Writing in the Shallows

I was writing a story on an iPad near Christchurch last week. Writing tools such as computers have become flexible, but perhaps less intimate, and I wonder if it affects my writing.  When Ted Hughes began writing on a typewriter he noticed he became less concise. Writing by hand had made him invest more in each word:

every year of your life is right there, wired into the communication between your brain and your writing hand… things become automatically more compressed, and, perhaps, psychologically denser.

The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, brilliantly examines how our brains react to computer use ( read a great essay about the book here). He says that working on computers can be distracting (rather than reflective) for the brain — so it stays in the shallows, barely engaging with the myriad connections at deeper levels. In that case the iPad might be okay for writing because you can fade out all but the sentence you’re on. But my iPad trial was interrupted by the earthquake — which came from the shallows with terrifying force.

Photo: Allen Carbon

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2 Responses to “Writing in the Shallows”

  1. John B Says:

    Kia ora Raymond

    Hope it’s not true, seeing I’m doing a distance paper, and the main interaction is on Blackboard.

    Actually I’m sure he is right to some degree. Though our main readings are on paper, thank goodness.



  2. admin Says:

    Hi John

    Actually The Shallows is not all negative about computers. I’ve added a link to an lovely essay in the London Review of Books about it that summarizes the benefits of computers as well.

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