Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Software Programs for Writers

Occasionally someone asks me what software programs to buy to make them better writers. The question often implies that the askers want instantaneous success without effort.

Some programs show you a few shortcuts and a few people insist their writing improved after using a particular type of software. That’s probably true.

Writing is hard work and no matter which software or computer you use, you still have to do the work. Programs can help you with format (which isn’t difficult to learn) or catch your misspelled words (MS Word does that). For several years we’ve had software that will type the words we speak, but they don’t improve the quality of the words.

A few people still write everything in longhand and later type (or have someone else do it) and I know one still-selling writer who does everything on the typewriter and her daughter copies it onto the computer. There are three ways of getting the words out of the brain and on to some permanent form.

Despite that, we humans still need to engage our brains and focus on words. If you want to invest money in programs, do so. I’m not opposed to software programs; I don’t choose to invest money in things I don’t need.

5 comments:

  1. Steve posted an invitation to follow his blog. Please disregard that unpofessional approach.

    Part of what I want to accomplish on this blog is to teach writing but I also want to teach professionalism.

    It feels like what would happn if a man comes uninvited to my party, never introduces himself to me, but circulates among my invited guests and asks them to come to his party.

    I would never do that to anyone else; I don't want anyone doing that to me.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; very informative.

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  3. Cec, thank you for addressing software programs. I have wondered about this and now I feel better about not having something special.

    You're a blessing,
    Nan Jones

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  4. Cec, it is tempting to keep buying "writers' helps" of all types in the hopes they'll help us write.

    For me, rewriting, along with continual reading of great authors, is the main thing.

    One of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry, writes long hand. Then his wife enters his text in the computer.

    I read, and reread, Berry's prose with my breath caught in amazement at his skill.

    He does rewrite in his process, but how a writer can do what he does without the help of a computer for innumerable rewrites is a wonder to me.

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