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Updated on March 11, 2018
Crystal Bennett profile image

Crystal is a Christian, Wife, Mother, Novelist, and former Behavior Specialist with an education in History and Religious Studies.

My Personal Freewrite


Writer Problems

A society spoiled by technology

I wrote in a previous article, about my tech stuff, and why I use it, the link to which is at the bottom of this article. Today I feel compelled to write about a certain tech object and an aspect which vexes me greatly. Not because of the tech itself, but the people who buy and use them. For me, any purchase of tech gear is a big deal, because I can’t just shell out hundreds, much less thousands of dollars on computers and the software that goes with them. I must choose carefully before making the investment in a new computer, cell phone, or whatever the item in question is. I research, watch videos, tutorials, and read reviews. When I buy a thing, I know exactly what I’m getting before I click the “Buy” button or shell out the cash at the store. There are few instances in which I am surprised by what an item can or cannot do because I have researched it so thoroughly.

That said… I’d like to speak a little about the Freewrite from Astrohaus. If you’re not familiar with it, the Freewrite is a draft-only “smart typewriter” that does not allow edits beyond backspacing, and re-writing whatever you deleted by using the backspace button. It was marketed, built and sold with this information directly upfront as a “distraction-free” way to write the first draft. In short, it does what it says it does and does not do what it says it does not do - nothing more, nothing less. Yet, in the Freewrite forums, I'm always amazed by the number of people who want to create a new product out of the one thing they supposedly purchased for its simplicity. So much so, that the guys at Astrohaus – the makers of the Freewrite – are working to put an SDK package together so users can make changes to the existing product. So it would seem… everyone will get their chance to recreate the Freewrite into what they want it to be, or at least get close.

That said… The Freewrite does exactly what it was built and advertised to do before any of us actually bought it. There was no subterfuge, no corner-cutting, no hiding of special features just to annoy anyone. I imagine the guys at Astrohaus hear quite a lot more negativity than they may have previously anticipated, simply because a good many users have become used to gadgets with so many features they practically run themselves. We are a society spoiled by technology, and by the idea that we must have it all in order to be happy. It’s sad, really… But then, I collect and use typewriters on a regular basis, so I understand not everyone appreciates the simpler things in life as much as I do. So then why buy it in the first place, if that is your frame of mind?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a total techno-junkie and love my gadgets, but I do appreciate the ability to use a single tool to get a single job done. In the case of the Freewrite, that job is a simple drafting process, which comes out more legibly than handwritten text, and allows markups so that the user can have certain style elements in their document. I also have my ideas about what could be done to make it more functional, but that isn’t what it was built or designed for and I knew before I bought it, as I’m sure all of the other Freewrite users did as well. That its features and functions are incredibly limited was, in fact, a selling point for me. If anyone bought it with the hopes or ideas that it would somehow do more than it was advertised to do and be, they have no one to blame but themselves for their unhappiness. To constantly tell the guys at Astrohaus what they should have done or should do is pointless in my humble opinion.

As I understand it, the Freewrite came about because the internet and cell phones are so incredibly distracting; writers find they can’t get their desired amount of writing done. I’ve seen memes all over the internet showing pie charts like the example above, implying the distracting nature of the internet. The Freewrite was built to be utilitarian in nature in order to start the writing process, move only in a forward momentum and not look back until the work is finished - period. It’s a productivity thing, and any writer knows, the editing, rewriting and formatting process is finished on the computer, and so it is with the Freewrite.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I'm always amazed by the number of people who want to create a new product out of the one thing they supposedly purchased for its simplicity. Why bother buying it if that’s the case? Why not build or buy something that does what you really want it to in the first place if this isn’t your cup of tea? The Astrohaus people built the Freewrite to be what THEY want it to be, and what they thought other writers wanted as well. Some of us are perfectly happy with it and use it without complaint, because we understand it to be a simple drafting tool with some cool features for formatting and uploading to a variety of favorite apps, such as Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, email, or even the user’s PC/Laptop, whichever is the tool of choice. But let’s face it… if you want it to do what it was never meant to do then perhaps you need to buy something else or build your own ideal writing tool. Me? I love my Freewrite and will continue to use it as it was intended to be used. To the guys at Astrohaus, I say, “Two thumbs up and job well done, fellas!”

© 2018 C A Bennett


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