From time to time, I find myself grumbling when my laptop struggles to open or save my massive text documents. 180,000 words is pretty hefty for a ten-year-old computer, though, and even though my laptop kicks up a fuss when working with them, I really, really love this old Mac. But a friend recently asked why I do most of my writing on a machine that struggles with the work I do, and it got me thinking. Considering I have a fairly new desktop computer, it brings up a valid question: Do writers need laptops?
The short answer is no, they don’t. But it helps. A lot.
While I do occasionally use my desktop for writing purposes, and I always use it for formatting work, I do the majority of writing and editing on the laptop. The biggest reason for it is that when I’m working, I need to be left alone, and having the house to myself is something that happens once in a blue moon. With a laptop, it’s easy to escape into the bedroom or the back yard, giving me the quiet time I need to get things done. It also allows me to take my work with me when I travel, and since we make a six hour trip to see family several times a year, I get a lot of work done during car trips.
Of course, these things aren’t impossible without a laptop. Writers survived for decades using notebooks and pencils, and I’ve been known to make use of them, as well. But it is slower going, and something I can’t do in a car, since looking at text on paper in a moving vehicle makes me motion sick, whereas looking at a screen doesn’t.
But while having access to a laptop certainly makes my job easier, I’ve seen several writers claim they are incapable of writing without one. It’s true that every job is easier with the right tools, but sometimes you have to make do. Let’s be honest here, that’s a weak excuse. What it really means is I don’t want to write right now.
Writers are probably better at procrastination than actually writing, but saying not having a laptop keeps you from your work is like saying you can’t write because your pen is in the other room. If you want to be a writer, write something. I wrote entire chapters on scrap paper during 15-minute breaks and down time at my previous jobs, so I know it’s not impossible!
Yes, a nice computer makes it more convenient. But Harry Potter was written on paper, and your story can be, too.