‘The Write Tools’: a blog series featuring authors, artists and their favourite tools.
Today’s guest is Australian author Nicola Marsh. Nicola writes contemporary romance and young adult urban fantasy. She has published 31 books with Harlequin Mills and Boon, and is a USA Today bestseller. Her first mainstream novel Busted in Bollywood garnered a spot in the Top 5 Best South Asian Fiction 2011. Her first YA novel, Sorority of the Sun, featuring Celtic mythology and Druid themes, releases November 2013.
With back-to-back deadlines for several publishers I need to produce 4-6 books a year, totalling a minimum 400000 words. I need to write fast. Super fast. And I have a writing tool I couldn’t live without.
My Alphasmart 3000.
Alphasmart is a portable word-processor with a small 4-line-visible screen that runs on 3 AA batteries. It’s light enough and small enough to fit in a handbag.
I’ve owned mine for 8 years, use it almost daily, have written at least 25 books on it, and have only changed the batteries once in that time. It has been shoved into a backpack, into an overhead locker on a plane, taken countless trips in the car and has withstood kids clambering all over me while I write. Highly durable!
Another feature I appreciate is the instant on/off button. No waiting for warm-ups. Jump straight into writing.
The beauty of the small screen is the complete lack of editing. No reading back over a previous scene. No tweaking those pesky words until I get it right.
I know when I use Alphie I can just sit and write. Time enough for editing when I upload my pages to the PC later via USB cable.
I can’t compulsively check my growing word or page count.
I can’t quickly scan emails or check out what my buds are tweeting.
I just write.
It’s a powerful speed machine!
The only downside for me is the clunky keys. They make an annoying ‘clacking’ and are heavy to push down. But I’m used to it now and it’s a small quirk when I weigh up the benefits.
Eight years ago I bought Alphasmart for $500 at a writers’ conference. These days, you can pick them up for much less, online and from an Aussie supplier.
If you want the latest model which has more bells and whistles, the Neo2 is Alphie’s successor.
It has features including: wireless printing, wireless and seamless sharing with GoogleDocs, 700 hour battery life on 3AA batteries, 6-line screen display, durability (can withstand dropping!) and AlphaWord Plus (built-in word processor that includes cut/copy/paste, spellchecker, dictionary, thesaurus, find and replace). Impressive and probably the model I’d go for if anything happened to my Alphie.
But for a simple, basic writing tool almost guaranteed to increase your productivity and speed, I can’t go past my trusty Alphasmart 3000.