I play a game when I travel. I count how many people I can see that are just staring at their phone, watching it swallow their sweet, precious time. We all use cellphones, constantly, regularly; some would claim its an obsession.
As writers, we often find ourselves at the short end of the stick. Our dreams are more of a hobby for most, and very often we get caught up in things that require more of our attention. And yet, I’ve come to learn you don’t need to have a notebook on you at all times to be a writer. You don’t need to be a slave to the world around you. You have so much power in your hands and you don’t even realize it. We live in an age where technology builds bridges faster than ever.
Use the technology to your advantage. One diamond I discovered on my phone is the reminder app. At 9:00 p.m. daily my phones pings and a reminder pops up on my screen that reads: Just Write For Yourself! Even if it’s one word.
So I follow its demands, dropping whatever I’m doing, I open the notes on my phone and I write. I grab the notebook & pen duo and I practice. I try out a new word discovered that day. I add another line to a short story. Or better yet, I write more than a word. I write a line, a paragraph. I write six pages if I’m feeling ambitious.
Often people claim that they forget to write or that they don’t have time for it. However, if we took all the time we blandly stare into those glowing screens and wrote we’d have a new, shiny story every week. After all, it was Ray Bradbury who advised, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
Another usage is to employ email or any sort of social media. Use texts, Facebook messenger. Constantly email new writing to friends, or better yet- writer friends, to gain advice or insight. Often people are wary of having too many cooks in the kitchen, but it’s better to have too many cooks than not enough. You can always send people away, or not heed their advice.
Finally, if I see something interesting on my way to work, or if something on the street catches my eye as I drive by on the train, I’ll whip out my camera and take quick a picture of it. At night, I’ll fish through my photos and have a set list of my own writing prompts. The classic prompt, take this photo and show what’s happening, has led to numerous articles and stories. See? Now you don’t need to wait around for inspiration. It’s all around you. You just need to be able to store it for later.
These are three basic tools to start with. From there you can expand and encompass more aspects of the cellphone. Scrolling through Facebook is one thing, but it won’t get you any closer to your name on the spine of a book.