Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Technology Making Writers Lazy?

Yes, yes it is.

Well, that's my opinion, at least.  Or possibly, technology is making lazy people write more.

My parents have this idea that because creating a professional looking manuscript is so easy now, people who would ordinarily be disuaded from sending their MSs to agents (or even bothering to complete them at all) are encouraged to keep going.   I think it's a valid theory.  I'm not saying that bad writers didn't exist before things like formatting and spell-checking were made easy, or that they didn't submit their work, but I can't imagine people who are too lazy to check simple facts, for example, setting the margins on their typewriters by hand or retyping an entire page because of one mistake.  I'm not certain, but I would guess that the publishers which require people to submit their manuscript in hardcopy by post get a lot less crap than those which accept email submissions.  I think with things the way they are today, there isn't as much of a system for weeding out those people whose hearts aren't really in it.

The self-publishing world is brimming with examples of these people.  They are people who want to be writers without actually having to do the work involved.  They vomit words onto their keyboards and see them appear on their screens, looking just the way they do in books and they think that this is what it takes to be a legitimate writer - and in no time, they can hold their books in their hands, flip through the pages, see it on a shelf.  All that's left is to sit back and wait for fame and fortune to come knocking.

I am not, for the record, bashing people who choose to self-publish.  Several great authors have gone this route, I myself have self-published one book and plan to have another out before the end of 2012 - and, of course, self-publishing has been around a lot longer than print-on-demand companies and the Internet.

Nor am I suggesting that technology is bad or that all writers should ditch their laptops, buy typewriters and do things the old-fashioned way.  Actually, the same technology that has the potential to create lazy writers makes things possible that otherwise wouldn't be.  Take, for example, Devereaux Court.  Imagine, living where we each do, trying to share the same information and opinions, to comment on articles, etc., using only paper and the postal system.  It would be an administrative nightmare, not to mention bad for the environment and kind of expensive - and yes, it may have something to do with laziness, maybe we wouldn't be willing to put in the time, but more likely, we simply wouldn't have the time to put in - especially not if we were all setting the margins of our typewriters by hand.  And then there are things like NaNoWriMo. 250,000 writers  from all over the world are expected to participate this year - Impossible, really, without the Internet, word processors, etc., etc.

So yes, I think technology is making some writers lazy.  I also think that those of us who can recognize how  lucky we are to have such massive resources available to us can use technology to achieve amazing things.

By the way, if all goes well, this article will be posted while I'm in Ireland and nowhere near a computer.

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