An important element in my production was my Xavier laptop, which I brought home with me at the start of summer. In the last few years, because of a motorcycle wreck and just the sheer impact of aging, I’ve found it harder and harder to sit for long hours in my home office chair in front of my desktop computer. My legs begin to burn and tingle and cramp. My back starts to twinge. But this summer, I stacked up a backrest on my bed, slid my laptop on the ‘lap desk” that Lana bought me, and worked much of the time outside my home office. Ninety percent of “Ember Star” was written that way, and I actually wrote faster than ever before.
On Monday I hauled my work computer back to work. I hate packing and unpacking it every day so I left it there. Even if I tried bringing it home every night, I would inevitably forget it at some crucial moment. So, yesterday I got myself a new laptop for home. I wrote this blog post on it, leaning against the backrest on my bed. I bought one with a 15+ inch screen, and also got a better designed mouse. The bigger screen allows me to blow the font size up to make writing easier on my aging eyes, and the new mouse eases my clicking burden.
What does this all have to do with writing? My point is that our writing worlds change as we get older. They have to. I can’t put in the marathon sessions in front of a desktop computer that I used to. I need bigger fonts for my eyes and anything that eases the burden on my wrists and hands and the rest of my body. I’ve found that being flexible in where I write and in the tools I use has allowed me to maintain, or even increase, my productivity while still protecting my physical wellbeing. Since writing is a huge part of my life, that’s incredibly important to me.
I’ve never been a particularly picky writer, in the sense of having to have everything just so in order to get words onto the page. But I used to have a narrower range of locations that I could write well in. I’ve found now that, by using a laptop, I can arrange just about anywhere to suit my writing needs. I’ve also found, though, that my tools have had to get more flexible too. All I used to need was a blank screen. Now I need my tools to ease the burden on my body so that it doesn’t protest while my mind is creating. Fortunately, we live in a wonderful world where writing tools are concerned. The right computer, right keyboard, right mouse, right software is out there. You just have to find them, and it may require a bit of experimentation before you do. But you need to have your tools work for you rather than against you.
How about you? How have you changed the way you write over the years? Have you gotten more flexible? Less flexible? What could you do tomorrow to make your writing easier? Maybe it’s time to do it.