An MFRW Author Post – And check out the other blogs on the hop!
I was one of the first generations of kids to really learn computers. It was the late nineties and into the early two thousands, and my elementary school class would march down to the computer room every week to play typing and math games on bulbous clear blue Macs. We evolved right alongside the technology, from flip phones to the whole wide world of information sitting right in our pockets.
By contrast, the elementary and middle school students I’m about to go teach, get iPads from the school for the academic year. They can be beneficial to a writing teacher, who needs typed up projects by the end of the semester, but often times they are simply frustrating, as students play games, doodle in Paint and generally wreak havoc with my email address.
Finding the balance between technology and productivity is more challenging and more nuanced than ever before. All the information we could ever need is right at our fingertips, but we must be more discerning and diligent to ensure it is true and well-sourced. We have a thousand programs and applications meant to make our lives easier, but how often do those programs and applications end up simply taking the time we would otherwise use to complete those same projects or chores?
I have found, over the last nearly three decades, that technology is a double-edged sword. As a journalist, I can find and contact sources with far greater ease than ever in the past. As a novelist, I can seek out specific dates, check out maps, find immediate etymological answers, and look at the perfect pictures of my heroes or heroines for inspiration. But the challenge of making sure I only do those things is a wiley one. If I’m already on Pinterest–my particular sin of choice, I tend to stay there. If I’m looking for synonyms, I can find myself in a black hole of language history.
Don’t even get me started on social media.
But, of course, we need social media as well, a way to promote, market and stay in touch with readers, industry professionals, and other writers, in a world where constant contact is vital to staying relevant. One of the editors I have worked with since the very beginning is located in England, as is one of my publishers. Through email and Facebook messenger, we have managed to maintain a remarkably productive and familiar relationship. When she heard my voice on a podcast, she was startled at the American accent, and it occurred to us that we had literally never spoken in real life.
If I were to give advice on using applications, I wouldn’t say not to. Applications like TweetDeck or Facebook scheduler are some of the most beneficial tools a writer can use. Written Kitten, for all its technical flaws, has gotten me through several deadline-driven manuscripts and I used Write or Die before they started charging. (No shade, I understand the need to make a living.)
The point is, we need these programs. But we need to find the balance more. Shutting them out of our lives is not the answer. They can provide great information, improve productivity and increase communication. But they can also be distracting, frustrating, and detrimental to our success.
Every writer’s journey is going to be different, and in this day and age, every writer’s journey is going to include technology, whether we wish for it or not. The best way to approach it is to find the things that work for you, recognize your weaknesses and stay vigilant. You’ll be surprised by how much you can actually get done when you use technology for good. I always am.