No, I don't believe that computers make us more creative. In fact, I tend to agree with Annie Proulx who, like me, writes all her first drafts by hand. She's made statements to the effect that typing your words the first time through makes you think less carefully because the process becomes "facile."
Yet I cannot deny that technology has a huge impact on the act of writing for publication. The frustrating thing, though, is that we must wade through an ocean of tech and decide what really matters. It's something I think about a lot, especially when I get frustrated by yet another program or machine I have to learn about. Today I offer a few ways in which embracing change and actively learning new skills has benefitted my writing career:
- Income opportunities. I have picked up two regular freelance jobs (one as a website fact-checker and one as a social media manager) from writing colleagues because of tech skills I've acquired. This, in turn, helps me remain a freelancer rather than going back to the traditional working world.
- Promo opportunities. If you can run a blog, keep a website updated, and post regularly to social media, you certainly have a leg up the steep slope of Mount Marketing. These days, I'm amazed when writers don't have an active, organized Web presence. Not that I don't still have a ton to learn!
- Ease of editing. For some, it's novel-writing software like Scrivener that makes the difference, but even getting to know the ins and outs of Microsoft Word can change the editing and revising stages for a writer. And now there's Word for iPad, and a dedicate cloud service called OneDrive that gives you editorial access to all your documents on all your devices. Yay!
- Ease of submitting. Duotrope. Submission Grinder. Submittable. Query Tracker. Google Drive spreadsheets. There are many ways now to keep really detailed, sophisticated records of what we've submitted, to whom, and when. And often, we can find out how long to expect responses to take (based on real user data, not just what the magazine editor says). I always have at least twenty pieces out looking for homes, so programs like these truly help me stay sane.
Your turn: How does the digital world color your writing life?