Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Technology and Writing - A Match Made in Heaven

It's been reported recently that a few teams have developed some still-in-development fiber optic cables capable of transferring 100 terabits per second - or, as the article says, "three seamless months worth of HD video." Obviously this won't be on the market yet, but the way it was put into perspective - in terms of how much entertainment you can download - makes an interesting point on the impact this, and other technological advances, have on our consumption and production of content.

The publishing industry is in an interesting place right now, with the shuttering of hundreds of Borders bookstores and the rise of eBooks, eReaders, and tablets, and the simple process of writing hasn't been left behind either.

1) Community - Writing has often been described as a solitary endeavor, but writing groups and the like add a sense of collaboration and insight to the process. Take Robin Sloan for example: his short story Last Beautiful was given virtually real-time feedback by a host of readers. This was made possible primarily with the help of Google Docs, where his reader/editors could update their thoughts and commentary on the fly. The internet and the tools provided by it - Google Docs, instant messaging, social networks, forums - have allowed authors to access a worldwide writing group.

2) Speed - As mentioned, Sloan was able to get feedback on a near-instant basis. It should also be noted that he submitted his request for assistance via Twitter. He notes on his site that the entire process took around two hours. Without the need to actively seek out people or plan a meeting time, and with the power to get engaging, speedy feedback, authors can push through work quicker than they might have otherwise.

3) Tools - Google Docs is a great way to have your work "in the cloud" and accessible from anywhere without the need to lug around a drive or the same computer. 750Words.com will monitor your word count and interesting tidbits such as word usage, topics, emotions, and more. There are a number of organizational tools to keep track of timelines, characters, etc. The resources at the fingertips of writers today to help them write what they want, when they want, and how they want is greater than it has been at any time in the past, if you know where to find them and how to best take advantage of them.

4) Publishing - It's the dream of many (not all) writers to see their work in print and share it with the world. It's easier than ever with print-on-demand sites that cut out publishers and agents (for better or worse). And more and more often, sharing your work doesn't mean getting it in print at all. eBooks are on the rise, with dedicated devices like the Kindle and Nook, and full-fledged tablets like the iPad, finding their way into more homes. There are even more innovative ways to sell your book, such as a tiered system on Kickstarter.

Technology is changing quickly - that's a given - and the impact that has on writing is evolving just as fast. However, with so many tools with so many features, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. The key is to remember to work with the tools and to not fight against them and allow you to get distracted from what you're doing - writing.

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