Has the Internet Made it Harder to be a Writer?

I’m not talking about publishing. The internet led us to blogs and online journals, which are often easier to get published in than print journals.

No. I’m talking about the internet distracting writers. It’s hard to sit with your thoughts when gifs and posts by celebrities and dog photos are a click away.

I know that writers love to blame everything but their own lack of self-control for not getting any writing done. But hear me out.

Picture of an Alphasmart Neo2.
My Alphasmart Neo2.

I just discovered, and purchased, an Alphasmart Neo2. I originally discovered the Freewrite Traveler, but couldn’t justify the $500 price tag.

Both devices are basically keyboards with a small screen to see a few lines of output. The Alphasmarts were created for classrooms as a cheap alternative to computers. The Freewrite Traveler’s purpose is to take away the distraction of the internet.

The Alphasmarts have been discontinued, but you can get them used on Amazon and Ebay for $25-70, depending on the model and condition.

My Alphasmart just came today and I already had a productive writing session. I focused on just writing for a full hour. While I only wrote 3 pages, it’s more than I’ve written in months. Plus, I kept editing and removing sections until I figured out what I was trying to say. So, I probably actually produced more like 7-10 pages.

It’s not great for longer work, like a book, unless you host each chapter in a different file. The reason is the small screen size. You can only see about 4 lines of text. Granted, you can arrow up and down through it and use the “home” and “end” keys to jump to the top and bottom of the page.

I’m using it now and it’s kind of refreshing to not be able to see the whole page.

We’ll see how long this writing streak continues. It could be that I’m writing more because I’m having fun playing around on a new gadget.

But I think it has more to do with not being connected to the internet and social media. I know that there are extensions to block the internet, but you can disable them so easily, and I often do.

With the Alphasmart, it’s just me, a keyboard, and a tiny screen full of my words. When I get stuck on what I’m trying to say, I think of it for a minute and start typing again. If I were on a computer that would be the point where I start dicking around on the internet.

I suppose if I get a rough case of writer’s block that I could still distract myself on this thing. 80085 anyone?

Oh, and did I mention that when you transfer your work from the Alphasmart to the computer that it basically just looks like a ghost typing?

If I end up hating this thing, I can still use it to freak out kids on Halloween.

I’ll just type, “All work and no play makes Jack a dully boy” over and over again, transfer it to the computer, and watch the ghost type.

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4 thoughts on “Has the Internet Made it Harder to be a Writer?

  1. Wow. Never heard about this product but it sounds super-productive. Would give it a go if there happens to be a discount during Christmas Sale. 😀 Thanks for introducing it to your readers.

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