How Millennials use technology in their writing process,
by Matthew Weigelt
Writers from the Millennial Generation have arrived on the scene as published authors. This generation has lived around technology all their lives. They were the first to fall in love with Atari’s one-button joystick and Pac-Man and then Nintendo’s Mario Bros. video games.
They’ve brought their technology with them too.
I had a chance to interview Nathan Marchand, a published science fiction author and writing coach, about how he uses technology throughout his writing process. (By the way, we conducted the question-and-answer interview completely via technology—from Facebook to email.)
Matthew: How do you use technology, such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, at different points in the process of your researching and planning, writing a first draft, and editing subsequent drafts?
Marchand: I use my laptop and smartphone to do Internet research if I’m not reading said research from a book.
I sometimes write a rough draft using old-fashioned pen and paper, but mostly I use Microsoft Word. Although, for longer projects like a novel, I outline with pen and paper. For some projects, I use PhotoShop or Adobe Reader to create images and/or PDFs, respectively.
When I edit a draft, I save it as a separate file most of the time. Huge changes can happen over time, and I don’t want to lose what I originally wrote, even if it was terrible. That was an advantage pre-computer writers had. It was easier to keep old drafts. Hence, that’s why George Lucas can have his original draft of Star Wars adapted into a comic book.
Matthew: Do you prefer reading, editing and proofing on screen or paper? Any reasons for the way you choose?
Marchand: On screen. It’s easier to make changes, reference other parts of the work, and save it. I can’t imagine how pre-computer writers could write whole stories over and over until they got it right. That would drive me crazy!
Matthew: Do you store your documents in a Cloud? (NOTE: link to previous post on the Cloud)
Marchand: I have some saved on Google Drive, but they’re mostly group project materials. I don’t organize my stories online as much as I use it to allow collaborators to edit my work and leave feedback. That way I don’t have to e-mail the materials to them, and they can access it from any online device.
Matthew: What problems have you faced when you’ve used technology?
Marchand: Computers crash. It makes me angry (and you won’t like me when I’m angry!) 😛 That’s why I save back-ups of just about everything I write, usually on a flash drive or an external hard drive, both of which I can plug into a computer using via the USB.
Matthew: Where is a unique place that you write?
Marchand: I live in the country, so when it’s warm outside, I’ll take my laptop with me and write on the back porch under the shade of a pine tree. It’s pleasant. I also like hanging out at coffeehouses (though I don’t drink coffee, weirdly enough).
Matthew: What suggestions would you offer a writer who is still uncomfortable with technology, to incorporate technology into their writing process and organization?
Marchand: I would say to start slow and small. Like say, try out Microsoft Word. It’s relatively close to using a typewriter. There are lots of bells and whistles to figure out, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d be willing to help you figure that out. Libraries are good for things like that, so I recommend taking any computer classes they offer.
Then work your way up. As Richard Dreyfuss said in What About Bob?, “Baby steps.”
Tell us – WHAT TECHNOLOGY HELPS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
Nathan J. Marchand
Marchand’s first novel, Pandora’s Box, was published in 2010 by Absolute XPress. He’s also the co-creator of the ongoing fantasy web serial, Children of the Wells. He and several other contributing writers have pulled together an anthology of Children of the Wells short stories titled Destines Entwined.
He also has a “Vlog,” a video blog. Watch on-demand episodes on his YouTube Channel.
Visit his website nathanjsmarchand.com