How to Freewrite without a Freewrite to discover if you need a Freewrite

The Freewrite has launched!

With that launch many people will have their finger hovering over the purchase key, trying to decide if this is good for their author lifestyle.

Here’s my checklist to help remove some of the guesswork:

The whole point of Freewrite is instant on, write anywhere, which to me implies that you’re going to be writing either at home, or outside. First if you’re planning on writing only at home, this thing will be in direct competition with your existing device. Not a problem if you have an old dog of a desktop which takes 15mins to startup. The Freewrite will kill it! However, if you have a nice new/speedy Mac Air etc, I think dust may gather on the Freewrite, because you’ll be missing the convenience and features of the Air.

If you plan on writing outside (in the real world), I’m guessing you’ll already be doing it with your laptop, right?

Good.

No?

Oh dear.

If you’re not comfortable typing in public, then spending $500 to test that out isn’t a bold move unless you have $500 to experiment (Go you! – I can’t, I’m skint).

Whether you’re comfortable writing in public or not, you have to remember that the Freewrite isn’t a laptop. It is, in fact, a flashing traffic cone. You will attract people. Oh, the joy of early adoption*.

*Early Adopters: people who have the latest tech and wave it around in public so they can show others they are early adopters.

Attracting people is not good if you want to be left alone and write. People will walk up to you and ask about that wonderful/weird device you’re tapping on. You will have to speak back to them (even if you have headphones on) and you will be rude if you don’t respond with a decent answer.

These are the rules of early adoption.

You’re like a showroom which is always open.

Are you comfortable with that? Good. Buy a Freewrite. If you aren’t, then exercise some impulse purchase restraint.

Next: the screen size.

The benefit of a small screen means you can’t reread to much (and waste time, procrastinating), however, this is good if you have to force yourself not to reread (eg: a superfast pantsing word-fest, or a tight deadline which means you need to crack 5k words before even thinking about revision), but a small screen is not good if you like the idea of not rereading or procrastinating so much.

The two are very different. Most casual writers (even serious writers under no real pressure) don’t need restrictions or someone with a whip over their shoulder cracking it occasionally. The idea of not rereading isn’t enough. You have to have a reason (ie: deadline) not to reread or the temptation and therefore, frustration that you can’t achieve it easily will drive you nuts!

Also, rereading serves valuable if you can’t write every day and you need to glance back over your words to remember where you are in the story. If you write every day, that’s not a problem. You’ll know exactly where you are and steam ahead without blinking.

So, the small screen size affects your effectiveness as a writer depending how your write. Notice how you write today (before buying a Freewrite) without a small screen: do you reread often? If so, stick with a bigger screen.

Next: Keyboard.

Look at that beast! Now if you harp back to the days of proper button-y keys which clunk down and up and you know for sure you pressed them, then the FreeWrite is bang on. However, if you’ve been used to a sleak laptop style keyboard which needs minimal pressing, then think again. Your fingers are going to be doing a lot more work on that chunky keyboard.

Next: Distractions.

If you’re easily distracted by the features of your computer/laptop, then damn the Freewrite is for you. You can’t do anything other than write on it. Ten points and a gold star awarded there!

I could go on, but I think I’ve written enough.

Have I used a FreeWrite? No.

I’m assuming all of this because I write in public on a laptop everyday and own an AlphaSmart Neo 2, and have stopped using it. Why? Because people kept interrupting me and asking about this weird device; I need to reread my words before writing; and whilst I’m not distracted by features on my laptop, I do use other features in my writing, like timers and word targets (with notifications): my Neo doesn’t do any of that.

I think a Freewrite is a great purchase if you know you need a Freewrite, or want to blow some sheets to explore it.

I don’t, but hopefully if you haven’t hit the purchase button yet, you’ve used my checklist here to get some clarity on your pre-purchase decision.

Good luck, and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. I certainly would love to hear from anyone who has used one or intends to.

Mark

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