Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Writing or just playing around with the tools, toolbox?

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Some days I have to be honest — instead of writing something, I have more fun just playing around in the collection of “writing tools” I have in my writer’s toolbox. I’m talking about the goodies and gadgets available out there to make writing easier and quicker for us as writers — but things that too often distract us from writing.

The first really “high-tech” sort of writing tool I ever owned was a small portable computer I bought from a friend. This was a machine made just BEFORE the earliest usable Windows software. It used WordPrefect 5.1 for DOS. (Anyone else remember that wonderful, fast piece of word processing software?) I did own a desktop computer prior to that little wonder, but it used the — you ready for this one?? — dual 5 1/4 inch floppy diskettes. Yeah, those were the biggies and they were extremely unreliable and fragile. When I got the portable computer from my buddy, I moved up in technology to the old reliable (?) 3 1/2 inch disks that were standard for computers for a couple of decades.

That little computer wasn’t nearly as good, or reliable, or filled with features and software as the humblest refurbished laptop would be today. But I really loved the little gem. (It was some early model made by Sharp Electronics, I think.) I suppose I made something like $3,500-$4,000 doing freelance writing assignments with that little machine. One day I booted it up — and nothing happened. It had died quietly overnight. Never did figure out why.

Nowadays I have an aging but still pretty high-end Toshiba laptop that I’ve pounded until the letters are starting to wear dim on several of the keys. It still has a nice, bright display on the LCD and probably will last me many more years. But I confess I love to play with writing tools like laptops, desktops, and even some texting with phones — and some days, playing with the tools is a wonderful distraction from the writing I know I need to get done.

Ah, well. If you never suffer such distractions from your writing, I admire your self-discipline. I don’t know whether I really BELIEVE you, but I admire your self-discipline anyway.

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