Writers tend to think I am very technical. Every technical person I know thinks I'm an idiot. I'd like to say that the truth is between the two, but that suggests it's in the middle whereas I suspect I'm only a pixel away from the idiot side. But it's a significant pixel to me because whatever I am capable of ever understanding technically, I did also choose to walk away. I chose to leave computing and go into first media, then journalism, then drama. And I wouldn't change that.
But you don't forget any dabbling you do in technology, just as you never really forget anything if you were raised Catholic. And it is certainly true that I spend my days surrounded by this stuff and might even be said to wallow in it all.
Except it's not technology. It's not computing. At least, it isn't to me.
There is a very easy way to say that, for instance, this morning I have been heavily using iTunes Radio, Pages, Numbers, Excel, Word, Mail, OmniFocus, Editorial, Final Cut Pro X, iMessages and possibly more. Reeder. That's another one. Pocket, a bit.
But I had to think about that. If you had asked me what I'd done so far today I'd have told you I cooked breakfasts, drafted a radio proposal, emailed a lot of people about a lot of things, done my regular financial stuff, got up to date with everything I'm supposed to be working on. I put the bins out and emptied the dishwasher. I would never imagine, never conceive of telling you the make and model number of my dishwasher. It's my dishwasher and I cannot remember what type it is, I just know dirty plates in, clean plates out.
When I like technology, it is enabling me to do something more interesting than play with technology. Yet telling you any of this always sounds like a list of software and hardware – usually iPads more than dishwashers, but there you go – and I'm thinking that's a barrier.
Yes, if you use all these tools they will help you stay creative yet become more productive. Guaranteed.
What I can't guarantee is which tools will help you: for something as abstract and technical as software, applications are vividly too personal to make grand recommendations or rules. I know this, you know this, but in the talking about it all and what might help you most with what, I end up sounding like a geek rather than a writer. I'd be okay with that if I thought I were and if I knew it would be of use to you, but I geek out and imagine every real technical person I know stepping away from me.
Use this stuff. Start with whatever you've already got: you're a writer, you write on a computer, there is no question but that it can do more for you than you realise or you let it. And when you've poked around a bit with that, then start looking into other applications and tools to help you more. You will find them, at some point you will become addicted to them, and you will find that they are not just useful, they are transforming.
I'm not kidding.