iCreativeWriting

Posted: May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

One of my goals this summer is to spend one day without my iPhone. While smartphones are incredibly useful and have revolutionized how I (and many people) do things, they can also be soul-sucking, obnoxious burdens. I want one day when I can’t receive phone calls, texts, and e-mails.

However, there is an overwhelming positive to having my iPhone on me at all times that ties all the way back to childhood.

From the age of five, I wanted to be a writer. As a result, I was gifted lots of journals. Apparently some people believe that writers want nothing more than a quiet prairie, a shade tree to sit under, and a journal in which to write their deepest thoughts about puffy clouds and butterflies.

Amazon: You're not helping the stereotype about writers and readers.

Amazon: You’re not helping the stereotype about writers and readers.

The problem, however, is that I hate writing by hand. It takes too long. My handwriting is awful. I can’t save, copy, cut, paste, click, or drag a piece of paper. Mostly, I can just fold paper eight times, stick it in my pocket, and then pick the shreds out of the dryer a week later.

Almost all of my creative writing has been done on technology, going all the way back to DOS prompts and floppy disks. Now I use my laptop and my iPhone.

My predilection for technology presented some problems in the pre-smartphone era, which for me included my college years and most of graduate school. Way back then (all the way at the start of the 2000s!) technology wasn’t that portable, even laptops. This meant any writing I did on the fly was handwritten, presenting all the same problems, including that I would eventually want to transcribe it into a computer anyway.

This is one of the photos I took on the trail.

This is one of the photos I took on the trail.

These days, life is easier. This past weekend while on a hike, I came across a bridge on a forest trail. The image intrigued me and, in less than a minute, I took multiple photos with my iPhone, opened my Google Drive app, created a new document in my “Poetry” folder, and wrote a stanza. Rather than shoving a piece of paper in my back pocket to be forgotten, that file is now saved, sorted, and accessible from any device with internet access.

Turtle Hall of Famer Tricia Lunt sent me this photo recently after a discussion we had about remembering to actually experience the world around us.

Turtle Hall of Famer Tricia Lunt sent me this photo recently after a discussion we had about remembering to actually experience the world around us.

Of course, as useful as technology is for writing, it has its drawbacks. One of the largest goes right back to a reason I want to ditch my iPhone for a day: sometimes we are so busy communicating and documenting our lives via text, e-mail, websites, and social media that we fail to – ya know – experience the world around us. And in my quest to scribble notes and take pictures with my iPhone, I may sometimes be robbing myself of the best writing material of all.

Ultimately, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives in terms of how the smartphone has revolutionized my approach to creative writing. It has significantly increased my organization and productivity. So, now I save handwritten creative writing for meetings at work. My colleagues think I’m taking notes, but I’m actually writing about puffy clouds and butterflies.

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