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On Writing: Is There An App For That?

18/10/2011
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“The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.” John Naisbitt

On Writing: Is There An App For That? ... The early printing press led to the Age of Enlightenment

Does technology help us write? Does it help with our creative process? When I sat down to respond to these questions, I logged onto my computer, opened my WordPress blog admin page, and without further ado, started creating this post. I didn’t have to create a brand new template for my post nor did I have to type it elsewhere.  Sure, I had to think about what to write and how to organize my thoughts …(the human touch). When I did a quick check on the impact of technology on the writing process, I was immediately reminded of the impact the early printing press had on the communication and spread of ideas and how it led to the Age of Enlightenment; a time of great intellectual and cultural exchange. Yes, the functionality technology offers is remarkable, but… it can’t write that novel percolating in our heads.

Undoubtedly, technology has made our writing life easy in many ways. If you were around in the days when secretaries needed carbon sheets and white-out fluid to type memos, you’d appreciate the ease that Microsoft Word and other software applications have given us; we can write, edit a document and send copies to multiple people around the world. Technology has made it easy for us to stay logged on, plugged in and app’d up in our fast thinking, fast moving world… It has given us the tools to do quick research on a subject by simply goggling a topic and then filling in the details in our manuscript or on our blog. But there are limitations to what it can do… It can’t quite think for us or write our blog posts or next great novel … Is there an app for that? At least, not for now.

“To be a well-flavored man is the gift of fortune, but to write or read comes by nature. ” William Shakespeare

On Writing: Is There An App For That? Logic and ideas remain ours to discover

Technology has not yet created an app that could think and write for us; it hasn’t given us a tool that replaces our ability to think; to deconstruct a sentence, edit our posts for logic, typos,  or even to create superb original content. Using tools like Zemanta, Publicize , Press This, Learn WP, Plinky, and WordPress’s many other features has made the writing process run smoothly, but we still have to think about and create our content. Logic and ideas remain ours to discover, and our creative efforts require that we do the heavy lifting…

We still have to think about what to write, edit our work, and organize our thoughts as we write…  The finished product needs to be vetted, eyeballed for errors and omissions and then shared. The strength of our content depends on our effort and skill, and technology can go only so far in shaping our final piece. Yes, Google offers us prompts (suggested ideas) when we do a keyword search, but that technology has not yet translated to the full scale written word.  Is there an app for that? Not yet, I don’t think so… More below 😉

“Originality is not seen in single words or even sentences. Originality is the sum total of a man’s thinking or his writing.”  Isaac Bashevis Singer

On Writing: Is There An App For That?... Perhaps when the average Joe can go to the moon on a whim...

The creative process is complex and individualized. We bring all of our life experiences, our abilities and our flaws to our work. Each person is supported or limited by the extent to which his/her mind creates original content. Our thoughts become our words; verbal and written. Technology can duplicate what we have already shared  and other users can do same.  We can use what we know about technology to manipulate, recreate and even replace what we have created but technology cannot do this on its own… It cannot create our thoughts or content in a vacuum. Our thoughts and creative efforts require the human touch.

Perhaps, one day, we will have tools to make us all brilliant and better writers… maybe when the average Joe and Jane can easily wake up and, like hopping on the daily bus, go to the moon.  Until that day arrives, doing the hard and lonely work of thinking, creating, and writing will be up to us. What about you? What are your thoughts? Does technology help you write? Does it help your creative process? If you could create an app or tool to help your writing, what would it be? Do share! Thank you. 😉

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Does technology help you write? Now that you’ve been writing for awhile, does technology help or not help you in the writing process? What do you wish a tool like WordPress could do to help?

Positive Motivation Tip: Find your creative voice and do the heavy lifting by writing… with or without technology or apps.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Early printing press, Newton’s Principia, Astronaut on the moon, via Wikipedia.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

55 Comments leave one →
  1. 18/10/2011 9:31 pm

    There is an app for pretty much everything else. It is only a matter of time before one is introduced that can make people better writers.

    • 19/10/2011 3:45 pm

      I bet it is a matter of time and we’d see apps to create and write … but I think the human touch will always be needed. TY! 🙂

  2. 18/10/2011 10:01 pm

    Yes, App for everything Eliz. Today I want to celebrate because I am finally getting your emails in the right box my gmail account. I never go into my yahoo…anymore. Either way I think that the younger generations can learn from our generations and visa versa. It’s a communication age because the younger generation grew up on computers, iPads, ITouch, Cell phones, and the modern gadgets of the 21st century. I pray that more is invented for writers too as “miriamgomberg” said above!!

    • 19/10/2011 3:48 pm

      I hear you and congrats on fixing your email issues. The range of apps out there are such that I see the future bringing more innovation in all fields including writing and publishing. TY! 😉

  3. 19/10/2011 1:27 am

    thanks for
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Handtiegelpresse_von_1811.jpg
    starting a kind of basic iconography for writers …

    • 19/10/2011 4:01 pm

      You are welcome… I hope you find some use for it. I enjoyed the articles and the picture was a great help. TY! 🙂

  4. 19/10/2011 1:28 am

    another fine photo: an antique typewriter …

    • 19/10/2011 4:24 pm

      What is this one for? Any opinion on the OWS group Frizztext? 😉

  5. 19/10/2011 1:35 am

    a friend of mine, watching my self portrait with typewriter on my wordpress frontpage – he asked, if I have an input door / mouth in my PC tower for all those paper outputs coming from my old fashioned typewriter. yes he comes near to the problem: to convert 40 years of paper writing into the digital orbit of www.
    actually I’m trying to combine my writings with photographies.
    modern times need photos as memory-landmarks for thoughts.
    who remembers words without any photo-bridge?
    google maybe …

    • 19/10/2011 4:25 pm

      That is true… so do you still use your typewriter or have you joined the millennium? 🙂 Pictures are a great addition.

  6. 19/10/2011 2:04 am

    thank you for inspiring me to post on writing.

    • 19/10/2011 4:35 pm

      Thank you dear and it was a fun post to write. I will check it our and link back. Merci! 🙂

  7. 19/10/2011 4:55 am

    We are back to the written word shaping the world, although now it is on screen instead of on paper. That’s amazing since we had to go through radio, telephone and TV to get here. What a great “app” the internet is!

    • 19/10/2011 4:42 pm

      Righto! The internet has made it possible for a lot more people to communicate their ideas and share information instantly. What I like is that we can make changes in real time and add new topics as we see fit. Yep! 🙂

  8. 19/10/2011 4:57 am

    Nope, there’s no app yet, but you can get yourself a little stuffed bunny to write some of your posts, that seems to work for some.

    • 19/10/2011 4:43 pm

      I see you and BB are doing great with that cover… I think you’ve covered the little bunny niche, and I like BB too much to want to bring in some small time bunny to run riot on his turf. 😆 TY!

  9. 19/10/2011 6:12 am

    I heard that writing is same to edit various things which other people wrote or told.
    The way to edit creates “identity”. 🙂

    • 19/10/2011 4:44 pm

      Sure, we add our identity to our piece when we create a written piece in our voice and words… TY! 🙂

  10. Bree permalink
    19/10/2011 6:24 am

    If that app ever appears, I’ll buy it and write several novels and maybe even start a blog.
    Writing is such a demanding endeavor that I commend you and the other bloggers who do it regularly. If we could get an app to do it, life will be awesome.
    You did dig into this one to show the good and limits of technology. Great post!
    B

    • 19/10/2011 4:46 pm

      I hear you… Whoever comes up with one will become an instant billionaire… Many will buy it to create all sorts of creative endeavors… I was happy to bring in the connection between the printing press and the age of enlightenment; an important part of writing/reading history. TY! 🙂

  11. 19/10/2011 6:35 am

    I did use the typewriter and carbon paper. My laptop is soooo much easier. To be able to write virtually anywhere is a Godsend. I would like an app that helps with grammar a little better than Word does.
    Interesting post!
    Thanks
    b

    • 19/10/2011 4:50 pm

      Absolutely a Godsend. I remember writing college papers on a typewriter and the nightmare of corrections. Then when I got my first computer back in the matrix dot days, it was a workout… I would like an app for all of it too. TY! 🙂

  12. 19/10/2011 8:05 am

    There’s no app for it but, I suppose without technology, apart from everthing else, there would be no Blogs, so I’m always grateful for small things that change your life

    • 19/10/2011 4:50 pm

      Yes, without technology, much will still be in the dark ages of communication… Blogging is a good thing for us all. TY! 🙂

  13. 19/10/2011 10:53 am

    I like that a typo no longer requires re-typing the page from scratch to make it error free. 😀

    • 19/10/2011 1:01 pm

      I’m with you on that! Mind you, I do remember years ago, when wordprocessing was rather new, I sent a letter back to the typing pool to have a correction made. When it came back to me, the correction had been made but now my name in the sign-off of the letter was wrong. I asked the typist how this could have happened. The typing pool supervisor didn’t let the typists save one page letters!

      We fixed that.

      • 19/10/2011 4:53 pm

        Poor typist, what a nut she/he must have been and what a load of work secretaries had back then. No wonder they called them pools… swimming upstream for survival and always being pulled back 😆 TY!

    • 19/10/2011 4:51 pm

      Yep, I remember that too and the hassle of all that nasty white-out stuff. Phew! 🙂

  14. 19/10/2011 10:57 am

    As long as there are no apps for unique thoughts and creativity we’ll be all right…
    …although I admit I’d love having a Pensieve 😀
    Dumbledore: “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”
    Harry: “You mean… that stuff’s your thoughts?”
    Dumbledore: “Certainly.”
    — Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter
    (source: harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Pensieve)

    • 19/10/2011 4:55 pm

      I’d love to have a Pensieve too and that would make my week so much easier… Hmmm. Great idea Maria! TY! 😉

  15. 19/10/2011 1:02 pm

    I would love to travel into space. I think it would be amazing!

    • 19/10/2011 4:56 pm

      Sure, but would you write your blog from space or simply hang out and vegetate? 😆

      • 20/10/2011 4:28 am

        I’d depend on technology to allow me to write from space! Mind you, I’m not sure Mr O would be too keen on taking the trip! Mr O jnr 2 though – he’d be with me! 😆

  16. 19/10/2011 2:54 pm

    Technology is great for helping to write, especially “spell Checker” I would be up a creek without it !!! Great post !!

    • 19/10/2011 4:57 pm

      Yeah and the fact that we can come back and make changes on our blogs… I’m always finding typos hidden somewhere and some of them make me cringe… Thank God I can go fix em! TY! 🙂

  17. 19/10/2011 6:21 pm

    Oh yeah! William Shakespeare! I’m glad you mentioned that quote because I happen to be reading a poem from him in my English Composition class. Yes, I believe that technology has helped me tremendously. I can’t seem to draw any ideas on paper like I do on the web. I stopped using Journal paper 3 years ago. I lost a liking into doing that since I got bored of seeing my own stuff. I never wanted to pick up that pen after all the pain I went through. I usually wrote only when I was upset at work over something that wasn’t my fault. I enjoy sharing things, and hopefully get responses from other people. Also, I seem to write more when I blog compared to writing on paper, only because I can type so much faster than writing with a pen. A couple of years back, I remember a classmate in my math class saying, “Thank God for technology!” Perhaps we should thank God for the resources we used to make the computer with. I’ll thank him for my life too, since I am still alive right now.

    I’m glad I was able to say all that, since I’ve been feeling very depressed tonight. It’ll pass.

    • 21/10/2011 4:48 pm

      Cheer up! I still write long hand as I grew up with that approach. I blog on my laptop and all the good ways that technology allows us to. TY for your comment. 🙂

  18. 19/10/2011 8:37 pm

    I enjoy being a part of a community of writers…I am encouraged and inspired daily. Without technology I would be a “lone read”. ;p))

    • 21/10/2011 4:49 pm

      That is true… We have all benefited form the community via WordPress, social media and other venues. TY! 🙂

  19. 19/10/2011 8:45 pm

    I love this topic! I still whip out my pen and notebook even if I’m facing my computer. It’s more personal when I write it down. Yup, technology has helped us in writing, primarily by providing us savvy tools-of-the-trade that help minimize the errors of the technical stuff (the revisions of errors, copy furnishing people, and having to write down everything all over again if needed to provide more copies). But I agree that the depth of the human touch in writing is what makes an article, a post, and whatever literary piece known to man makes it more appealing and touching.

    Great post Eliz!

    • 21/10/2011 4:51 pm

      TY and good to see you back… I still do a lot of writing by hand too. 😉 Yes, we have gained so much from the medium but we know its limitations… Like you, I am glad to have the option. 🙂

  20. 20/10/2011 7:21 am

    I love technology because it connects me with you and people all over the world! It makes our differences less and our connections greater and isn’t that the first step to understanding? And of course, understanding breeds peace. With writing, technology helps me to simplify hours of research and draft correcting so that I am able to post every day! Without it, I’m such a picky, red-pen slashing editor of my own work, I’d be lucky to get out one post a week! (and shhhh- I remember the days of carbon copies and white out too! Ugh!!)

    • 21/10/2011 4:52 pm

      Ha, ha! I can imagine how long it would all take (back in the day) to do what we do without much effort today. Yes, it has given us more options and now we can’t get any rest. TY! 😆

  21. 20/10/2011 5:44 pm

    Well . . . I certainly like not having to back peddle using a correction ribbon to fix mistakes!! And I like that I can edit students’ papers simply by adding text boxes to their essays!

    • 21/10/2011 4:53 pm

      Well said! I think back to when I was grading tons of papers and how easy it would have been to do it differently. TY! 🙂

  22. 20/10/2011 6:12 pm

    technology has gone a long way…definitely, in terms of writing, it makes it easier to edit, re-check, etc, but because of technology we have forgotten the beauty of penmanship in writing…remember the olden days how writers spend time and effort in writing–such nice penmanship. Mine, hmmm….i have the worst penmanship…at least at these modern times we are no longer required to practice perfect our penmanship… like in my thoughts: why do i need pen and paper when i can just type it down? LOL…anyway, I like these changes…technology can be so complicated but it makes lives easier…

    Okay, here’s a weird thought, probably i’ll hate a writing app if it interferes with my thoughts like telling me (voice prompt mode), “hey! you’re doing it the wrong way” or “you’re article is too bad”…lol…but that’s way too crazy if technology can be that advanced.

    • 21/10/2011 4:56 pm

      Yes, penmanship has gone downhill with all the apps and tools we have… that is a shame. I’m with you on not wanting an interfering app like those nasty GPS voices, constantly telling you what street is coming up… LOL! 😆 TY!

  23. 21/10/2011 1:32 pm

    I would hope there never is an App that does all the thinking and creating for us….I already feel like there is so many electronics and apps doing our jobs for us that if there went TOO much further, what would be the need of us????
    I worry about an age of robots doing everything and leaving nothing for humans to do….

    • 21/10/2011 4:57 pm

      Like you, I wonder and worry too… but I doubt they will have an app that completely thinks for us. It might need to be prompted and fed some information… But, hey, ‘you never know!’ TY! 😉

  24. 23/10/2011 8:48 am

    I really enjoyed reading this article, along with all the comments left by others. The line “Each person is supported or limited by the extent to which his/her mind creates original content” really stood out as something quite axiomatic – and is a line I shall be using myself in future reference to this subject (with all props and kudos pointed right back at yourself, naturally!). It seems as though we are presented with a new, bright & sparkling, all-singing, all-dancing piece of technology every day, that is set to expedite the whole process of documented creativity.

    Novel-writing software is a particular bug-bear of mine as it suggests that all the hours of toil, blood, sweat and tears can all be whittled down to a collection of algorithms that will turn anyone into a veritable Hemingway, just with the click of a mouse. Am I the only one who finds such a notion insulting?

    It was Edison who was first quoted as saying that ‘genius is 1 per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration’ and I think anyone choosing to embark upon a creative endeavour, really should bear this in mind. It’s all very well having that first flash of an idea, but it’s only the dogged determination, dedication and sheer force of mind that will bring that initial spark to life, in something even closely resembling a novel. Believing that you can simply side-step all of the hard-work by getting a piece of computer software to generate your ‘masterpiece’ is a sad indictment of the ‘quick-fix’ kind of mentality, prevalent in society today.

    The tools technology offers, are simply conduits for the creativity that may or may not reside in any one of us. If we are lucky enough to have been blessed with a unique perspective/understanding/interpretation of the world around us and an ability to communicate these notions to others, a word-count, spell-check and an ability to write in multiple fonts, will merely allow us to prettify the goods. They won’t do the job for us.

    I think that being in possession of any of the technological tools mentioned in the article above, could actually be more of a hindrance than a help. A basic word processor with the ability to cut, paste and edit is an invaluable tool in the writing process, but anything else is just a distraction. Something to allow yourself to become fixate with; something that prevents you from ever actually having to face up to your innate inability to turn a phrase.

    Those wanting to truly tap into their creative consciousness, should perhaps think about going back to basics and return to a good old notebook and pen. I never go anywhere without mine and it doesn’t ever fail to boot, never crashes mid sentence and rarely sees me waste endless hours fiddling with all the ‘really useful features’ included as standard.

    And the fact that they were once used by literary geniuses like Chatwin and Heminway themselves, WELL!! They MUST be THE notebook to use if I want to unleash MY creative genius also, right? 🙂

    • 23/10/2011 7:01 pm

      I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for taking the time to share your views on the subject. I don’t think we’d have to worry about our ability to think being taken over by a software program… But I bet that if/when the day comes, most will jump on it. Thanks again for stopping by. If you have a blog, please add it here and I’d return the visit. TY! 🙂

  25. 26/10/2011 2:07 pm

    I met a gentleman a few years ago at a book fair who was selling a novel-writing application. There was also another person who had something a bit similar. I was fascinated and asked to see them demonstrated. They were templates that provided the outline but both needed the writer’s words.

  26. 31/10/2011 2:12 pm

    I often think of the 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration quote. Thanks for another great post. Perhaps one day there may be an app for writing but would it be as much fun as now to sit down and actually produce something all our own?
    I wrote one on writing then and now some time back – here’s the link if you are interested. growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/ I must say though that yours is more thought provoking than was mine.

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