I must have been rather cranky last week. Being tired, I guess, can do that to you. In addition to being somewhat worn out from all the driving, I think maybe I was just a little under the weather, as well. Aside from dragging my butt around work and the house all week, I found myself also being somewhat disagreeable on the web, with other writing blogs.
On Wednesday last week, E.C. Myers, over on Pub Crawl, wrote excitedly about a device “built for only one purpose: writing.” Called the Freewrite by a company called Astrohaus, it is also branded as “Your distraction-free writing tool” and “the world’s first dedicated device for distraction-free writing composition.” I would argue that that honor actually belongs to the typewriter, unless you believe the rattle of keys, a dinging bell, and the ratchet and slam of the carriage as it returns to home is a distraction (I learned to type on a heavy Royal typewriter that made a lot of noise; I can’t quite remember what sound the IBM Selectric made, except it wasn’t quite as noisy). Typewriters and early word processors had no distractions: no games, no internet, no e-mail, no streaming videos of kittens and puppies. They weren’t especially portable, either–there’s a reason why Paul Sheldon in Stephen King’s Misery was able to build upper body strength by lifting his, those things were heavy–which I guess is one advantage of the Freewrite, as it only weighs about four pounds.
As Myers enthused over the Freewrite’s capabilities, I found myself imaging writers prone to distraction eagerly plunking down their $500 for the device, taking it to the library, the coffee shop, the city park, the far side of the room from the desktops and TVs, powering it up, and–bing, buzz, chirp, it’s the mobile phone, alerting them to e-mails, tweets, and status updates from Facebook friends they’ve never actually met in real life. And I started thinking about this:
Can the Freewrite help people? I guess so, sure. For me, however, I actually find things like music helpful when I write. I also find that there are times when I need to step out from my manuscript–maybe it’s to research something pressing, or to look up the spelling of a word that’s really, really bugging me, since Spellcheck is so unreliable. Those little breaks help keep me fresh. I realize I am not Every Writer; we all have differences in how we work, and the Freewrite maybe be perfect for some. Yet there’s part of me that can’t help but view it as yet another thing invented to help separate writers from their money–and $500 is a lot of money. Maybe you would be better off spending $15 instead on a good book on time management and maintaining focus instead.
What do you think? Is Freewrite something that would help you?