The Modern Writer

This is going to be the first in a series of posts from me talking about the modern writer and how things are so much different from the way they were only a few years ago.

Every time I have an idea for a new world, or an idea on how to change an existing one, I reach for my smartphone, find the Google Keep app and open a new note. I tap out the idea, with little regard for spelling because my phone’s keyboard will correct me, and then select a specific color for that note (based on what kind of note it is) and press done.

When I finally have time to sit down at my computer, I pull up the Google Keep web page, review the notes for anything that I need to implement into my current WIP, or for new ideas if I’m fighting through writer’s block, and continue on with my planned activities.

I’ve been writing stories (I’ll not speak to their quality or lack there of) for well over 15 years. When I started, it was with a pen and standard-ruled 5 subject notebook. I continued in that fashion for well onto 7 years, collecting piles of notebooks (which are still in my basement, though far too painful to try and read).

It amazes me how far the simple act of putting ideas to paper has come in just two short decades. From the advent of smartphones that can auto-sync information through the cloud to other devices, to the computers that weigh less than 2 pounds and last for 8 hours at a time, modern technology has changed the way that writers write.

I still find myself enjoying the scratch of a pen on paper on occasion, but then there’s the tedious task of transcribing that into digital format.

Cloud-syncing is, in my most humble opinion, one of the greatest inventions of the internet era. Most of these systems are automatic and many of them are free.

Through the cloud, using such services as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and innumerable others, a writer can save his or her progress to a set of central servers. When he or she wants to write something, or review something, and isn’t a home, it’s just a matter of logging into a website and accessing the files remotely.

Gone are the days of the files lost to a corrupt hard drive. The files are saved to the cloud, safe from the errors of a tempermental laptop or the throws of a 2 year old’s temper tantrum or the spill of an adult beverage.

And the opportunity for collaboration is enormous. Want to write a joint novel with someone? Create a shared dropbox folder and away you go. No more emailing a chapter across the nation, waiting for the edits and changes and then writing the next chapter. Google Docs allows for real-time multiple author writing, allowing everyone to see the edits as they are in progress.

And there’s the flexibility provided by the mobile technology available today. Smartphones and tablets are not cheap, but when you consider the power that they give an author, the ability to write on the go without having to schlep a bag with pen and paper, you start to appreciate these tiny, pocket-sized computers.

Tablets have not only provided additional screen space for mobile writers, but have helped the Ebook/Self-Publishing Revolution to skyrocket to the forefront. Without tablets and e-readers, many would still be sending query letters, hoping to get picked up by an agent or editor.

In later posts, I’ll discuss other aspects of the modern era and its impact on writing, but how have the technologies discussed above helped (or even hurt) your ability to write and find readers?

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