I am all for being a purist. When it comes to flipping the pages of an actual, physical book versus swiping a Kindle screen, there is no comparison. Unfortunately, a combination of OCD and too much clutter in my life has resulted in me getting a Kindle myself. I hate e-books. But until I am able to afford my dream home with a designated library, complete with secret bookshelf door entryway, of course, I resign to using this little device for the sake of space. That’s what technology is all about, really. Utility and convenience.
But there is one more thing technology offers that is kind of a biggie: the ability to connect with others. The internet brings the possibility of a worldwide audience for anyone. While not everything that finds its way onto the internet is a work of genius (I’m pretty sure 96% of the internet is devoted solely to cat videos), there is still a lot of value that comes with having endless amounts of information available at your fingertips. This is especially valuable for writers, which is why I can’t help but be baffled by the aversion to technology I have seen among my fellow English majors, as well as the professors.
Since switching majors from Business to English a year and a half ago, I have noticed that the utilization of technology in the English department is practically nonexistent. I’ve had classes where the students were given a choice of using Google Docs or some other form of online platform for sharing and editing work, but elected against it. Why? Because they didn’t know how to use it, and they didn’t care to learn. Many of them said they were incapable of learning it, and that technology was not their friend. This is, in my opinion, the biggest mistake a writer can make.
We live in a digital age. That’s just how it is. Digital content is where the jobs are, and experience with WordPress and HTML are becoming more and more valuable for a writer. Knowing how to manage web content gives you a leg up on the competition these days. I have seen countless job applications and internship ads that house a space for plugging in your own website, not to mention articles from ex-interns stating how their blogging experience set them apart from other candidates. Clearly, anyone closed off to the idea of learning these skills is doing themselves a great disservice.
Now, I’m not saying it’s something you have to do forever. I, more than anyone, wish to one day have an author life similar to that of Emma Thompson; spending my days handwriting my books on teeny, Peter Rabbit-sized parchment and sending it off in the post to be printed (to see Emma Thompson’s adorable interview with Jimmy Fallon on writing The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit, click here). Something about that just gets me. It’s whimsical. Magical. I suppose it appeals to my inner child. The part of me that wishes I could spend every day at Disneyland or in an enchanted forest writing stories. But, sadly, that is not reality. At least, not for the unknowns, like myself. In my reality, technology is my friend, and quite possibly the key to landing that coveted internship position. The same goes for every other writer out there.
So, to all those old-school purists out there, the time has come to put down those quills and pick up that laptop. Take an online course in WordPress or HTML. Do research online and learn for yourself (you can brag to all of your friends about being an autodidact like Leonardo da Vinci). Knowledge is power. Innovation is the way of the world, so embrace the new. Don’t allow yourself to get left behind.
Shunning Technology: The Worst Mistake a Writer Can Make
October 6, 2014