Why More Technology Doesn’t Always Help Writers

writing technology latptop tablet phone

Name something that technology hasn’t touched.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Even fishbowls can have automatic, computer-based feeders and cleaning systems these days. Writers, too, are flooded with all kinds of technologies that are supposed to help with workflow and productivity.

But sometimes, those technologies are honestly just a timesuck and you’re better off doing things manually offline.

Real-life instances of tools making writing worse

As an example, take Trello. I love Trello for tracking where I’m at in the submission process with my articles. I have one “inventory” column that holds pieces I haven’t submitted yet, along with columns for the publications involved. Then I move article cards around based on where they are. When a publication rejects a piece, the piece goes back into the main inventory column. For me, it’s faster than a spreadsheet, and it’s easy to color code or write notes as I go.

But then I have my social media accounts. I get lost if I don’t have some kind of system to check off what I’ve already scheduled. The issue is that no bulk scheduler I’ve found works with all types of accounts. So, I have digital content calendars. But I have to have three of them. Even then, sometimes the schedulers fail and I still post things manually.

I tried using tools like ClickUp to create a simple reoccurring task list for my podcast-related posts because those posts are the most confusing. But then somehow the application kept defaulting to incorrect dates, which I spent tons of time trying to correct. I couldn’t rearrange the tasks in reverse order, which I needed to do to have the workflow make sense chronologically. I couldn’t turn off the setting that kept emailing me about overdue tasks, either, so I had to spend time deleting those.

Know what ended up working? A whiteboard list.

You know, the kind where all I have to do is put a pretty little checkmark next to the task until everything’s done and “reset” is just a swipe of an eraser across the checkmarks.

Use technology when it works, ditch it when it doesn’t

Am I saying that technology can’t benefit you? Nope. I am saying that it can be difficult to find a tool that has the functionalities you want for customized writing needs. And sometimes, going old school is faster and more efficient. Yes, you might have to make space for a whiteboard or *gasp* a physical notebook. But that’s a small price to pay to be able to keep things straight and get more done.

The key is to be able to identify exactly what kind of process you need to reach a precise objective and to be willing to use both technological and traditional tools. Unless you’re collaborating with someone and have to use something online, it’s perfectly acceptable to say no to one more application or login. Think carefully about what you want to achieve. Be honest about your habits or ways of thinking to find the solutions that get results for you.

The original version of this post appeared on Medium on January 4, 2022.