Thursday, June 11, 2009


When I first started using the computer to write, both video games and computers were in their infancy. Okay, maybe they were toddlers, but still nothing like today. We had Pong and we had Word Star or a basic word processor. Both pretty straightforward with none of the bells and whistles and graphics of today.

Maybe we tried a game of Pong before we typed away on our conventional IBM Selectric where the Return key was pressed and the line of text was stored on a cassette tape. One cassette held roughly 20 pages of text, and could be "played back" (i.e., the text retrieved) by printing the contents on continuous-form paper in the 1200 typewriter's "print" mode. The stored text could also be edited, using keys on a simple, six-key array. Basic editing functions included Insert, Delete, Skip (character, line), and so on. The labor and cost savings of this device were immediate, and remarkable: pages of text no longer had to be retyped to correct simple errors, and projects could be worked on, stored, and then retrieved for use later on. We thought we were in heaven.

But time goes on and everything improved and got more distracting.

Now we have Hidden Object Games, Magic Match, Luxor and Apple Computers and PC’s. We have every gadget and gimmick available and the lure to use them before we write is almost an addiction.

Come on now. I know you have your routine; I have one, too. One game of Magic Match (yeah, right, ONE game), find a few objects in the Temple, clear a level by shooting some brightly colored balls as they roll toward the opening of the pyramid, THEN you can get to the pages. Check email, Twitter, Facebook, update your blog and all of a sudden it’s midnight and time to go to sleep.

How do you resist? Not easy. I’ve turned my “routine” into a reward. Write four pages and then I can Duel the Guardian in Magic Match. Edit the last scene I wrote and then I can make a run for the Temple.

When I do that, I find that the writing had progressed and often puts me in a spot I find more interesting than shooting the colored balls in the Valley of the Kings. My “new” routine had helped me get the last four books to the editors on time (and find the chalice in the beach scene!).


  1. I have a girlfriend whose son is literally addicted to video games. I think I'd better stay with my reading addiction. (grin)
    I'd never have time to write!
    They really have changed though since they first came out.

  2. Fascinating!
    I steadfastly refused to get a computer, fearing I would lose every "golden word" of mine from ignorance. (It was more ignorance to think every word was golden than that I might lose them.)
    So I didn't know about the early days.
    Thanks, and get back to work, Kathye!