Since the beginning of our trip, we have discussed the ups and downs of our virtually connected life. Scot’s Internet connectivity is first priority, because his business funds our living untethered, and almost all of his business happens online. If WiFi connectivity is a challenge, Scot — or all of us — can use his hotspot as long as there is strong 4G (and sometimes 3G) reception, or he can find a local place in our residence du jour with great WiFi connection and, thus, can work in town. Although my online writing life and Luna’s creative online worlds are important, we don’t have to be connected, because our connectivity does not directly impact our travels, and we also have so many alternatives to being indoors and online while camping. Duh.
However, I am a writer, and I do write, and I currently write for Life Untethered. When the stars are aligned and I can carve out time to express myself, often my abilities to let it flow are impeded by lack of WiFi. If you remember, I use a Toshiba Chromebook 2, which works almost exclusively in the Cloud, so WiFi is necessary to do almost anything on it and it stores very little locally. Obviously, as a Chromebook user, I utilize the Chrome browser and Google services as well, but I have found Google’s offline writing option to be incredibly difficult to work with, and, inevitably, a huge distraction. Furthermore, we use WordPress for our work. WordPress has a “distraction free” writing option, but not an offline one. Also, every once in a while, WordPress likes to kick me off, most likely as a result of sketchy Wifi or questionable login practices. Thus, if I haven’t saved recently within WordPress, I might lose the latest addition of my brain dump — a huge pain. Finally, handwriting just isn’t for me anymore for a variety of reasons, mostly that hand cramps are for the birds, and I have grown incredibly fond of CTRL+A, CTRL+C, CTRL+V and CTRL+S. Being an old school writer using a modern writing device hasn’t proved an easy task. Are you with me?
So what is a writer to do when she has abandoned all things Office and cannot rely on a strong Internet connection? There are many alternatives to writing offline, including Google, but mostly they come in app form. The closest thing that I have found to writing in a don’t-think-just write, old school, pen-and-paper style is Writebox by Writebox Apps. Quoting from the creator of Writebox, I like this app because “Writebox is very simple and allows you to concentrate on your writing.” It’s kind of like saying that hiking is simple, because it allows you to be one with nature; or that meditation is simple, because you can be one with the Divine; or that tiny living is simple, because you can concentrate on more important things. This is not to say that writing isn’t easy. I just said that Writebox makes the task of writing offline simple.
For writing is ego work, like practicing running a marathon or hunting or cycling in Le Tour: It takes tons of personal, individual time and attention and generally does not — nor cannot — involve other people or responsibilities, such as raising children, shopping for groceries, or caregivin: Something gets sacrificed if one goes full time into it. So when Scot first discussed with me using an offline writing tool, I felt reluctant. Perhaps, a truer feeling was frustration, because I wanted to be able to write and publish freely now that Luna is older and less dependent, and our tiny living offered more time for me to do so. But maintaining a website dedicated to travel and experience and hyperlinking various sites is part of our online writing world. When connectivity is an issue, flow becomes one, too. In truth, I probably felt frustration about the manifestation of my writing because I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, and it plays an important creative role in my life, but, quite simply, I cannot write as freely as in my dreams, because writer is not my primary role — being mom and wife are.
Sometimes, when I am able to write or feel the urge, the WiFi is kaput, and so writing in WordPress through Chrome won’t do. Or perhaps I have a thought in mind that I would like to put down into words, but Luna needs something or me or time; or we need to tend to some basic living stuff, like eating; or I really need a yoga or meditation session, which helps me and everyone else around me; or we want to go for a hike, so writing will have to come at another time. Or say I am writing and keep opening tabs to add this link or that one to a piece, copying, pasting, waiting for rendering or saving, which is important for the piece as a whole, but terribly fracturing for thought process. Considering all of these scenarios — Internet connection, childraising, personal needs, self-editing — I have become very grateful for Writebox.
Writebox lets me write like I did when I simply picked up my pad and pen and wrote. Quiet literally, it forces me to just write, which is probably the hardest task for most writers. We stand around a lot thinking about our phrases. We think about them while we do other things, like talking to others, or going to sleep, sleeping and waking. We think about them in the woods, we think about them in aisle, we think about them in the shower, or while we are doing dishes. But when it comes down to writing, it takes a whole lot of time. In my case, it takes time away from others and other things that also need my attention. And so, it becomes a constant practice of how to balance one’s own needs with the needs of others, which is what most parents are doing, too.
Writebox has helped me, because I can pick up or put down what I am doing, continuing where I left off offline and proceed with writing to the best of my abilities and which time will allow. It has become my digital pen-and-paper — no frills, no hiccups, just writing, and it is free. Writebox is for writers. Check it out.