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Things That Changed My Writing (Hopefully for the Better): Technology Edition

This isn't new stuff. I'm sure there are people who will chime in with their Wattpad stories or their Scrivener testimonials. If that stuff works for you, then by all means, please keep using it. Ultimately, we are all just trying to be the best writer we can be. We definitely hit a ton of snags along the way. But, if we keep at it, we (hopefully) figure out some things that help us become more efficient and more disciplined. Here are just three of the things that work for me.



1. The Twitter Community Years ago, when I didn't understand Twitter, I wrote it off as narcissistic and immature. I thought of it as the place where kids went to post Facebook statuses without all the pressure of writing very many words. At conferences, I found a lot of my colleagues were using it in interesting ways. So, when I finally decided to join up--and I made myself stick with it for longer than a few months--I found some very nifty communities. This is old news, but Twitter hashtags are really great for finding your virtual support system. I would start with #amwriting and #writerscommunity. If you're looking for motivation to get words down, check out #wordsprint--where people gather for timed speed-writing. Word sprints helped me get over my obsession with self-editing.


2. Write or Die Write or Die is a computer program that forces the user to write without ceasing. The way the program works is simple. You enter how many words you want to write and how long you would like to take to write those words, and then you hit "Write." The program pops up a blank window for your words. This keeps formatting concerns out of the way.

Write or Die's many options. Some are...clearly more intense than others.

Where the program really shines is in its "punishments" (slow down, Anastasia Steele...it's not that kind of punishment). If the writer stops writing for too long, the program blares sounds until the writing begins again. There are tons of other features, too. For instance, the screen glows red if you don't type fast enough, you can disable the save feature until a goal is reached, and you can set it to delete words behind you if you take too long, a feature called kamikaze mode. I have not tried kamikaze mode. I'm terrified.


The red screen warns that you have stopped writing for too long. Start back soon...that alarm is jarring.

There are several ways to use the program. There is a free web-based version here. There are also desktop and iPad versions for very cheap. I write or die with the desktop version, and it has completely changed the way I write. Get it and try it out. It's not for everybody, but maybe it's for you.


3. My Journal I know that this is a post about technology, but don't take the journal, or the ability to write at all for that matter, for granted. Don't forget, the writing utensil and paper--hell, a written language-- are some of the most important technological advances in history. Along with the printing press, they brought language and writing to the general public. Centuries ago, written language belonged to the elite (mostly religious "servants," or monks, and the rich). Written language spent years on stone.


But now, we can carry paper with us. We can write--write--anytime we want. I know it's convenient to be able to type on phones and computers, and I do most of my writing that way. But there is just something about opening that journal and scribbling. I don't think we do that enough anymore. I freewrite, draft, and outline in mine. I love my fucking journal. I hope you love yours, too.


Finally...

If you have any other technology-specific tools that you use that I missed, feel free to drop them in the comments.


Until next time!

-Shane




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