The Writer and Technology

My mom, Hindi Brooks, who was an amazing, prolific writer, was the first person I knew who had a personal computer. I’m talking early in the days of home computers. This thing was as big as an old TV (how appropriate that she was writing for television). It was such a dinosaur she had to insert the brain before she could start writing. (I’m serious.) She put the computer’s brain—an eight-inch floppy—into the A drive and locked it in, and then she put whatever she was working on—another eight-inch floppy—into the B drive. When everything was securely in place, she could go get a cup of coffee while the beast took forever to boot up.

Consider yourself lucky that you have such fast, efficient machines working for you. And they’re getting faster and more efficient every day. It probably won’t be long before you can simply have a thought and the machines take care of the rest. Oh, I have to email my agent. And poof! the email is sent—thanks to our trillion GHz natural language, wireless brain port.

Technology helps a busy writer take care of business more quickly and efficiently. Maybe it even helps you write more quickly and efficiently. But does it make you a better writer? According to my mom—who got to make the jump from typewriter to electric typewriter to computer to modern-day computer, and saw other writers do the same—the answer was this:  Computers make good writers better . . . and bad writers worse. Those who have a tendency to send their writing out before it’s cooked now can send it out completely raw. Those who tend to over-edit can now edit the poor text to death, changing things back and forth so many times the magic is simply edited out.

The moral here? If you want to create good writing, really good writing, you can’t skip over the stages of the process that writers have always had to do:

  • write
  • put aside
  • read fresh and rewrite (but don’t over-rewrite)
  • get feedback from a qualified individual (editor/coach/etc.) . . . and rewrite again (as many times as necessary . . . but don’t over-rewrite)
  • don’t forget to spellcheck

Also:

  • know your audience, know your market
  • do research as necessary to know your audience and market

In essence: Don’t be so dazzled by the shiny prize of being able to publish your work online in two seconds that you skip over the necessary stages of creating good work. If you take it slow, you may even get a surprise benefit:  you’ll enjoy the process.

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Write Your Life

I am deeply inspired by the stories brought forth in my Write Your Life class and feel honored to serve as witness.

When you sit down to write (and to share your writing) in the company of others, you are giving yourself a profound gift. Your stories no longer live locked inside you, but are witnessed and held by a group, by a community.

Write Your Life is a wonderfully supportive environment in which to share your stories. It is my hope that you give yourself the gift of joining us.

All levels of experience welcome! typewriter

To read more or to register, click here.

The Awe of the Writing Teacher

 

I just returned home from teaching a class (Writing from the Senses: Quieting the Inner Critic). A first night of a new series. And again I find myself in awe. A roomful of (mostly) new people—new to me, new to each other—and everyone dove in with such honesty and vulnerability . . . and so much wisdom.

Every time I teach I lay before my students an invitation. Come ride this wave with me! Dive in and see what you find! And each and every time I am honored, and astounded, to have my invitation accepted. Wow, they’re really gonna do this! They’re going to dive into the depths and return to the surface with such treasures.

I am so blessed to get to witness this process. And so grateful to those willing to engage in it.

Nomi’s Blog

 

Nomi Isak (aka Nomi Kleinmuntz) is an award-winning book editor and writing coach. She has been the editor on more than 35 published books, and her clients include the J. Paul Getty Museum, Time-Warner AudioBooks, University of California Press, and numerous individual authors. She was the developmental editor on Illuminating the Renaissance (J. Paul Getty), which won the international Eric Mitchell Prize in 2004. She is also a writer herself and has been published in regional magazines. Currently she is at work on a novel.