I don’t know how to use a computer. I’m just a writer.

Luddite. The first time I heard this word I was very confused. “I don’t know how to do that. I’m a luddite.” That’s how it was phrased to me over the phone by a sweet old woman. I had never heard that word before. I had to look it up.

Lud·dite

n.

Any of a group of British workers who between 1811 and 1816 rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment.

Yeah… that doesn’t sound right. What else you got?

One who opposes technical or technological change.

Closer. But the way this person used it was more like “I’m not good with technology.” I bring this up because since then I’ve run into scores of people who identify themselves as luddites as an excuse for ignorance.

I frequently hear “I don’t know how to use a computer. I’m just a writer.”

I find that completely unacceptable.

A computer is a tool. Like a pen, or a typewriter. It’s a more complex tool but if you’re a writer it’s your tool. You need to understand its basic functions. If you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re weakening yourself.

I’m talking about things like:

  • how to attach a file to an email
  • what a file extension is (and which programs go with them)
  • where you save your files (i.e. your hard drive and folders)
  • how to search your computer for a file
  • how to open a web browser and type a web address into the URL bar
  • how to install/uninstall a program
  • how to direct a file to open with a specific program
  • how to compress/uncompress a file

These are just a few basic things that you should know as a writer. Because if someone emails you a script file and it comes through with a blank icon and no file extension you cannot afford to scratch your head and say, “Huh. I wonder what that means.” You need to know how to fix it and get to work on that script.

Many of you will say, “It’s not as easy for me. I didn’t grow up with computers.” Cry me a river. In the early 1990’s 15% of all homes in America owned a personal computer. By 2005 it rose to nearly 90%. Don’t tell me you didn’t grow up with computers. You’ve been living with them for years.

But let’s say your problem is you just don’t know where to go. How can you learn?

FREE MAC WORKSHOPS — Seriously. Apple offers free workshops at the Apple stores.

Microsoft’s website offers free video tutorials.  There’s also a host of other websites with free instructional videos about Windows.

Just go to Google or YouTube. You’ll find tons of information. Free!

Or you could buy a book.

Mac for Dummies.

Windows for Dummies.

You took the time to learn how to write. Do yourself a favor and take the time to learn how to use your computer. You’re a writer after all.

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