Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writers - Don't Become Technologically Weakened

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was fighting with one more element of technology to supposedly "make my life easier." Hrummph! There was no making things easier. The technology simply was slowing me down. In any case, I was thinking about this when it comes to writing. Modern day authors are always spending countless hours, not to mention unbelieveable amounts of money on technology, just to make their writing better. In the end, in my honest opinion, the writing really hasn't gotten better, and, dare I say it, maybe it has gone down hill.

Take grammar checkers. We all seem to think that we don't really need to learn grammar because our grammar checkers will fix it all. The funny part is that the majority of you writers out there have no idea that your grammar checkers are not doing all that you think. When I was in Fresno at the Yosemite RWA writers chapter, we were talking about this. The majority of the writers didn't know that they were missing over 80% of the items in their writing because their grammar checker wasn't looking for the items. And for all these years, they relied on that grammar.

You don't need the lastest iPad, the newest software, or word recognition software. No, you don't need to be on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and all of the other social network sites. And no, you don't need to spend hours and money creating a video book trailer to improve as a writer. It takes intelligence. It takes creativity and yes, it takes a lot of hardwork. There are no technological shortcuts.

For a week, just as a practice, make a conscious effort to return to the writing basics. I dare you. Pull out a legal pad and a pen. No pencils because if you make a mistake, I don't want you to erase. I want to see a real rough draft. You might be amazed at the quality of the writing.



  1. I do this every so often because I feel differently creative when I pick up a notepad. It helps me get past sticking points, but I also spend a lot of time writing on the computer because eventually it will all need to be typed in and it's just easier if it starts there.

  2. Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post, Scott. The old saying goes -- the pen is mightier than the sword. And the gadgets and apps that go with them. I've always written the first draft with pen and paper. And when I transfer it to Word, I always find and catch most of my mistakes. Without grammar check. But it is handy when I forget the difference between that and which.

  3. Something that always makes me cringe is hearing someone say (and I've heard it many times) "I can't start writing this novel until I find some good writing software."

    I think you've said it well, and thanks for the reminder that there's nothing wrong with a good old fashioned notebook. (the paper kind, not the electronic kind).

  4. I sympathize with your technology issue.

    I wrote my first story with pen and paper, and I will revert to that if I need to regain focus. Ever have that moment where you've typed and reread and asked yourself, what the heck did I just write? Paper helps the edit. It's also a great way to outline a story and get to know your characters.

    As for the grammar check, it's useless. I'd get rapped on the knuckles by all my old English teachers. I reread everything several times before sending it out. At least I'll know that any mistakes are mine and not my computer's.

  5. I just got word and it likes to tell me all the time that 'its' is wrong and likes to insist I need to change it to it's when I know that rule and I know how to tell.
    Grammar checkers are useful but they aren't foolproof, you still need to consider what you're writing.
    (FYI I know I'm terrible at grammar too and need help.)

  6. I write everything by hand first in my notebooks. Then, I type the day's writing. I've done this for each of my novels and am currently on my fourth. As for grammar, nothing compares to Strunk and White's Elements of Style .

  7. Sometimes I write in a journal just to avoid seeing those squiggly green lines beneath my words. Yes, MS Word, I know it's a sentence fragment, and no, I won't consider rephrasing. It's prose. It's creative fiction. There will be some of that, and it's OK.