Friday, May 23, 2014

An A+ for Alphasmart

Hi, Everyone. I'm still in the middle of moving, renovating, revising . . . The middle space seems to be a very hazy place to be right now, finding me longing for the end, wondering how I ever got into this mess in the first place, and discovering my mind has gone utterly blank when it comes to writing blog posts. Which is why I'm going to go back to the alphabet for some inspiration.

When I first signed up for the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I didn't know what my theme would be. I thought I would concentrate on the business of writing, when I suddenly found myself drawn to my lovely keeper books, and all my pages and pages of brainstormed writing ideas went into my filing cabinet. That is, until today--

So . . . starting with the top of my list and another "A" topic, we have: I love my Alphasmart!

In case you've never heard of the NEO Alphasmart, it's a super-portable, super-basic word processor that's the closest thing I know to writing by hand without running out of ink or developing writer's cramp. 

I bought mine in 2008 after I attended a Land of Enchantment Romance Authors meeting and saw another member using hers to take notes. When I learned that you could simply download your typed text from the Alphasmart into any program such as Word, or simply into the body of an email for revision and professional formatting, I knew it was exactly what I needed for NaNoWriMo. 

Since then, I haven't looked back. Sadly, the company is no longer producing this basic model (although there are plenty of used Alphas out there) but the good news is they have come out with an upgrade, the NEO Dana, that seems to have all kinds of nifty features. That said, I'm still a big fan of the original, and Alpha and I (Teddy, too) have been on hundreds of exciting literary adventures together.

There's something about writing on my Alphasmart that keeps me focused like nothing else other than my fountain pen can. Maybe it's the size (small), the color (drab), or the fact that all I can really do on it is write that makes it so addictive. I can't use it to make phone calls, or to surf the Internet, or even snap a few pics. It's a baby dinosaur--and it's one of the most amazing things I've ever owned. 

My top reasons for being such a fan (and what will take me to the upgraded Dana if "Alphasmarty" should drop dead one awful day) are:
  1. It's so lightweight--2 lbs. 
  2. Has a full keyboard, and with a "tilt"to it just like a typewriter. Very comfortable for my wrists and fingers.
  3. I don't know about the Dana, but the beauty of the Alphasmart is it's designed for writing. Editing is kind of a secondary function. Of course, you CAN run a spell-check, cut and paste lines and paragraphs to new positions, find buzz words, etc., use an in-built thesaurus, and completely clean up your manuscript if that's what you really, really want to do. But why bother? That something for when you download your writing into your computer.
  4. And you can very easily download your work into your PC or laptop--approximately 50,000 words at a time! That's nearly a whole NaNoWriMo manuscript.
  5. The power is close to immortal. All it takes are three AA batteries which then last 700 hours. That is a very, very long time to write before you need to change to new ones. 
  6. It goes wherever you can take it. Want to write your novel in the middle of the rain forest or atop an ice floe? No problem. Just bring three AA batteries in case you're going to be there for a year or two.
Tip of the Day: Having a favorite tool for creativity can be an important part of the process and ritual of settling down to work. For me, my Alphasmart is the tool that does that best; just taking it out of its carrying case puts me in the mind-space of knowing it's "time to write."

What about you? If you own an Alphasmart, I'd love to hear how you use it. Or if you have some other cherished writing tool, drop me a line and let me know what it is. Thanks for visiting, and I wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend. See you next week.


Charlotte Fairchild said...

I wanted a word processor when I heard you had one, Valerie! I never got one. Now I can look into getting one! I spend too much time on this blasted computer traveling to different sites and playing!

Valerie Storey said...

Hi Charlotte! Yes--I highly recommend the Alphasmart as a way to stay focused on writing. I agree about the distractions of the computer--so easy to lose track of time and fall down the rabbit hole of websites and social media. Good luck and happy creating!