As technology marches on, some of our toughest writing challenges have nothing to do with finding topics or the right words to express our ideas. For example, for the past week I've been writing blog entries from afar as we visit an ailing friend. I have my list of topics with me so I won't be at a loss for content ideas, and the words flow easily enough. That's not a problem.
The problem is with equipment. My wireless connection works, but not reliably at any given time. It fades in and out. The Blogger server has not been any more reliable than my wireless connection. When the two hit a low at the same time... I won't alarm or bore you with the full list of geek talk.
These are high-level challenges that most writers will never face. The more common tech problems involve things like forgetting to save a file and losing a story when the electricity flashes off, or screaming vile words at Word when you can't get a photo to stay where you want it in a document.
Here's my rationale for the time I invest working these things out: Research is showing conclusively that both writing and solving problems keep our brains healthy and supple. These activities foster the growth of new neural synapses -- those are the connections between brain cells involved in learning and remembering -- even past the age of ninety. It used to be thought that learning stopped around age sixty. What a scary idea for those of us who are "older than dirt!"
When I come upon a tech problem, like a blog that won't post, migrating graphics, a blog post with half a sentence missing or the wrong font in three paragraphs, even after it looked perfect in preview, I take a deep breath and chant, "I'm keeping my brain young!" Right now my brain feels very young indeed.
(Right there I'm sorely tempted to insert :-), the smiley face I use so liberally in e-mail, but I've arbitrarily decided it will never be appropriate in other writing contexts. I accept the challenge of finding a creative way of expressing emotive thoughts in words rather than symbols or icons.)
You'll probably never need to fix blog bleeps, but you will encounter the occasional tech problem. Even acclaimed and prolific writers like Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles and Beatrix Potter mystery series and other works, has occasionally written of computer problems in her blog, which covers a wide range of topics. If you come upon one that stumps you, send me an e-mail or post a question as a comment and I'll try to help, perhaps even with a blog-post to help everyone.
Just remember, the very act of writing is keeping your brains and emotions healthy, and solving problems enhances that effect.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal