Somewhat frequently of late, I have found myself reading a message—in text, in an email, in chat—on my phone and wanting to respond, but waiting until I am back in front of a real keyboard to actually do so.
While I could type out my response on my phone, I find it annoying to do so, even after fifteen years of using touchscreen keyboard on mobile devices. I find it to be slow and clunky, both in terms of the physical logistics of the keyboard itself and the cramped visual environment of a device designed to fit in my pocket. The latter is especially true when I am writing anything longer than a few sentences; a small display hides too much outsides the frame and I have a tendency to lose track of what I have already written and where I am going.
For me, I do not think the solution is to find ways (a tablet! a Bluetooth keyboard! automations and UI tweaks!) to make my mobile device more conducive to writing and composition. Actually, I am fairly sure there is not even a problem here that I need to solve.
I have largely come around to the belief that—at least when it comes to creative writing, public discourse, and really any communication that requires deeper thought than “I’m at the grocery store, is there anything you need?”—friction in the process is good. I’m all for writing down partially formed thoughts and half-baked ideas as they come to me and I think about them, but that is what notebooks are for.
If I have to wait until I am in front of my laptop to respond to an email, that’s fine. Same for writing a blog post like this one or responding to something someone else has posted. The delay is good for sitting with my thoughts for a bit and making sure I’m not responding in the moment.