Why Isn’t My Tablet Promoting My Creativity?

I love technology. I was an “early adopter” growing up, getting an Amiga 2000 and a CD player way before anyone else on my street. I excelled in Computer Studies and Secretarial Studies, mastering both the BBC Archimedes and the Brother Electric Typewriter. I ran an online business for seven years and have been offering IT support to teachers for the past few months. So, it was only natural I would gravitate toward a tablet for my creative needs, and seeing fellow writers in the group tapping out words even as we went through our real live meetings cemented the idea in my head. I needed a tablet. It would inspire me, speed up my creative process, take scraps of paper out of my life, and make me kinder to the planet.

Here it is. My tablet. It’s beautiful. It feels good in my hands.

The prettiest thing I own - why doesn't it work for me?

The prettiest thing I own – why doesn’t it work for me?

It doesn’t make me an ounce more creative. In fact, I believe it sucks the creative juice right out of me, through my fingertips.

Why isn’t it working for me? Why did I spend NTD10,000 on this machine? How many NTD10 notebooks is that again? Why didn’t I insist on carrying my 5kg of cutsey-kitchy paper across the equator when we moved from Taiwan to New Zealand? Why do I think better standing up with a pen in my hand?

 

Cutting up bills and writing on their white sides sets off the creative juices.

Cutting up bills and writing on them gets the creative juices flowing. Expand to see my first draft of this article.

I have some theories.

Maybe it’s because I studied accounting and computer studies, so a computer is a tool that I have used to organize thoughts and processes, like, well, an accountant or programmer.

Maybe it’s because, as suggested in a study by Virginia Berninger, Ph.D. (cited in this article from The New York Times, June 2014), handwriting promotes creativity more than typing does.

“When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

Maybe it’s because I write in cursive, a form of writing that seems to encourage creativity and may have made me smarter.

Maybe it’s because I spend more time cursing the tablet’s keyboard and autocorrect function than I do typing coherent sentences.

Maybe it’s because my brain is using the tablet against me, creating a new tool for procrastination (see the comments in this post by JJ Green).

Whatever it is, I have discovered I create more when I am standing up, writing on the backs of unpaid bills I have cut into quarters. This renders my tablet pretty much useless as a creative tool. On the up-side, the tablet cover makes a funky, portable writing surface. The most expensive one I will every own, without a doubt, but at least it’s pretty.

How do you find technology affects your creative process? Do you have any tips to help me get technology working in my first-draft favor?

 

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10 thoughts on “Why Isn’t My Tablet Promoting My Creativity?

  1. My tablet allows me to play on line. Word games, twitter, writers carnival, Facebook, Watsap, not forgetting Pinterest or Skype. I could go on and on and… well you get my drift. My tab taught me procrastination. And believe me, as a writer I really do not need that. My note books and laptop they give me a place to lay my words, to edit and prepare. But my Galaxy Samsung devil has sucked me in, with it’s portability, and it’s chirruping sounds.
    Doomed I maybe. Your post has made me face the devil in my hand. Thank you.

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  2. I grabbed a Surface Pro 3 after my previous PC began letting me down. The combination of the stylus (which I’m using with handwriting recognition to write this comment) and OneNote 2013 is perfect for they way I work. I handwrite my thoughts & draft. I can, if I want to (imperfectly) convert that handwriting to text, or hook up another monitor & type my work from my handwritten draft. The unending “paper” in OneNote lets me make notes on notes on notes on either side of my manuscript.
    In other words, I’ve found it utterly freeing.
    Of course, all the sources of procrastination are there, too,but they always are while there’s a PC or Smartphone handy.

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    • DebE,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ll have to look up the stylus option. It’s a shame it’s all such an investment, and hard to know what will work until you sit down with it for at least a few days.

      I enjoyed your short stories, thank you for being so generous and sharing them on your blog!

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  3. I still do most of my first drafts by hand, then typing it up serves as my first edit. I tried out another app called WritePad on my wife’s iPad, it’s another handwriting-to-text conversion. The main problem I have is that the pens aren’t good enough – or if they are, they’re too expensive.

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  4. I’m interested in voice to text software. I wonder how different speaking stories is from writing them down? There are several successful authors that compose in this way. As far as I know, the free software to do this is still not very good.

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    • I’ve had a little experience using DragonNaturallySpeaking. If you are a clear speaker and don’t use too many um’s and ah’s, it could work for you. I’ve had to do quite a bit of guesswork on some material using that software when people mumble.

      I tried recording myself on walks, using my cellphone. I just found it a bit weird to listen to myself again when I got home. And the kids found the recordings and thought they were hilarious.

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