8 Things Only Pen and Paper Writers Understand

by Brigid Ronan

We've come a long way since the days of quills and inkwells — so much so that today's authors have a multitude of options at their fingertips (literally) when it comes to writing, whether by laptop, desktop, iPad, tablet, typewriter, or plain old pen and paper. Ultimately for us writers, the question boils down to this: To type, or not to type?

Although typing may be the most efficient approach to banging out the first draft of that essay, article, script, or novel, I've realized over time that I just can't shake the pen and paper approach to creative writing. For reasons unknown to me, ideas just seem to flow more freely when I can scribble them onto a page. Case in point: I wrote the first draft of this paragraph in a tattered old journal (OK, now I'm writing about writing— how meta!).

Perhaps this old school method is gratifying for sensory reasons, too — who doesn't love the smell of new paper, the weight of a pen in her hand? After all, too many hours spent staring at a computer screen can give you poo brain.

So, where do you fall in the great pen vs. keyboard debate? If you too swear by the power of a pen, here are eight things that may hit close to home:

There's nothing like the smell of a brand new notebook, and all the promise it holds...

"New car smell" has nothing on fresh paper!

Writing is about quality, not quantity

Sure, typing your material straightaway on a computer is likely more efficient, but if you feel less inhibited by brainstorming that first draft with pen and paper, then the potential for better work is worth the extra time.

What's your instrument?

Much like Picasso, I too went through a Blue Period (bright blue pen, that is). Nowadays, I stick to a trusty set of black pens, though some writers prefer pencils for their erasing capabilities.

Environment is key

Naturally, the importance of a good writing environment applies to all writers. Without the burden of a laptop charger, temperamental WiFi connection, or search for an available electric outlet, your options for finding a nice, cozy spot to work are nearly limitless. Great ambiance (for me, a quiet coffee shop or park bench) makes for better focus!

The power of the doodle

Do you often find yourself staring at a woefully blank page, unable to find one measly little word to begin the epic first sentence of your story? Sometimes a little freewriting or doodling is all it takes to break the ice and get those ideas flowing. Who said doodling was just for passing time in grammar school classes?

On that note...

A messy page is the sign of a creative mind

There's nothing wrong with a page full of crossed out words, notes in margins, and an assortment of scribbles. In fact, I find that adding little notes or alternate word choices in margins helps me when revising my work later on.

Spell check? What spell check?

I'm the first to admit that spelling and grammar check are truly wondrous computer tools; however, I'd wager that paper and pen writers get a better mental workout when we must actively look up grammar rules and obscure word spellings rather than relying on autocorrect to fix things for us.

You guard your notebook with your life

Until you've transferred all that hard work from your notebook to a computer, you run the risk of losing the material if those pages somehow go missing. Call me crazy, but there are times I believe misplacing my notebook would wreak more havoc on my stress levels than misplacing a wallet or phone.

Now, excuse me. I'm off to go scribble.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy (9)