Affinity Consulting Blog

After many years of procrastinating, I FINALLY started writing my novel. Lawyers are writers by nature, and it is a rare lawyer who doesn't at least consider writing a book.

But have your ever tried focused creative writing on a computer? There are distractions everywhere! Your email notifications, the allure of the web browser, updates to your Twitter feed, and do I even need to mention Facebook? How do you eliminate distractions when writing - short of resorting to a legal pad and pen? Go retro!

Having come of age in the pre-PC era, I learned to type on a Royal manual typewriter in the typing lab at my junior high school. By far the most important class I took as a child was called "General Business." It was taught by the school''s vocal music teacher, Mitch Madis. The first semester was devoted to typing skills. Mr. Madis painted all of the keys on every typewriter white so we would have to learn the keyboard by memory. What a great idea! The second semester focused on business principles. We had to research and write about a career (I was going to be a recording engineer). We also applied for our Social Security cards as part of that class. Back then, that wasn't done at birth like it is now.

Ever since taking General Business and learning how to touch type, typing has been easier for me than handwriting. If you've seen my handwriting, you will understand. So going back to pen and paper is not a viable option for me when it comes to writing a book. But neither is my desktop or laptop PC. Too many distractions, even with one of those cool minimalist word processing apps. Despite the uncluttered interface of those apps, I know my email or web browser is just a click away. Too tempting. And there is no way I am going to lug around a real typewriter. Besides, I HATE paper. I want everything to be digital.

The solution that let me get started on my book is the AlphaSmart Neo. It was designed for use in schools. But schools have transitioned to more advanced devices such as Chromebooks. As a result, there are a ton of surplus AlphaSmart Neo devices for sale on Ebay and Amazon. I paid around $30 for mine in near perfect condition and with fresh AA batteries (it takes 4). The keyboard seems full-sized to me and it easier to type on than anything but my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 or my old IBM Model M mechanical computer keyboard. It is instant on, instant off, and it automatically saves your work.

I like the fact that there is no paper. Use a standard USB cable to connect it to any PC (or Mac). Then open Word (or whatever word processing application you use) to receive the text you typed on the Neo. Then hit the Send key and watch (or not) as your text is typed into the document or application on your computer.

So you no longer have an excuse. Order a Neo on Ebay or Amazon and write that book that is inside your head dying to get out!

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