I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, which I know is shocking, based on the many photos of me looking dashing that populate the Internet. I was that chubby kid with glasses who read a lot of fantasy novels that were way above his pay grade—I can still remember reading the rape scene in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant when I was ten years old and wondering who in hell had allowed me to buy that book. I got my first computer (a Commodore 64) when I was twelve, and spent countless hours typing in BASIC programs from Byte Magazine.
I’ve loved computers ever since. I’ve dabbled in programming, I’ve installed multiple operating systems, I’ve blanked my MBR and I’ve had to reinstall my OS from scratch while sweating bullets and praying to unseen gods. And while I resisted the initial smartphone wave, I do love my gadgets and my Apps. I love eBooks and have an extensive library of them so I’ll always have something to read, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
I’m no Luddite. Yet, when people ask about what kind of software or gadgets you need to write a novel, the answer is obvious and immediate: None.
I’m not a very organized person. The idea that writing a novel requires a spreadsheet, a notes App, a database, and specialized software makes me feel like I’ve inexplicably decided to become an accountant, and without attending one day of school I’ve already scheduled the licensing exam.
If I had my druthers, in fact, I’d still be writing novels on my old manual typewriter, which sounded like awesome thunder when you banged away on it, the ink in the ribbon slowly fading until the letters being printed on the page were theoretical at best. Believe me, if I could convince publishers to let me submit my novels typewritten like that, I would. I stick as close as I can to that construct, though: A simple word processor, a white screen, a keyboard. Sometimes I still make the automatic “carriage return” motion when I’m typing. I often smack people in the face because of this, and fights break out.
Now, if you like lots of software to help you write, I don’t care. And you shouldn’t care if I care. You write however you want, and I’ll continue to use a pen and paper and—grudgingly—a word processor, and nothing else. At least until I’m powerful enough to force my will on the publishing industry. Until then … I abide.