtrack intensifies the emotional viewing experience. I’m of the opinion that bringing my story to life through the best sound quality possible will lead me to transcribe what I’m seeing with the best words and phrasing possible.
2) A white noise machine
Sleep is a writer’s best friend, not only because it helps give one the energy to write, but also because many a plot hole or problematic character can be smoothed out in those ephemeral moments just entering or just departing sleep, or in dreams.
But so many writers are chronically sleep-deprived from staying up too late or getting up too early to put in the word count. What your sleep lacks in quantity can be counteracted with increased depth and continuity via some soothing sounds of nature, particularly if various noisy disruptions (neighbours, trucks, pets, kids) further erode your zzzs.
There’s nothing like turning up somewhere (particularly one’s job) with computer-induced red eye and dry eye so bad, it looks more like you’ve spent the last 12 hours drinking whiskey, running lines, and running from the law. F.lux can help. F.lux is a program/app that adjusts the colour temperature of your computer (or phone or tablet) screen according to the time of day, reducing the blue light emitted by the screen’s display. Exposure to blue light at night is said to delay and disrupt sleep (yet another attack on our sleep).
4) A treadmill
Yeah, I said it! Don’t think of it as a torture track, but rather an ideas track. When one’s body is occupied with dull, repetitive, distraction- and obstruction-free motions or actions (of which struggling to remain breathing counts), the mind goes off in all sorts of unknown, creative places. Or maybe those are just asphyxiating hallucinations…
5) A pen
I didn’t say the best tech for writers had to be electronic either, did I? Every writer should go back to his/her writing roots every once and a while. There’s something almost primal about the scritch-scratch of ink across a page, and they say different brain pathways are activated when writing longhand vs. on the computer.
Question: What other tech is good for the whole writer?