Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why I Like Writing Fiction on a Mac

Salt or sugar on your tomato? Do you say "Catsup" or "Ketchup"? Sweet or UnSweet Tea? Pen or pencil? Camaro or Mustang? Mac or a PC? What type of computer do you use to spin your tales of Christian romance, history, or suspense? That is today's pondering into the wide, wide world of the great technological continuum.

As writers, we have many avenues to script our stories into a form that others can see. But, no matter how you plot out your stories with pen and paper, sooner or later you must sit down at your computer (be it a desktop or laptop) to script the story playing in your imagination. Your computer becomes the doorway to get your thoughts into a readable form.

That said, I sit down to an Apple Macintosh computer, specifically, a laptop. Gone are the days where Macs were not compatible with rest of the computing world. With the invention of the iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad, Apple has made it's way into our lives in many different ways. iTunes seems to be a household name now. It's hard to find somebody these days who doesn't have an iPod or an iPhone (and now the iPad device is once again changing how we read and view our print media).

Progressively catching up in the last 10 years, Macs have caught up to Windows in the compatibility race. Out of the box, a Mac comes with an incredible amount of software built right into the operating system. Apple Mail provides you with an email client. iPhoto allows you to organize the pictures you have taken to research your book. Safari, Apple's web browser, will have you surfing the internet waves in no time. Did I mention wifi reception (Apple calls it "airport") is also built in as a standard. I'll admit they can be pricey, however, there are many entry level versions that can always be expanded later with additional software and hardware capabilities.

As a writer, I find the ease of writing on a Mac to be a "technologically sound" way to write my fiction. There are even several writing apps for Macs. Some are geared toward organizing your thoughts, facts, and flow of your story. Google keywords OmniOutliner, Omni Software, and WriteRoom for starters. Even the iPhone and iPad have software made for writers (these purchased through the iTunes store). In my previous posting, I talked about writing to music. The Mac comes equipped (via iTunes) to provide excellent sound via built in speakers, headphones, or you can even buy external speakers if you would really like to jam (so that everyone can hear). iTunes lets you purchase songs from the iTunes store. For me, this is all geared towards helping me create my adventures.

Most importantly for us, Microsoft Office exists for Mac with little or no difference in crossover when sending files between the PC version of Office and the Mac version. In fact, one thing I like about Macs is that you can turn anything into a PDF file (which you know will then be viewed by others and look identical to what you intended). Mac uses the zip format as well. Bottom Line: The Mac Operating is simple and easy to use and customize.

That brings me to my last thoughts: security, stability, and support.

  • Apple does a great job at updating software via a very simple update process.
  • There are no virus dangers for the most recent operating systems that Mac has used. To be honest, there is little to no malware for mac either. There are a handful of trojans out there, but you actually have to be fooled into installing those (and that means you must enter your password and then choose to install it).
  • Apple has built in protection for the dangers that are out there specific to Mac computers.
  • You can buy Applecare with a new mac also (gives you 3 years tech service and customer support). There is also a user run support forum on Apple's website.
  • A hefty firewall built into the Operating System (currently called Snow Leopard by the way) keeps unwanted visitors out.
Just for the record, anti-virus software does exists for the Mac, but mostly to prevent any unwanted (and harmless to your Mac) Windows bugs from getting into your Mac (via email) and accidentally being passed along to your PC using friends. I recommend ClamXav for Mac (which is free) because it is simple and easy to use (and is not CPU hog).

We, as writers, cherish every moment of spinning our fiction, therefore, we need the devices we spin those tales on to work, be secure, be versatile, and fun to use. Our computers just need to work. We don't want to waste time trying to figure out if something is going bad, if you have a virus, or if it's "just dead, Jim."

Don't just take my word for it. Go check one out. No, I don't work for Apple nor do I own stock. But, I have been using them since the late 80's. I just enjoy writing on my Mac. In fact, as I write this post, I am listening to iTunes via earphones (Back to the Future soundtrack), chatting with other writers via Mac's built in iChat app, using Mac's built in word processing app, and sitting in my reclining chair infusing enough ice tea into my system to keep writing through the distant morning hours. Happy computing.


  1. Just have to say that I get all of those bells and whistles on my PC (and I have never gotten a virus, either). But when I looked for my first computer, Apple lost me because it wasn't compatible with anything else. If it had made a different choice back then, it might have more followers now. But why should I switch from something that has always treated me well?

  2. Not really asking anyone to switch. Just talking about why I like writing on a Mac. You should always stay with whatever works for you. I have nothing againt pc's.