One of the odd thoughts that comes into my head is that I always think a writing program is going to help me with my writing. But it never does. Mind you I do like computers for writing. They make things a whole lot easier than pen and paper for me. As a matter of fact I’ve done a lot more writing since buying a computer than ever before. More specifically since buying a laptop five years ago.

I bought my first computer back in 1996. It was a desktop but my computer setup is different than most people’s. Even since art school where I spent much time standing while painting at an easel I’ve preferred to work standing up. I find it less fatiguing than sitting down. As a consequence my easel, drawing table, and even my desktop computer are at standing height.

Standing while I work has served me well. Except when it comes to writing. That’s a whole different ball game and it turns out that I can’t stand and write. At least not at my desktop computer in any kind of regular fashion. I have certainly knocked out plenty of short e-mails and even some longer short stuff before I bought my laptop but never with any consistency.

That was always my goal with writing. To make it a habit. I wanted to get some thoughts and ideas out of my head and down on paper with some sort of regularity. Just for myself. I’ve never had any grand goals for my writing since I tilt at enough windmills with my art but I wanted to write some things down. It’s good exercise. It stretches my brain which otherwise might stagnate with the same old thoughts.

I tried other methods of writing. Small notebooks, big notebooks, index cards, loose leaf paper, unlined paper, and probably other things I can’t think of right now. I still like and use a small notebook but only for notes. I like the act of jotting something down in a small notebook but they’re not for working out ideas in a long form. No, it wasn’t until I got my laptop that my regularity of writing began.

When I first got my laptop I wrote mainly in the design and layout program called Quark. That was only because I was used to it from my job doing design and layout. It’s not really a word processing program but duplicates a lot of the stuff found in one. I think I would also use Simple Text the predecessor to Text Edit which is the simple word processing program found on all Macs. It, once again, isn’t a super powerful word processing program but it did the job. I’ve never used Microsoft Word much. It’s the one everyone uses but I always found it clunky, awkward, and distracting. So I stay away from it.

It was back in the late 1990’s that I bought a “Creative” writing program. I can’t even remember which one it was but I wanted to try one out to see if it would help me out in any way. I don’t remember it being very expensive but it must have cost $30-$50 bucks. It was in no way worth the money to me.

It turned out that it helped with the creative process by asking a series of questions about who was the protagonist, the antagonist, what was the plot, where was it going, etc., etc., and so on. Then it stored the answers to those questions on some screen. That’s it. I was already asking myself those questions whenever I started to write something. I was already writing the answers down. I found the program pointless and never did bother to try any other one.

It also didn’t help that I was years away from getting a laptop so I could sit down and write. That’s what really jump started my writing habit. It was February 2005 when I bought this laptop and it’s still going. I started this blog in December 2005 and it’s still going too.

Nowadays I’m always looking at various different “Journal” programs. They allow you to write, attach pictures, add links, keep notes, and do other stuff that I’ve lost track of. Being an artist who uses words in my art plus a cartoonist I would think that one of these journal programs would be right up my alley. I’ve demoed a few of them and I always come to the same conclusion. I have no use for them. They don’t help me in the least. Worse, I find that they confuse me. They’re overkill for me. Trying to organize my thoughts using a multimedia presentation is too much. I like to strip things down to the basics when I’m thinking not add clutter.

I’ve ended up writing all of my blogs and other things in a little freeware program called “Idea Knot”. It doesn’t even do much besides present my writing in a three tiered “Tree View” but somehow the simplicity of that view helps me organized my thoughts. Strangely when using the Finder on my Mac (or even in Windows equivalent) I hate the tree view. I find it too cluttered and confusing for navigating to files yet somehow it clarifies my writing ideas. Weird.

So that’s the intertwined relationship between my writing, my computer, and the programs I run on my computer. Without a laptop I’d still be writing but not as much nor as often. I’m glad I have one. Even if none of the fancy writing programs ever help me much.