It’s happened to all of us, I’m sure; you sit down to write with the best intentions in the world, you are ready to GO! Right after you check Twitter. Then Instagram. Then that link your friend sent you. And before you know it you’re 12 links deep into Wikipedia reading about the fall of the Babylonian Empire because you always did wonder. It’s one of the pitfalls of using an internet-connected tool for writing. The internet doesn’t care that you have a deadline, and somewhere after the sixth cat compilation you stopped caring too.
You could, of course, always pick up a notebook and write but these days that’s not entirely practical or environmentally friendly. We’ve become accustomed to using keyboards – our fingers fly across them at a pace that actually keeps up with our thoughts. I once took all of my university lecture notes by hand but now I’m not sure I could tell you the last time I took a note on anything other than my phone or my laptop.
That’s what makes Freewrite an interesting tool. First called The Hemingwrite (thank God they changed that) when it started its Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, Freewrite is a portable keyboard with an E-ink screen about the size of a smartphone that wants to help you write without distractions. There are no apps and no browsers, just you, a blank E-ink screen, and a keyboard to write on. Just make sure you’ve done all the internet research you need before you begin.
That’s not to say Freewrite is completely disconnected. Though you can save your writing onto its internal storage capable of holding over one million pages, it also has WiFi connectivity so that you can upload everything to the cloud for extra security. Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote are all supported and files are saved in Plain Text format.
The Freewrite is really pushing itself as a device that wants to improve your writing experience. It’s a mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX Brown keys for “an incredibly tactile experience”, its body is made from a durable aluminium weighing around four lbs for portability, and its low power E-ink screen makes it easy to write in sunlight, as well as meaning its battery can last up to four weeks without requiring charging.
These high quality materials obviously come at a cost, though, because the Freewrite will set you back $549 (around £393) plus £25 shipping to the UK. This is a pretty high price for a device with such a limited use. I’d be quite content to buy a plastic box with the standard non-mechanical keyboard if it meant knocking £200 off the price tag.
That said, I can see there being a strong market for the Freewrite – considering it absolutely smashed its Kickstarter goals it’s safe to say there are plenty of people out there who are interested in a distraction-free writing experience. But they might be cheaper going for the ol’ ‘lock yourself in a cabin in the woods’ writer trick that’s often as successful at making you the subject of someone else’s novel rather than resulting in your own.