If the key to good writing is to get words down on the page and then rewrite and revise, as I’ve argued in many past posts, then one of the keys to rewriting is a good laptop. Just grab it, ignore the voices in your head that demand perfection or say you can’t write, and start putting your thoughts down on the page. It’s a reviser’s dream. You can call up the words and change them to your heart’s content, right before your eyes.
What effect is word processing having on our writing? For sure, there’s been a huge increase in the quantity of words being written. But what about quality? My guess is that the ease of revision allowed by word processing has led to improvements there as well. See http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/40171196?uid=3739256&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102246737331 for research that supports this conclusion.
For me, the most important benefit of a laptop is that it helps take the fear and loathing out of the writing process. (I use a Lenovo Thinkpad T410. Tell me what you use in the comments.) It’s just so easy to let the words flow out onto the page, admire the way they look and then change or erase them. In economic terms, it’s lowered the barriers to entry to become a writer. You no longer need to hire someone to typeset your words. The laptop does it for you, instantly.
For aspiring authors, this is all good news. Grab your laptop and begin today.