I had great plans for my evening last Sunday. I was going to make a pot of coffee, turn on my favorite Spotify station, work on a new blog post, open my google drive, work on my novel for a while and then download a new book to read on my kindle. Then, we had a storm hit, which took out a tree and a power line right next to our house. We were out of power from about 4pm to 11pm and I realized I was completely useless as a writer without an internet connection and power supply.
Now, I'll be first person to say I think technology is incredibly value for writers. Just click around my blog posts for a while and you'll see how much value I put on apps, websites and social media in a writer's life. Plus, as someone with absolutely terrible handwriting, I'm the first to encourage people to use services like Google Drive and Novlr to plot and write out their novels. My words per minute typing far exceed my wpm writing by hand with the added benefit of being able to actually read what I've written the next day. But if we can't write at all without this tech, have we gone past convenience and into dependency?
I think the dependency goes beyond even how we write but what we require to make ourselves ready to write. As I said before, I need a hot cup of coffee, a specific music station and the right environment to get a good amount of my work done. While I know others who aren't quite as specific as I am, tell me if this sounds familiar: You plan to take a book/notebook to your local coffee house and get a few hours of good, focused work in. You grab your drink, get the best table and are all ready until a group of loud friends comes in, talking and laughing. That's okay, you'll just plug in your headphones and listen to your own music. Except, your headphones are sitting on your kitchen table back home. Your focus is now ruined and maybe your day is too. If this has never happened to you, I really admire your focus, because this has happened to me more times than I can count. All because I didn't have one small, $15 piece of technology to help me.
I think the most difficult part of the question that's been rolling around my head since this episode last week, is that there isn't really a right answer. As the world continues to evolve and change, technology becomes increasingly more essential. It would be ignorant as writers to ignore these advancements. Not to mention that there are so many benefits technology brings to our work, like automatic backups of document and a plethora of online research. There are numerous software programs and websites out there dedicated entirely to helping writers with their work. And most importantly, the majority of agents, magazines and publishing houses accept submissions exclusively through email. So technology can't be taken out of the work we do, no matter how dependent we become.
Maybe the solution here is not to ignore how important technology can be to us, then. Maybe we need to instead attempt to bring more technology-free writing practices back into our lives. Once a week, write in a notebook instead of on your computer no matter how long it may take. Pick up a hardcover book at your locally-owned bookstore instead of downloading a $.99 e-book through amazon. Leave your headphones at home on purpose and go out to read or write in a loud, crowded place to build your focus. These practices may not help me if I'm stuck in a black out again, but I hope it will help remind me more of my writing roots and build practices that also grow my craft.