Inspired by THIS post on the Random Musings of a Muttering Mind, today’s tip/writing discussion will be about using a desktop vs. a laptop. I’ve probably talked about this before, but I don’t know that I’ve ever gone into full depth on my reasoning behind enjoying one more than the other. I don’t know if this is a tip and trick, or if it’s just musing, but this is my different thought processes for writing with both tools, so hopefully it can help you to make the right decision for you when it comes to your writing space.
I’ve talked multiple times about how it’s important to have a space for your writing, a place that is totally and completely yours. However, some of us don’t have the luxury of having a writing place that is ours – likewise, some of us don’t have the ability to have our desktop in a place that is isolated (While still having the ability to be connected to the router for… uhm… gaming purposes >_> Shhh.) Ahem. I can’t attest to anyone else and their setup, so I’m just going to go through what my current writing setup is like.
—— WARNING: INCOMING LONG Blog ——
I have a few different writing instruments. First and foremost, I have my desktop: it’s set up in the common room of my household. My husband and I live with 2 other couples (because who can afford their own 2 story house with a big backyard in California?) and I have two dogs that are constantly needing my attention. The room that my desktop is in is the main socialization area for us, because all of our computers are set up in here, and we’re a very gaming household for the most part. It’s not odd for someone to be on a Skype Call at all points during the day. My desktop is at its own desk, I have an extremely comfortable chair – all of my writing programs are on here, and I have a huge 32 inch screen, and a secondary 20ish inch screen.
Secondly, I have my large laptop. It’s kind of a broken piece of crap, though Gauness fixed a lot of its issues. It can now be taken off of its plug without automatically shutting down, and due to me ripping it open, all of the keys but the w key consistently work. (The w key will stick – if you ever see blogs where I’m missing a bunch of W’s, that’s why.) This laptop is a constant fixture in my bedroom. I’ve recently made myself capable of hooking it up to HDMI, so that it can stream itself to a 42 inch television.
Third, I have a small little netbook type laptop. I got it when my laptop shat out for so long, and it’s been a real blessing. I never go anywhere without it, and I did a ton of my NaNo writing on it last year. It’s like… 11.5 inches total, and the keyboard is a chicklet that even my tiny hands sometimes get too excited for. It has a 12 hour battery life, so as long as I remember to charge it up occasionally, it’s usually always ready for me to write.
I also have an all-in-one desktop that used to be set up at my upstairs writing desk. Once upon a time, I had a writing space. I’ve written blogs about it – I had a desk, a printer, writing quotes surrounding me. It was fantastic and lovely, and I used it as frequently as I could. >_> that would be where the 42 inch television, my ps4/ps3 are connected now. Space management stole my writing desk away from me My All-In-One has no place to be hooked up, so it’s out of the equation. To detail for you, it was okay though. Kind of slow, kind of clunky. But I did an entire NaNo on it – it’s only purpose was writing (and Guild Wars 2 >_> Shhh), so it was pretty wonderful, and I plan on getting it set up again someday when we move and I have my own writing area.
So, that’s my writing situation. I have 3 viable contraptions to write on, and I have a different mindset for each and every one of them. So, let’s start actually getting into the meat of this particular blog now.
If I had a choice, I would always write on my desktop. I have a mechanical keyboard on there that makes writing extremely smooth and fluid, I have all of my writing programs, and a huge screen, so that the split screen function of Scrivener is still completely visible. Each half of my screen is larger than my laptop screen, so splitting it in half is completely easy to use. I can use my secondary screen for other research options – I also have desk space and a ton of it. I am capable of doing any type of research, note taking, and writing that I need at my desktop. My Kraken headset is hooked up here, and it gives me fantastic music… but, the simple fact of the matter is… unless I’m writing when everyone else is going (which is a rare thing) or I get up at 2 am to write (and my husband misses me upstairs)… I’m never alone. I don’t get any type of solitary writing time at my desktop. While that’s fine for things like this blog, and even sometimes for my novels and stories, it can be extremely distracting to try to write at my desktop when people are really into their gaming.
When I can write alone at my desktop, I feel wonderful. I feel like a very official writer, and it’s extremely efficient. All of the visual space for me makes my job much easier. But… I’m stuck in one room – if I need to get outside, I can’t take my desktop outside with me for some fresh air. I constantly have people over my shoulder, seeing my words, seeing my research, and generally making me feel like I’m being watched. Even when I move, my desktop is never going to be in a solitary writing room, because it’s my gaming machine – it will always be beside my husbands desktop. So… there’s never going to be privacy and isolation for my desktop writing. Though I find myself the most concentrated writing on my desktop (when I’m alone), that happens so rarely that it’s hard for me to say that it’s the best machine for writing. There is also the side note that my husband is a lot happier when I’m writing in the same room as him – because at least we get to spend time together, and I’ll occasionally turn around and say a few words to him xD
As to my larger laptop – when downstairs becomes too noisy for me, I can go upstairs and use the laptop. It’s fantastic, my room is cool, the lights are always off, the windows are covered with blankets – I have two fans going, my music coming out of my television… and… I’m not as comfortable as I was at my desk. If I want to use the 42 inch television, I have to sit upright, which completely defeats the purpose of a laptop to me. I’ll usually just use the screen anyway – it’s smaller, so split screen for Scrivener isn’t as easy. If I need to research, I have to minimize my work to do so… and, 9 times out of 10, I’m using my laptop in my bed. My bed is a place for sleep – my bed puts my brain in the mindset of try to sleep, Amanda, even if you do have terrible insomnia. My writing reflects that. I’m slower, I’m more inclined to put it away to take a small rest. A lot of people like laptops, because they allow them to lounge and do whatever they need to do… but, at least with a larger laptop, they tend to have a shorter battery life, and you have to have a backpack with you at all times to carry it around. It’s not super portable… and I know a ton of people who end up just keeping their laptop in their bedrooms most of the time, once they get a little older and their battery life starts to wane (my laptop is about 3-4 years old, so the battery has waned).
When I write on my laptop, I get a sense of calm and softness, and I’m very comfortable (because I’m laying in the dark, in my bed). I’ll still write, and a lot of times, I’ll still write a lot… but it’s a lot slower than if I were on my desktop. Even the keyboard hurts my wrist more. The writing posture of writing on a laptop while laying in bed is probably what did my wrist in so many years ago – so writing at my laptop will always make my wrists hurt/fingers go numb much quicker than writing at a desktop. But… I have solitude. Wonderful, beautiful, amazing solitude in the quite of my room, surrounded by my bookshelves. Yeah, I might end up doing a meet and greet with my pillow and covers… but at least I can get my writing done in the silence, even if it does take me longer.
And then, we go to my third little writing implement. I got my tiny laptop for last years NaNo, and I have to say that it’s been a lifesaver. It’s small, so it’s not the easiest thing in the world to write on. I’ve actually connected it to a keyboard via usb a few times because it was so small… but it’s portable. I can go from writing at my desk, to writing on my couch, to writing outside, to writing at a coffee shop, to writing upstairs, to going to my mother-in-laws… and my writing is never interrupted. The battery life almost guarantees that I won’t run out of juice… and I’m capable of conveniently being able to write wherever I want to. I used my small laptop a lot for NaNo, because I had friends over and we usually sat at my dining room table, surrounded by candy/pizza/soda getting out words in. I can’t really split screen my Scrivener on this laptop at all – the screen is too small. After a while of using it, my eyes feel strained, because the screen is so small. My fingers cramp… because the keyboard is so small… but it’s there, and it’s useful.
The small laptop isn’t for comfort – it’s for convenience, and it’s done its job so far. I’ve been able to pull it out and get bits of inspiration out, no matter where I am. It’s so small that I can carry it in my purse no matter where I go… and I’ve started carrying a purse no matter where I go simply because of the laptop.
So, I have three pieces of technology, and… as it turns out, they all have different functions.
My Desktop provides Productivity and Concentration… but only when I’m alone.
My Big Laptop provides Comfort and Solitude… but my writing will suffer for it.
My Little Laptop provides Convenience and Access… but it’s small and less comfortable.
The fact is, all three of the tools have their drawbacks. I feel like, no matter what, I’m probably always going to feel this way. Maybe, someday, when I have my own writing room, I’ll set up my All-In-One again, and hook my Big Laptop up beside it. That will give me dual screens, dual functionality, and the sense of a desktop. But, I’ll probably always go back to wanting to write in the darkness of my room sometimes – especially since I am a late night writer with my insomnia, and my husband hates for me to leave him in bed alone.
I think, what this blog is really getting to is the fact that there’s never going to be that perfect writing formula. We, as writers, do whatever we can to write. We scribble on napkins, we write in notebooks, we carry around laptops that are too small, and sit at desktops when they’re too loud. We do whatever we can to get our writing time in, and it’s not always the most convenient of ways. If it’s convenient, it’s rarely comfortable, if it’s comfortable, we’re never as productive. It’s the way of life. So, what I encourage you to do instead is use every writing tool that you have. Use everything that you can to write. I usually find myself going on a cycle with my writing implements listed above.
I’ll work on my desktop when things in my house are quiet – if my music turned to half volume can drown out the noise, then that’s what I’ll do. It’s comfortable because I have an ergonomic chair, and it’s productive because of the screens. I’ll get a lot of my work done at my desktop. But then, as the day wanes, people get louder than their games. I’ll save my work, and head straight upstairs – stretch out on my bed… and get my writing done there, if I haven’t finished it yet. And, if my husband decides we have to go out, I’ll quickly open my small laptop, synch my cloud, and get to work there.
My Cloud is my savior. It allows me to access my writing through all three machines, no matter what. Through Cloud and Google Docs, writing on multiple machines no longer means that you have to carry a flash drive everywhere (I do that anyway). So, when asked… desktop vs. laptop… I think the real answer is, “What’s the situation and circumstances?” I have a schedule, basically, to make all of my writing devices work for me – you figure out what works for you, and you hold tight to that. I still really urge you to have your own place for writing… because, when I had my desk for writing upstairs, I felt fantastic about it. But if life, clutter, a lack of space, or whatever, stops you from doing that… make new places. My desk, when I turn on a specific playlist… is my writing space. I get into that headspace, that zone, and it’s amazing.
My bed, when I turn the fans on and a certain playlist… is my writing space.
My little laptop? It’s xD A convenient writing space for when nothing else works. Don’t get caught up on having to be on a particular device to write, I guess is what I’m really trying to say. You’re a writer. Your words demand to be spoken. So write them, my dears! Write on desktop, on laptop, on netbook, on paper, on napkins, on your hands and the walls if you have to.
Just write ❤
Sorry for the extremely long rant. I apparently had a lot of thoughts with this particular subject! I will see you later for the continuation of my Alphabet Series! I would love to hear about your experience with laptop vs. computer, and your writing setup in general! Please, leave me links, or comments!
Until then, keep reading and writing (no matter what device you use!)
Author Amanda McCormick
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