Bad Habits Created by Bad Technology

It finally happened. I had to admit, my computer was unusable. If it wasn’t folding in on itself due to having unexpected errors, it was not responding. I’m not sure what made me cling on to it for quite as long as I did. Money, partly but also the thought of having to choose a new machine. Anyway, the upshot is, I now have a marvellous mac mini and I can actually work again.

I hadn’t realised exactly how much I was affected by my computer’s bad behaviour. I find myself unable to concentrate for extended lengths of time as if I was writing then Word would inevitably not respond or it would close down unexpectedly and I would sit with the IPad and play The Sims while I waited for it to recover itself. Now I find myself wanting to break off after I’ve written a couple of paragraphs. I’m having to be really disciplined with myself or I wouldn’t get anything done.

Still, it does mean I’m catching up on some of the editing / re-writing I need to get through with Choose Yr Future. At least part of my reluctance to get on with this was the soul destroying nature of trying to battle with a PC that doesn’t want to co-operate. And hopefully that means beta-readers soon. And then publishing. I’m feeling excited again.

The Pen is mightier than the IPad

Despite the fact that I have an IPad, a macbook and a PC in my house, I still find myself writing first drafts on paper. It may be my age (I know that is starting to sound like a dubious catchphrase) but I definitely view writing work up on a computer as a second stage, as some sort of best version. By the time I write anything on the PC it has already been re-worked a few times on paper. (A sign that it is my age: until recently the English exam board demanded that one piece of coursework be handwritten. The students wrote their work on the computer and then copied it out in their best handwriting. I didn’t see why the PC needed to be involved at all.)

Part of the problem with writing straight on to the computer – for me anyway – is that getting ideas down can often feel quite urgent and isn’t always perfect. The ideas are key and need to be expressed. However, often you know straight away that the wording will need to be changed or perhaps you find that you’ve used the same word a few times. But the idea, that is pressing and you need to concentrate on that or potentially lose its immediacy. On paper, it is very easy to indicate what may need to be changed later with circling, underlining and with arrows and footnotes. Not so much electronically.

And once the idea is born, it is very easy to feed it with detail as you type it up so that the version on the PC is fleshed out and stronger than the first. I suppose it is a case of old habits die hard as I first started writing when I was a student 20 years ago when all I had was a word processor which was less than user friendly and now it’s just the way I work. Even though I love my IPad unreservedly (unlike my kindle which I still sort of view as a wolf in sheep’s clothing as if one day it will bite my hand off) I can’t see this process changing.