The Write tools; or the seemingly Never-ending hiatus

I got a new computer!  Acquired last week, actually; and it’s been quite the process relocating from my old Dell laptop to my new HP laptop.  I haven’t had a new computer in about five years, so it was definitely time to upgrade – tools are very important in any vocation, and though my Dell was still cranking along rather well – it had developed some annoying quirks (nothing surprising with a computer of five years old… I mean, it was obsolete the moment I opened the box back when I first got it).  I didn’t think it would crash on me immediately or anything like that; however, I wanted to get into something new before that ever became an issue… something faster, with a bit more processing power and a lot more storage capacity.

I have to hand it to Dell for putting out one hell of a computer: that little silver and white marvel held up well over the time I owned it (coincidentally, it has a good, new home – I bequeathed it to my wife after cleaning it up for her… boy, did that take some time), and I do miss the little guy.  Over the course of my ownership, I maxed out the RAM on the Dell (4 GB), almost overloaded the 40 GB hard drive with my music collection (I recall vividly how the Dell was performing like it was constipated), traveled it across Texas and to various locales around town, wrote my first novel on it, and generally lived in it’s virtual space.  I beat the hell out of that Dell, and it never gave up on me.  He goes now to a better owner who will treat him with a lot more kindness than I ever did.

The new HP is working well so far; my favorite feature (hands down) is the enormous keyboard with its fat, Chiclet-style keys and full number pad.  It’s Windows 7 which I’m not very familiar with… all of the computers I use and have used thus far (except for my father-in-law’s computer) are still on XP, and that’s the OS with which I’m most familiar.  I didn’t expect that Win 7 would be all that complicated, and it’s not… but it takes some getting used to.  I also got myself a 1 TB Seagate GoFlex portable hard drive, so I can back everything up… it doesn’t have a redundancy guarantee, but it will work for now.

The immediate question must be: why does a writer need a new computer; isn’t a pen and paper all that’s really required to write?  My answer: “Need” is a tricky term; no, as a fledgling writer I didn’t “need” a new computer… but like I said at the beginning of this entry: “tools are important in any vocation…”  A computer is NOT necessary to write; used to be I produced all of my writing long hand, and then I had to set about the tedious task of typing or word processing all of the work.  For me, creating my stories on a computer is a relatively new phenomenon… and I don’t exclusively create on the computer: I have stacks of notebooks and journals and pens… I’m a stationary aficionado, and I rarely pass up an opportunity to acquire a new journal/notebook and pen.  I even have a plethora of note taking/text editing applications on my Android phone… it’s kooky.  Writing is decidedly low tech by nature, I mean it seems almost deceptively simple: pen, paper, idea – done.  Well, it’s not quite that simple, especially not when you consider the innovations that had to be made in order for writing to even exist: language, a system of written language, tools with which to write, and material to write upon… and honestly, it’s much more complicated than that if you consider the philosophical and psychological implications of writing.

Yeah, most of that is jest… sorry, my tangent… My point is this: the correct tools for you as a writer are whatever you are most comfortable and familiar with; and for me that’s a good laptop computer and my hand-written notebooks – I’m not about to prescribe to anyone what tools they should use, or recommend one over the other: it doesn’t matter what you write on, just that you write.  I switched over to composing on the computer (it was a big switch for me) because I’m fundamentally lazy, and I wanted to save myself some steps; hence, I still make notes on paper, but I compose on the computer.

By the way, I’m now working in a creative writing management software title called, WriteWay.  I’m still pretty new to it, but it’s proven to be pretty good so far.  I’m still learning the ins and outs, but it gives you some really nice tools to manage your creative writing projects – plot notes, outlining, character cards, research folders, and  more.  If you’re interested it can be found here: http://www.writewaypro.com/.  You can download a free 30 day trial, and test drive it for yourself; the full pro version only costs $49, which is a fraction of what Scrivener (which is for Mac only, anyway) and Dramatica Pro cost.  If you are interested in a creative writing project management software title, you can see a nice side-by-side comparison here: http://creative-writing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/… it’s where I found WriteWay.  There is also an open source option available for free (although I would recommend making a donation to this fellow if you use his software), yWriter5 which can be found here: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html.  I don’t endorse any of these software titles, not even WriteWay (which I’m still learning to use); but I like sharing information so if one of these works out for you – great!

For the low-tech bunch, Markings by C. F. Gibson is putting out Moleskine-like notebooks for a fraction of the cost of the Moleskine brand.  The Markings notebooks are pretty much an exact copy of the Moleskine’s Volant and Cahier notebooks (slick, plastic or cardboard cover with a pocket over a “composition book-style” stitched notebook).  These are actually available at Wal-Mart.  I like Markings journals (they’re a pretty nice Moleskine knock-off) and I’m pretty sure their notebooks are decently made as well.

Alright; enough jibber-jabber, get to writing…

Oh yeah, the hiatus thing… We’re buying a house, and that took up the majority of our free time and thought for about a month and a half.  More on that news as things develop. 🙂

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