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Twenty lousy minutes on the Freewrite (review)

Less tool than fetish, and disappointing.

Funded on Kickstarter, the new Freewrite is a solid, lovingly-crafted device that promises to return writers to a place of distraction-free spontaneity. From its low-power e-ink screen to the aluminum case – with handle – to the deep-traveling satisfyingly-clicky Cherry keys, the Freewrite consciously recalls early computers, manual typewriters, and a more physical, engaged time. I love touching it. Really.

freewrite-blog-1

Alas, none of those keys moves the cursor.

“Distraction-free” writing is not a method like touch-typing, but an ideal. For some, it means paper. For others (like me), it means starting my work in a text editor, not a print-oriented word processor like Word or OpenOffice. For still others, it means gimmicky apps that literally delete your writing if you pause too long. Whatever works, right? And if it doesn’t work, you can do something else.

Not on the Freewrite. For the Freewrite, “distraction-free” means, and only means, a weirdly oppressive no-turning-back mentality, like Allen Ginsberg’s “first thought best thought” warped from liberating ideal into blind diktat without recourse.

You can only keep keying. You can’t go backwards, save to delete – and that has the acceleration of a Tesla, one word, two words, a paragraph whoa! You can’t go up three lines and add a header. You must go forward, only forward, like Orpheus leaving Hades.

I don’t even write that way on paper.

The Freewrite also requires a better computer to finish one’s work. Just getting text out of it – set up a special account, to either e-mail the work as an non-editable PDF, or to push it into Dropbox folders as Word .docx files – is a ridiculous kluge, a giant chicken-wire afterthought that makes the whole Freewrite process feel like something out of the movie BrazilContinue reading


NaNoWriMo update at the halfway mark (yay)

I keep meaning to blog! And it isn’t that I am SO BUSY – NaNoWriMo has become so all encompassing that all my draft blogs are navel-gazing treatises on processes which inform the start of my day but go by the wayside when it’s ten pm and I still have seven hundred words to go. Anyway.

In short, I am well ahead, 70% done (35,286 words out of 50,000) at the halfway mark.

I won’t be able to keep up this pace, but that was my point in pushing hard early – a strategy developed with and supported by my wife, who took point on family issues these last two weeks.

Still, to say a marathon is unsustainable as a lifestyle is to miss the point of the extremity. The point of the extremity is something personal to each extremist. Continue reading