There was a time, I’m told, when writing required that the author be firmly planted in front of a typewriter, slamming away at keys, hoping to not make a typo because there was no easy way to correct them.
Then came the computer and with it the word processor, allowing authors to easily correct their typos and rewrite sections of their work as they saw fit. But they still had to sit at their desk and stare at their screen.
Those days, however, are long gone. With the development of laptops, tablets, and Smartphones, the Modern Writer has an incredibly diverse set of highly mobile tools that allow him or her to range free. From the couch, to the porch, to the coffee shop, the Modern Writer is not tethered to a physical location anymore.
But with this massive freedom of movement comes some new problems that require solutions.
When you had to sit down in front of a typewriter in some secluded part of your home or office, you could easily close yourself off from the rest of the world.
Writing in the living room, I can tell you from experience, is a trial of patience and self control. Between a rambunctious 3 year old, a 15 year old needing help with homework, and a spouse who somehow has “Josh sat down to write, ask him to do something” radar, I struggle with keeping in task. And that’s not even starting in on the topic of distractions on the computer itself.
Writing at a coffee shop would, I can imagine, be marginally easier but there you have the hustle and bustle of a business to contend with and if you’re not a regular, perhaps the glare of a barista who thinks you’re drinking too little to be staying so long.
Mobility doesn’t just affect the actual writing process, though. It affects everything before that. My smartphone has become a research assistant and tool, helping me look up topics and gather information.
The biggest task that my smartphone has made easy is writing down ideas and developing the seeds of a story before I need to sit down and write the skeleton of the story. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve found this to be a valuable method to keep story ideas moving and get them out of my head (so new ones can land and take up space).
But much like the world of constant connectivity and the loss of “space” between author and audience, the ability to work on something at any time can bring a weight of its own to an author’s life. There have been times where just the ability to write down an idea or tweak a concept has distracted me from my task at hand.
So what do you think about the increased mobility of our modern world? Do you think that the ability to write anywhere, at any time, has improved your writing process or introduced unnecessary distractions into it?