Tools of the Trade

Sometimes, in the midst of a variety of editing and writing assignments, I overlook the process of writing. It seems straightforward enough – simply place ink or pencil to paper, or hover hands over a keyboard, and begin.

With tunnel-like vision on the words themselves, I tend to forget all about if the tools I’m using – whether it be that worn out notebook or a shiny laptop – are the right tools for the job.

After all, the software world is buzzing about DevOps (the marriage of “Development” and “Operations”), the seamless integration between the development and deployment of software, so perhaps it was time to pay some attention to my own personal “WritingOps”.

Could changing how I write radically shake up my writing life just as DevOps shook up the technology sector?

And then I found just the spark I needed to light the fires of change – the Freewrite Traveler.

Dubbed by its creators as a “smart typewriter”, this ultra slim (12x5x1 inches) and ultra-lightweight (1.8lb) device may just revolutionize your writing habits. In addition to being portable, it has almost a week of battery life, a claim few laptops can make. Add to that a one-button upload to your free cloud account ( available to all customers, and you will quickly find the barriers (and excuses) for not writing quickly evaporating.

But what if you are finishing that historical romance novel in an isolated cabin in Maine? Fear not – the Freewrite Traveler provides enough internal storage for your drafts until you can reach the Internet.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I don’t receive any commissions from Astrohaus for selling Freewrite Travelers. Additionally, there are some downsides that might just prove too jarring for MS Word users. To start with, you better upgrade your spelling game, as the simple editor does not include spellcheck. Also, the file format of your drafts will be plain old text (.txt) files, so say goodbye to formatting features or writing your Shakespearean sonnets in that fancy Olde English font. Finally, the price of the Freewrite Traveler is not trivial – $429 based on the current website. You may also find the navigation within your document awkward (as I did) as it is based on old school arrow keys, or the E Ink screen simply too tiny to be usable inside of a novel-length manuscript.

My point is not that the Freewrite Traveler is for everybody. My point is that maybe we all need to shake up our WritingOps a bit. Maybe you are a visual person and you decide to install an erasable white board in your office for diagramming your plots. Or, maybe your aim is to perform more public readings, so you join your local Toastmasters chapter.

Whatever improves the efficiency of your WritingOps is worth the time invested, even if like the Japanese process improvement philosophy of Kaizen, they are small continuous improvements. It is worth it because as the small stickers that ship with the Freewrite Traveler state – Words are hard.

And before you ask – yes, this was written on my Freewrite Traveler.