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In my family, we buy everyone presents for Christmas. Brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dogs, cats, parakeets, and the mice living in my parents’ kitchen. It’s quite an ordeal, and leads to stressful brainstorming of ideas throughout the holiday season. When word got around that I was planning on diving into the world of novel-writing, you could feel a collective sigh of relief among the family as the theme of my Christmas presents revealed itself.

When prodded for a wish list, I was glad to offer any and all ideas related to reading and writing. Writing pads, books in the genre I enjoy most, books about the craft itself; I threw out these ideas like breadcrumbs to a flock of pigeons and they snatched up every last one of them. My sister however, ventured slightly out of the box with her gift to me this year. She stuck with the suggested theme, but presented me with something I had not asked for…or even thought of, for that matter.

Voice recognition software.

This computer software installs on my PC and syncs up with Microsoft Word to enable me to speak what I want to write, rather than type it. Did I know this sort of thing existed? Sure. But I had never considered it as a tool for my writing until I unwrapped it Christmas morning. Having just finished cleaning up the aftermath of Hurricane Christmas, I have not yet tried this new toy though I plan to very soon.

But it got me to thinking about the physical process of writing and how it can vary wildly from person to person. In the days of Shakespeare, the quill pen was essentially the only game in town. The inventions of pencil lead and metal pen points brought variety to the writer during the late 1700s and of course the typewriter ushered in a new era of writing in the 1800s.

Today, writers have so many options when it comes to “the written word”, it’s almost as if you’re able to tailor your writing experience to you specific desires. This new technology, which will enable me to simply speak the words I wish to write, is just the latest in a long line of advancements in the craft. For some, not being able to physically put pen to paper may be a deterrent. I can understand that. I carry my notebook and pen with me all the time so I can jot down notes and connect thoughts with arrows and diagrams.

But I believe this new form of “writing” will be helpful to me. When I sit down at my computer to type a blog post or compose a short story, I agonize over every keystroke. Finding the perfect combination of words and phrases sometimes slows my progress and hinders the creative flow. Perhaps being able to simply speak what’s already composed in my head will give me the freedom to let the story flow more naturally. I can always go back and change some words here or there.

So I’m excited to try my latest Christmas present and use it on my novel. For all you writers out there; what’s your favorite instrument to use in the writing process? What environment is most conducive to helping your creative juices flow? Let’s share some thoughts here!

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