Writing Without Hands

You never want to see the Blue Screen of Death. It doesn’t matter what you use the computer for; the thought of that shade of blue is enough to cause twitching in a lot of people.

So when my laptop gave me that bluescreen… yeah. I wasn’t happy.

See, I save a lot of what I do on the cloud, so I can always “get it back.” I hadn’t done a full backup for a while, so there would be a pain for those files I didn’t put on the cloud, but I could probably recover them with a little effort.

The problem was… without my laptop, I couldn’t write.

Every writer has his or her habits. Maybe you need to have that certain song playing to get started. That certain blend of tea. Sitting in that favorite chair. Petting your favorite cat for forty-three strokes. All these things are pretty standard, I think.

For me… it’s this keyboard.

It is so not a fancy keyboard. I’ve seen the specs on some of those really good keyboards. (The descriptions end up reading like reviews for running shoes sometimes.) I could probably use one of those fairly well… once I got used to it.

My wife’s laptop has a keyboard where you need to press the letters just ever so slightly harder, but when you’re typing 100 words a minute, that actually matters. My church has a laptop I could always swipe short-term for at least my ministry-related writing, but the keys on that board are spaced ever so slightly farther apart.

And when you’re typing at pace, the slightest thing can really screw you up.

This has been a problem for me for a while. I go through laptops fairly regularly. I just beat them up with how much I use them and move them around and such. Every time I switch, it takes a few weeks to get used to the new keyboard. It really slows me down, and for the amount of writing I do… that matters. And when I’m concentrating on where I’m putting my fingers, I concentrate less on what those fingers are typing. My writing suffers.

And this is no matter of snobbery; it’s simply that this is the way I’m used to writing, and so while I have the capabilities of writing in other ways – with other keyboards or with paper and ink or with etch-a-sketch or whatever…. while I can write those other ways, I find it hampers the quality of my writing.

It’s almost like writing without hands. You can do it. I know it’s more than possible. But it takes a long time to get used to, I’d wager.

And in the meantime, the words on the screen or the page just don’t keep up with the words inside, and they get jumbled up in a heap as they try to exit my head.

And jumbled words are never a pleasure.

So when the laptop bluescreened… yeah. It wasn’t pleasant, not just for the necessity of maybe having to buy a new laptop or at least do some maintenance, but because it would affect my writing.

So I ran all the anti-viruses and did a backup. And now… I’m typing on my laptop again. For the moment, all is well.

For the moment.

I know I’ll have to change laptops eventually. Maybe sooner than eventually. But for now, I can continue typing as is my wont.

Whew.

As for you – what do you need to write? What “strange things” can throw you off your stride? Or have you achieved that blessed state of being able to write with whatever tools you have handy?

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