Tools of the Trade
By Sara Davison
There are several questions I always hope not to be asked in an interview, and one of those is which writing tools I use when writing my novels. Although I know my response is so 1980’s, I always have to answer, do my word processor and imagination count?
Did you know that in the 1950’s the U.S. government formed a committee to investigate how, with the rise of technology aimed at simplifying their lives, people were going to spend all the free time they suddenly had on their hands?
From our vantage point in 2015, we laugh at that, given what we now know: that all that technology purportedly designed to simplify our lives has actually ended up complicating it beyond all reason and comprehension.
Today we suffer, not from too much time on our hands, but from too much stress, too much information, too much exposure (of ourselves to everyone else, and everyone and everything else to us), too little downtime, and far too little face-to-face interaction with other human beings.
All this to say that, in my humble opinion, while technology can be a wonderful thing, it can also add unnecessary stress to our lives, complicating what was initially (and for thousands of years) a relatively simple process. Like writing.
Scrivener. Evernote. Dropbox. Livescribe. Storify. Skyword. Enso writer. Textilus. Zoho Writer. I hear these words over and over, and they run through my mind like the exotic names on the spice bottles in the international aisle at the supermarket. Sure, they sound intriguing. Sure, they may add zest and flavour. But is it worth taking the chance that my digestive system may be thrown completely out of whack if I try them out? Umm, no. And frankly, I’m not about to rush out and test any of those exotic spices either.
And so I have, thus far, resisted jumping onto the writing tools bandwagon.
I admit there are times when I do glance out my window as one of those aforementioned bandwagons drives by, loaded with cheering passengers all waving brightly coloured flags and lustily singing songs extolling the virtues of a brand new product, service or idea, and a twinge of curiosity ripples through me. This is generally followed by a hint of regret as I watch the wagon rumble off into the distance and disappear. Inevitably though, both the curiosity and regret fade, replaced by relief that I don’t have to experience yet another learning curve, or spend days or weeks or months attempting to force my already near-saturated brain to absorb new information.
I can just write.
While I remain a conscientious objector to this brand of technology, I’m the first to admit there may be very good reasons for jumping onto this particular bandwagon. Many, if not most, of the writers I admire use these tools and claim they have transformed their lives and writing careers completely. Everyone needs to find what works for them and go with that. It is important though to distinguish wants from needs. So many writers tell me they simply couldn’t write if they didn’t have at the very least a computer, and preferably all the fancy new writing software, but of course, strictly speaking, that’s not true. For thousands of years writers have found a way to write, from Dostoyevsky scratching on his prison walls to J.K. Rowling scribbling notes on a napkin at a coffee shop because she couldn’t afford a computer. Writers have to write, and stripped of every bit of software and hardware they thought they couldn’t live without, they will somehow find a way.
And possibly even find themselves with a little free time on their hands when all is said and done.
About this Contributor:
Sara Davison has been a finalist for three national writing awards: Best New Canadian Christian Author; Best Column – Single; and Best Novel – Mystery or Suspense. Davison is a member of three different writers’ groups, two of which she helped to found. Her favourite way to spend the days (and nights) is drinking coffee – a running theme throughout her novels – and making stuff up.
Visit Sara’s website: Choose to Press On
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