Columns > Published on March 22nd, 2017

9 Imaginary Gizmos For Writers Someone Needs To Hurry Up And Invent Already

Most writers are of the opinion that the last thing we need is another gizmo. Another screen, another device, another drain on our time.

But I think most writers are being a tad narrow-minded. I think they'd be apt to embrace technology if it offered us some things we could actually use. 

The Consumer-Level Self-Publishing Machine

It's 2017. We have consumer-level 3D printers! This was something that I couldn't have ever imagined being possible. Now I can process and extrude materials to make a pile of crap at home!

Okay, bad example. On a basic level, turning raw materials into piles of crap was always possible for those of us with functional GI tracts. But you know what I mean.

And yet, the old-ass technology of printing a book, cutting the paper, binding and getting it in a cover isn't something that's available on the consumer level. The Espresso Book Machine is probably the closest thing, but according to the rumors I've read, a brand new 3D printer costs a bit less than 2 months of the maintenance fee for The Espresso. 

How great would it be to hack out a book, slap it together and take it to the streets? How nice would it be for gift-giving, the adult writer's equivalent of that shitty ceramics class ash tray?

If it's possible to put 3D printing technology in the hands of average dum-dums like me, then home book printing doesn't seem wildly implausible.


This one is simple, A little projector makes it appear that, while you're writing at the coffee shop, you're actually with a friend. For some reason, this seems to dampen the hate others feel for you when you choose to write in public.

Writing by yourself is lame. Keep your loneliness at home where it belongs.

But with Holofriend©, you can make it appear as though you're not only working on a collaborative project, but also that you need to take up that entire table.

Super Fold-Out-Able Keyboard And Mouse

The only thing that's really keeping your phone from being a useful word processor is the lack of a keyboard and mouse.

Typing on the phone stinks, and editing on the phone is almost impossible unless there's a part of your finger that's so skinny it can slip between letters. By the way, I have a doctor's appointment for some...old man stuff next week, so if you ARE the owner of one of these skinny fingers, let's talk.

Some foldable stuff exists, but here's the real trick: The keyboard and mouse should be small enough to carry around in a pocket, with your phone. They should be as small as the phone, and if they could somehow fold out from the phone, that'd be even better.

Once this is invented we'll never be without a decent word processor again.

Ninja Escape Smoke Bomb Pen

I don't know what it is, I don't care how it works. Just please get on it, science.

This is mostly for parties. When someone says, "Oh, you're a writer? Anything that I would know?" 

If you've ever been there, you know that the only options are to say, "Only if you've heard of Girl On The Train!" and then hope there are no further questions because you haven't read Girl On The Train, or you could click a pen, enveloping the room in harmless smoke, and then make your escape.

At one time I would have hoped that people would just learn to stop with the personal questions. But then I watched a co-worker ask another co-worker whether she was pregnant. For the record, she was not pregnant.

If people can't avoid asking that question, there's no way they're going to avoid the writing question. Which is why we need the ninja smoke bomb pen.

See Also: The New And Improved Cyanide Capsule Tooth.

The Hangover Cure

Am I stereotyping writers and saying that they might hit the sauce now and then? Sure. Am I also, as I type this, wishing I could take a pill and wake up in the morning fresh as a daisy (daisies being the agreed upon freshest flower)? Also yes. 

So where the hell is it? How have we gone this long without the cure? We still have booze, we still overdo it, and yet we're still left with the headaches, the vomiting, the strange desire to go to church or maybe just eat at Chik-fil-A because we don't really know anything about church, and a sandwich from a religious-ish chicken place is as close as we can get.

I don't know what it is, I don't care how it works. Just please get on it, science.

The 'Men In Black' Mind Wiper

Not only could I see a great, twisty-plotted movie again for the first time, ("I don't know anything about this so-called Demolition Man, but it looks like quite a romp!") I could edit my own crap without the fact that I wrote it getting in the way. It's a true opportunity to read something as a reader and edit as an editor. 

Of course, this gadget would have to be a little more sophisticated than the one in the movie. You'd need to be able to wipe not just by increments of time, but specific events that may have occurred in bits and pieces over time. 

Plus, if you had a recent low point, like eating jelly beans off the floor because you spilled them everywhere and then got down to pick them up and decided eating them was better than putting them back in the canister, you could erase and live like a man who doesn't eat jelly beans off the floor. Twice.

The Shakespeare Reviver

This gizmo allows us to revive Shakespeare, have him talk to 8th grade English classes and apologize. The dude ruined 8th grade for me, and he made me 100% sure that plays were boring. 

I say we dig him up and give him the chance to say he's sorry. Also, we could settle a bet between me and a co-worker as to whether that thing Shakespeare wears around his neck is some sort of air filter.

The Cone Of Silence 

This should be a real thing. Get Smart, for all its silliness, had some good ideas. Electric Grass, Bazooka Broom. Why not the Cone? Why not a device that blocks out all sound, even the ones you're trying to hear?

We have earplugs, and they're alright unless you're trying to block out bass. Which is what EVERY annoying neighbor is all about. Seriously, it's like living next to Meghan Trainor over here.

I did find one effective way of reducing bass. It involves a well-sharpened pencil and a hint of madness. And eventually learning ASL. But sometimes you just can't take anymore Yeezy played as it was never meant to be heard: through the goddamn wall at 1:30 AM. 

Where's my cone, where's my silence, and where do all the other people who don't care for music live?

Legion Of Super-Heroes Flight Ring

I think half the reason we kept reading Legion of Super-Heroes comics was because of the cool flight rings. Why the hell else would we read a book about Bouncing Boy? Or Matter Eater Lad? A guy who can eat ANYTHING? Wow. Great power.

No girlfriend you say? Imagine that.

But the flight rings issued to all members were pretty badass. Slip one on your finger and bam, you can fly. Way better than a jetpack or a glass airplane or needing your parents to die on your home world and rocket you to Earth as a baby.

You might be asking yourself how this helps writers specifically. could...okay, this would just be awesome for everyone. I'm trying to be less selfish. Sue me.

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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