I tried to save myself some time with technology. I got this super fancy pen that recorded what I wrote into typed text. I was really excited about it. I imagined a future in which no time would pass between writing and publishing of things.
And it worked. More or less. But I found that I had to go a lot slower. I had to write more slowly, carefully – so that the software could understand me and convert my text more accurately.
And in slowing down and becoming more deliberate about what I was setting down, I had too much time to think. That is, in the little time it took to make me more careful, my inner critic suddenly had a window to observe what I was doing and to offer all kinds of unhelpful thoughts about it.
Normally I write without stopping much. I just GO and don’t quit until I’m done. But with the pen recording everything and making all things equal, I found myself stopping all the time. I got particularly hung up when I suddenly wanted to make an edit. If I hated the previous word, I couldn’t cross it out, it had already happened. I couldn’t draw an arrow to the previous thought and sneak it in the previous sentence. I had to think only ahead, straight ahead. The pen meant I was linear, no matter what. It was a stern (though quiet) admiral, watching my every word emerge – and insisting, too, that I keep marching ahead, even if it was check each word (will that be legible later? Is that REALLY the right word there? Did you really just write “write” instead of “right”? Well, that mistake is now part of your narrative.) Every single mis-step is noted as well as your good ones. If you had any good ones.
So – while the pen noted all that I did very well, in the end, it also inhibited my thought and the flow. So I’ve retired it for my writing writing and will find some other (less creative) use for it.