Computers: Help & Hindrance
has revolutionized writing. It’s made it much
easier to generate ideas, to reorganize writing, even
to check spelling and grammar. However, computers
can be both a source of help and a hindrance.
Computers can help you write in many different ways.
Here are some suggestions:
- When you begin, create three files: your
working document, a references file, and an out-takes
file. You might
also want a fourth—notes—which you use
as a handy notepad (it’s also a place where
you can cut and paste stuff you pick up from other
There are three major pitfalls to writing on a computer:
- A major trap is revising and editing
Rather than just letting ideas come
when you’re inventing,
you can find yourself caught up by how the words
on the screen look, see something you want to change,
and lose your flow of thought.
Resist at all costs the temptation
to “fix” your
writing when you’re generating a draft
- A second danger is forgetting to SAVE!
sure to set your Autosave to backup your writing
every 5 minutes or so (in MS Word
you find that function
in the Preferences / Properties under “Save”).
That way you can recover most of what you’ve
written. It’s worse than discouraging to
have your word processing software freeze and
lose everything you’ve
done for the last hour.
Also be careful to save the file to the
location you intend. Some word processors
the last place
you saved to—that may not be where
you wanted to save your current document.
- Be wary of the spell checker.
recognize the word you intend and prompt you
with words that have no relationship to the
one you want, or it accepts
what you’ve written because it doesn’t
differentiate homophones—words that sound
the same but are spelled differently such as “mayor” and “mare” or “their”, “there”,
On the other hand the Thesaurus is often
useful, although often it won’t
give you as many alternatives as a good