How Writers Write in the Digital Age
It’s no secret that to be a writer you have to be passionate about what you do and how you craft your work. The tools a writer uses to make their art are just as important as tools to a carpenter or other type of craftsmen. Except writers use pens, notebooks, typewriters and word processors instead of power tools to create their most famous works. Today, you’d probably imagine that everyone uses a computer – something connected to the cloud, so that they don’t lose any of their masterpieces. If you were to imagine your favorite author, what do you picture them using to construct your favorite characters and develop adventures for them to go on?
This article is going to go over a couple of today’s big-name writers and what tools they use to craft their work.
Arguably one of the most successful and recognizable names in contemporary literature, Stephen King doesn’t find sitting at a computer helpful for developing his tales of horror – so he uses a simple Waterman fountain pen. King himself has described his Waterman pen in the Author’s Note of his novel “Dreamcatcher” as “the world’s finest word processor.” Stephen King found that the tactile act of using a fountain pen forces him to slow down and think about each word.
George R.R. Martin
Author of the immensely popular “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, George R.R. Martin is no stranger to science fiction and fantasy – he’s been writing in television since the ‘60s. During his TV days, he would write using a typewriter or traditional pen and paper. However, George R.R. Martin books are epically long and elaborate, and surely require the content management of a modern word processor, right? Sort of. George R.R. Martin uses a word processor, but it is one of the first word processors eve created – Wordstar 4.0 that runs on DOS.
In an interview with Conan O’Brien, he had this to say about his “ancient” computer:
“I actually like it. It does everything I want a word processing program to do and it doesn’t do anything else. I don’t want any help, you know? I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lowercase letter and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital. If I wanted a capital I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key “
It’s okay George, write with whatever program you like, as long as you finish Winds of Winter – and soon!
Like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman is also a master of the weird and wild worlds of the dark places in your imagination. When he’s writing screenplays he values the “immediacy of the computer” in that he can quickly make edits to get through them faster. However, also like Stephen King, he prefers to use a fountain pen when he’s writing and outlining novels. Neil Gaiman likes to avoid external distractions when he’s trying to build and lay out the elaborate landscapes of his dreamlike worlds so he often hides in a cabin or hotel room. The manual act of penning down his imagination keeps his mind focused on the moment and scene he is currently writing.
Neil likes to use different color pens when he’s writing a book, so he can track his daily progress. When defining the success of a day’s worth of writing, he says:
“A good day is defined by anything more than 1,500 words of comfortable, easy writing that I figure I’m probably going to use most of in the end.”
Even though we live in the 21st Century, some of the best writers still use older technology to get their thoughts and imaginations out to the people.