I know we’re all different ages here (like Ron is really old and Amanda is really (really) young) – but let’s pretend we were all in junior high in the mid-80’s together, just for a second. (I won’t make you do the math, I’m 36, which hangs me squarely in ‘not old’ and ‘not young’ limbo, relatively speaking.)
So, back in junior high, calculators were forbidden. They were seen as cheating tools. But, did you know that today they’re considered learning tools? They’re included on school supply lists along with pencils and 3-ring binders and White Out (which is another cheating tool, if you ask me).
The Writer’s Calculator
When I’m doing math and I have to add up a receipt (4.29 + 2.79+ 3.39 + 5.99), I’m all about using my calculator (the one on my computer, the one on my Blackberry or the one sitting on my desk). And, I have to admit, I always feel like I’m doing something wrong when I whip out my computerized math-brain. It’s like the guy on Sex and the City that has to take a shower immediately after sex because 30 years earlier the nuns told him intercourse was dirty. Calculator use sets off a reflex that kicks the ‘you’re cheating!’ button in my head.
But, it’s different when I’m writing. We (writers) have our own ‘calculator’ – it’s called a Thesaurus. And just like my calculator, it also lives on my computer, on the web, on my phone and on my desk.
I love my Thesaurus.
I’ve tried many…but am firmly and deeply head over heels for the one that lives in my MacBook. Apple does a lot of things right and this is one of them. Personally, I don’t think it’s cheating to use the Thesaurus to find words because (and tell me if you can relate) I know the word I want to use, I just can’t remember it. But, when I’m adding up those decimally pointed amounts on the receipt, the calculator isn’t reminding me of the answer that I already know, it’s telling me the answer plain and simple.
My thesaurus, if you will, is like an artist’s pallet. I have the vision in my head, and I look to the thesaurus (from time to time) to see what colors will help me bring it to life.
Image credit: FranKaño