What tool best meets your writing needs?
I was asked recently if I thought writers are good conversationalists. My answer. was that, like most people, it depends on who you’re talking to. For example, I am an extreme introvert so I am incredibly awkward when meeting someone new. But once I get to know you, conversation is a lot easier. I also know that if you get any writer talking about something they’re passionate about, like their writing or research, it can be hard to shut us up.
In fact, we can be an opinionated bunch.
Writers who are big on outlining versus those who don’t? Whew! Those debates need a ref!
Software and hardware writing tools
We can also be rather passionate about our writing tools. Do you use Scrivener, Google Docs, Word, or some other software to write and collect your research? Most often, that question comes up when someone is looking for a better, more efficient tool. It is a discussion worth having but one I will save for another day.
Because today I want to talk about writing hardware: computers, laptops, tablets, pen and paper. Having one tool as your main writing tool is great. Being able to have the flexibility to switch when needed, helps make writing more portable. But having too many options can sometimes get in our way too.
Now, I’m not going to get into the Apple v. Android / Mac v. PC debate. I don’t have the time for it, nor do I particularly care which one you use. I use both and for the most part, software is compatible with both. So use whichever one you prefer.
Desktop computers as a writing tool
Let me start this discussion then, with computers. I’m talking about the desktop ones here. The not portable ones. Be it an iMac or PC. They’re great, lots of memory, powerful for things like gaming and watching movies.
What I like best about using my desktop for writing, is that. it is in one place, my office. I only go in my office to work and write, so it helps me get into the mood to write when I sit down and open up the file to my novel.
The problem, of course, is that it isn’t portable. I like to write at coffee shops, at lunch in the staff- lounge at work, and on writing retreats with my friends. I love my laptop for this.
My laptop is light, fits into a backpack or tote, its almost as powerful as my desktop, and with cloud storage, I can write one day on my laptop and pick up where I left off on my desktop the next day.
If you like a standing desk, there are portable options for those too, that you can take with you on retreat.
Though I often bring my bluetooth ergonomic keyboard with me when I use my laptop. I do find I experience neck strain from the lower and less-than-ergonomically comfortable monitor. Another check in the pro column of the desktop computer.
Are tablets the best writing tool?
Which brings me to the tablet. I’ve never used a tablet for writing. I did use the pre-cursor to the smartphone, it was called a pocket computer. It had a calendar function, and mine had an early version of Word on it. With the stylus that came with my pocket computer, I could tap out a few sentences on the bus to and from work.
I also had a foldable keyboard I could attach to it and make it into a tiny computer. Talk about portable! I took it everywhere. The keyboard baffled airport security all the time, and man did it drain the battery. But before there was a thing called cloud storage, I could hook that thing up to my computer and sync the files.
What I like about modern tablets, is the versatility they offer. Just like I did with my pocket computer, you can link it to a bluetooth keyboard and have an instant laptop. And, if you like to write long-hand, many of them now have programs that if you write long-hand on the tablet, it can convert your handwriting to typed txt. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.
Pen and paper
As great as. computers, laptops, and tablets are, and let’s face it, they are awesome, there are two drawbacks to using only them for writing. After a full day of sitting in front of a computer for work, and using a smart phone, my eyes need a break from that artificial light.. Mostly, though, I find I struggle less to be creative, to sink into the story I’m writing, if I’m writing long-hand.
Pen and paper.
I am truly serious when I say that office supplies are my love-language. Especially notebooks and pens. I’m partial to a certain size of notebook and pen. But I hate the transferring of my handwriting to the computer. It takes me weeks to copy-type it.
Now I know many a writer who say they edited as they re-type their written words. I can’t. On average, I’d have over 80, 000 words to type and I just want it over with.
This annoyance of having to re-type is what led me to looking into tablets but they didn’t feel like a feasable option for me. I tried the Livescribe pen and special notebooks. It recorded my handwriting but I could only upload one sentence at a time, into separate PDF files. Way more work than it was worth
My preferred writing tool
And then I came across the reMarkable. It is, well, remarkable. The perfect writing tool for me, and a lot of other writers.
The reMarkable is an e-ink tablet. What that means is that it is a tablet in that it has computing capabilities, documents are saved to the cloud, you can upload PDFs and epub ebooks. However, there is no blue electronic screen.
It feels, and looks, like I’m writing on paper. Like a tablet, I can have all my notebooks on here, so I can change over to my journal, a different story I’m writing, or like now, this blog post. If you’re an artist, it also has art tools as well. It is super portable, weighs less than most notebooks, and I can write while my dog is napping on my lap.
Unlike tablets and computers, there is no email on browser function, so I don’t get distracted while I’m writing, except by my dog.
All of that is great, but I wouldn’t love the reMarkable as much as I do, if I couldn’t convert my handwriting to typed text.
The reMarkable does just that. I can write dozens and dozens of pages and when I’m ready, a tap here and a tap there, it begins the transfer. I then email it to myself, copy and paste it into my software and away I go.
Is it perfect conversion? Not quite but it is close. I put it at a 95% accuracy, which is fine by me, because I don’t have to spend my time re-typing, I can dive into the editing. It is the best of both worlds. I can still write long-hand, upload it to my computer without re-typing, and continue on from there if I suddenly feel more creative using my computer.
I should also say, it works well when writing outside because there isn’t a glare. But I do need to be careful not to have it in direct sunlight for too long.
Which writing tool do you use?
So these are the writing tools for writers. Which are your favorites? I’d love to hear why.
If the reMarkable has piqued your interest, here’s a link to get $40 off: remarkable.com/referral/XYD3-DVM5. This is an affiliate link. If you do check it out, I highly recommend the Marker Plus, it has a built-in eraser which makes using the remarkable even easier.
Until next time…
From outside on my sunny patio… Happy Writing!