After seeing the movie, Ruby Sparks, a movie about a novelist whose character comes to life as his dream girlfriend, I couldn’t help but notice the unspoken implication throughout the movie: Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say that the film seems to imply that his personal growth is complete when he packs up the typewriter and enters the digital age with a shiny new MacBook loaded with Microsoft Word –end of movie.
The main character seemed to have magic at his fingertips when writing on his typewriter throughout the movie! Was an underlying message in this movie that the magic of writing was stored in the days of yore? Typewriter ribbon is fun and magical but technology is essential to progress?
Does that message have merit? Depends on how you look at it. As a writer, I have to admit that nothing is more intimidating than staring at a blank document with a blinking cursor daring you to begin writing. At the same time, nothing is more satisfying than hitting the word count button and finding I’ve written even more than I’ve realized. My laptop is never far from my reach and recently, I’ve been thinking about my very complicated love/hate relationship with word processors.
The best and worst thing that ever happened to me was getting a laptop to work on my writing. On one hand, all documents are easily saved and mistakes easily edited. The opportunity to research is just a few clicks away with a search engine query and an internet connection. On the other hand, distractions are also merely clicks away – once when attempting to work on a short story, I wasted about three hours exploring all of the different fonts loaded onto my computer and downloading about a hundred more.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some great things that an internet-connected laptop can do for writers. As much as it can contribute to procrastination, it can also contribute to inspiration. Every November, NaNoWriMo connects thousands of aspiring novelists. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can connect you with your favorite published authors if they maintain their own pages. In fact, back in the days of MySpace, I used the networking site to connect with one of my favorite authors at the time and landed an interview for my high school paper.
It comes down to personal preference – some of us insist on writing hunched over a typewriter, channeling the voice of some of their favorite past authors and writing in what they believe to be the most traditional way of writing. Others are attached to their laptops hitting the save button after every sentence. Some people are purists and do all of their drafting with a pen and paper and no technology whatsoever (gasp, how primitive!)
So, my fellow bloggers/writers, what do you think? Is your laptop your security blanket, or do you walk around with a moleskin notebook in your pocket? Do you think technology now is essential to the success of modern writers? Tell me what you’re thinking here or send me a tweet about @msamandarush and let’s exchange some words about words.