Thursday, September 01, 2011

Falling in Love With Your Tools

Frankly, between you and me, I think lots of hobby writers are more in love with the technology and tools of writing than the words. It's funny how we feel we need the latest product to enable ourselves to type in the car, in a motel, on the back porch, in addition to every room in the house including the bathroom.

We buy iPads, notebooks (electronic), laptops, and readers of every shape and size. We buy software to help us design plot and keep track of characters. We download programs that actually time our online activity, shutting us off with a timer to make us get back to the task of writing. Or how about the programs that "track" the time we spend writing?

We have more "tools" than stories written.

Then there are the how-to books, classes, podcasts, and conferences. I'd love to hear how people compare the number of hours "learning" how to write and "networking" how to write, compared to actually writing.

We have more hours invested in investigating writing than hours spent writing.

We get excited about new ways to finagle, record or edit our words when all we really need to do is sit down in the quiet with a pencil and paper.

Pencil and paper. Imagine that. I plugged in my electric pencil sharpener today and sharpened a number two pencil, and it felt so great . . . like shedding the shoes in late spring to walk barefoot in the grass. I felt more raw and native in my writing, penciling an outline to a new project.

Is there such a thing as primal writing? Getting back to old school ways? If your power went off right now, and you had this great idea, would you grab paper and writing utensil, light a candle, and write? Or wait until your "tools" came back on?

There's something magical about pad and pencil. Remember the start of school? The smells of school supplies? I adored sharpening a pencil and couldn't wait to jump on a blank sheet of paper and fill it up. Yet a blank computer screen intimidates, not inviting at all. Plain paper welcomes you to come sit down and share intimate moments.

Try one day of writing - not typing, but writing. Recall the feel of erasing, then brushing and blowing off the shavings as you correct your own grammar - simply because you were slowed down and laid back enough to catch your own mistake. Some remarkable stories have evolved from one-on-one with paper. Makes one wonder if they would have come about just as sweet and genius from a keyboard, with Twitter on in the background?


BECKY said...

I so agree. Except for one thing. I'm addicted to mechanical pencils which I call "clicky" pencils. I can't stand the kind you have to sharpen! Isn't that funny?

Lane Diamond said...

Indeed, when I get stuck electronically, I often grab paper and pencil to work my way out of it. There's something about the tactile sense, with pencil in hand, that combines with the visual sense, with a full page before me, to drive the creative process.

Hope Clark said...

It is remarkable when we like writing with pencil but hesitate with a blank Word document open on the screen. I'll take a pencil, mechanical or otherwise, or a fine tip pen any day.

Joanna said...

Ah, but Hope! You forget us disadvantaged, pencil-challenged lefties who will ruin our pinky fingers and our page if we follow your advice. I love freehand writing, but the mess I make leads me back time and again to my laptop.

Karen Lange said...

You know, I used to write out everything by hand but transitioned to doing everything on my laptop. I think I need to take a pad and pen and go sit at the park for a while, for inspiration and old time's sake.

Have a great weekend!