The modern writer’s toolbox

The modern writer sits at the intersection of the digital and the analogue. Both sets of tools have their equal power in enabling the writing process.

Throughout my (short) writing career, I’ve walked the fine line between digital and analogue tools to facilitate getting words out of my head and into the world.

I try to maintain the philosophy that no tool is superior to another; I try not to engage in the epic battles of technology – Windows vs. OS X, Android vs. iOS… Etc. You’ve got to discern for yourself what setup is right for you, what combination of tools will help get those words down on the page. At the end of the day, it’s the content that matters far more than what was used to create it. Technology – both digital and analogue – is just a conduit for ideas to transfer from the mind to the page (or screen).

My setup isn’t perfect, and it’s constantly evolving – such is the nature of technology – but it works. And I like it.

When I’m on the go, I capture thoughts on Evernote. It’s on my Mac and iPad too, so my ideas are with me no matter where I am. I store ideas for possible blog posts in there too, but if I have to write a post while away from my laptop (such as now with this post) then the WordPress app for iPhone is great. In landscape mode it offers a nice typing experience on a touch screen, and helps productivity by only showing a few lines at a time.

I’m still busy on that elusive manuscript, and Scrivener by Literature & Latte is unparalleled for complex, exceedingly long form work. Coupled with my MacBook’s chiclet keyboard, it’s the best creative environment for weathering the storm of words that is a novel. My drafts are always backed up automatically with Dropbox.

But like the great postmodernist architect Robert Venturi posited, complexity and contradiction adds wonderful colour to the palette of life. So when things get too loud, when the chatter generated by tech gets too much, it’s time to break out the Moleskine ruled notebook and my trusty Parker Sonnet. Writing longhand with a fountain pen is a deeply meditative experience. It slows down life, allows you to contemplate things wonderfully. There’s no live word count, hyperlinking, hastagging or entire Internet. It’s just you, the writer, your mind, and the infinite possibilities of the blank pages.

The digital is quickly overtaking the analogue; as a techno person myself I love embracing new ideas and software. But I find mixing digital and analogue tools adds great variety to my writing pursuit and keeps things fresh.

The modern writer is faced with a world that is changing at an unprecedented rate. Writing is becoming a critical way of chronicling this new dawn, and the right system of tools – from both the analogue and digital worlds – will be the weapons of choice to face this battle.


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