Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Love Letter to Technology

I’ve written many times in this space about how I try to regulate and maintain my writing time despite having two small children, a full-time job, and need-to-do freelance.

I talk about it so much because it’s difficult.

And I know I’m not the only one who finds it so.

You’d think our passions would come the easiest, but instead it’s often easiest to push them aside for “real” things you have to do every day—pay the bills, make dinner, give kisses every night.

I wrote in January about how I’d started the New Year trying to write at least a hundred-word snippet each day, no matter what. It was my way to avoid letting a day go by where I didn’t exercise my passion, even just a little bit. (And I’m further motivated by a sticker chart…so WIN.)

And though I’ll talk in greater detail in an upcoming post about how well that resolution to myself and sticker chart have turned out, I thought today I’d talk about something that has made me much more successful in my writing goals than I thought I’d be back when I had my daughter in September: my phone.

I’ve had various iterations of a smartphone for years, and right now I have an iPhone 6 that I got just a week after my daughter was born. Obviously, these phones are amazing inventions—little machines that can do so many things, so quickly, that I have a friend who used to call them “God phones” because it seemed like there was nothing they couldn’t do. She was kidding, but you get her drift.

With the baby (who turns six months old today!), I spend a lot of time on my phone. Not only have I spent waaaaay too much time taking and posting pictures of her, I also have managed to squeeze in a TON of writing time on my phone.

The notes function I have is complete genius. I can type out dialogue a few key lines or even a whole chapter (yep) on my phone during stolen moments when I’m feeding the baby or in the middle of cardio at the gym, and it’s right there waiting for me when I want to revisit it.

Most of the time, I type things up at night or first thing in the morning and then open the same notes app on my Mac and watch it populate with what’s on my phone. Then, I type what’s fresh into my actual Word document (I could cut and paste, but you know from my last post that I like to revise as I go) and ta-da, instant forward momentum on a manuscript.

Honestly, if any of the three manuscripts I’m working on right now ever becomes a real, live book, I’ll probably thank the geniuses at Apple for helping me carve out writing time.

Oh, and though I do enjoy handwritten notes to myself on my work, I must say this is much more convenient and eliminates the chances that I can’t read my handwriting (which happens a little too often).

In what way does technology help your writing?


  1. In several categorizing systems I am labeled a visualizer. One difficulty visualizers have is organizing. We know HOW it should be done, but would rather do something else.

    Email programs and Scrivener have done wonders for helping me store information WHERE I CAN FIND IT (eventually).

    ~ Jim

  2. I knew there was a notes function on my iPhone (5), but I never thought to use it let alone upload my notes to my MacBook Pro. Needless to say, I am under utilizing this technology. One reason, though, is that I hate typing on that small on-screen keyboard. I like my computer keyboard so much better.

    When I drive, I plot. I probably should verbally record my thoughts. I can't imagine being able to text and drive as so many dangerously do. I have, on occasion, blind-written notes to myself while driving. I'm not too bad at it, placing a pad and pen on the seat next to me. Keywords are big with me in this notation mode.

  3. EB -- How about using your iPhone as a digital recorder so you can keep your eyes on the road. I'm sure there's another app that could convert your voiced words to text.

    ~ Jim

  4. I think that's a good solution, and yet I find that video and sound recording tends to wear my battery down quickly. Hate to say it, but I probably should go back to the future and get a portable Walkman recorder. I don't have to have word-for-word text conversion. I mainly jot ideas for plot/characters down. Sketches from which I will then write. Good suggestion--I'll experiment. I can't imagine I'd find or want an old Walkman!


  5. I don't have a smart phone, so I write notes here and there. Since I don't spend much time in a car this works for me. Well, it does when I can find those notes. :-) Happy sixth month, to your little girl.

  6. Sarah, I have to admire your dedication. I didn't even try to write seriously until my kids were grown.

    The technology I most appreciate is the basic word processing function. I can remember what it was like to try to type flawless pages (with carbon copies yet) Inevitably, I'd make a major mistake in the second to last line.

    To tell the truth, I think it was the advent of word processing as much as being busy that brought me back to the idea that I'd like to write. The mechanics of producing a submittable manuscript were beyond my capabilities.

    Someone in my critique group pointed out to me that my computer will read to me. I've always started a new session by reading over what I did last time. Now I'm having the computer read it to me as I go over the written version. I highlight places where it grates on my ear or doesn't make sense or repeats words (one of my big downfalls) I find it much better than reading my work aloud myself, which I had always done. I pick up more problems, since the computer reads what's there, not what I think should be there, my mind doesn't wander quite so readily, and I can highlight problems to go back & fix without stopping the flow of the reading.

    Now if I could just get the computer to stop reading "who die" every time one of my characters dons a hoodie...

  7. I often use the Notes function on my iPhone to record ideas. It's so handy and I don't have scraps of paper scattered everywhere. The only problem with using voice to text on a phone, tablet, or computer is that they don't always transcribe words correctly. Or, maybe I don't enunciate words clearly.

  8. I had no idea there were all these tech helpers, so thank you, Sarah! I have been thinking about giving Scrivener a try. For me, technology is a big distraction. Must tame the beast!

  9. This is so fascinating because we're all so different, but we all get the job done!

    On a sort of related note: My husband thinks it's funny to leave dumb book ideas on my phone. So, I'll be going through my notes and randomly find ones like, and I'm quoting, "I have a book idea for a talking cat with an unexplained Irish accent who lives in Missouri."