Old & New School of Writing

It’s funny to me, I write fastest on the computer where I can type as fast as I see the words and sentences in my head. But if I want to plan or am unsure of an idea it goes into a notebook. I have dozens of notebooks filled with various writing ideas and projects. Some devoted to one idea that I fleshed out and worked through on the pages. Others partially filled as one idea ended and a new one started, sometimes on the same page. I have a few that I decorated using stamps and stickers to add color to an otherwise boring page or to help me remember a particular idea.

Not completely new school, using only computer, and no longer completely old school, using only paper. There was a time when I was completely old school, but that is only because for me there was a time when there were no computers. If I could write on the computer like I do in notebooks I would, but despite having tried many programs on several different computers and devices I have yet to find one that allows me to write using a stylus, doodle, draw arrows, and keep everything looking like it does in a notebook.

A computer has a certain look and feel to everything that I produced on it, a sameness. That sameness for me is one of the reasons why I can’t read books on the computer. I have read a few, but the sameness of the pages tends to be as distracting as if I was surfing the web at the same time. Whereas with a book there is a physical connection that helps me focus. It is the same way with a notebook. When I am trying to work though an idea, for example the Nail Clippers lost my way or the choose your own adventure idea I want to be focused. Staring at computer screen my mind wanders and I find myself bring up other files or surfing the web for research or “research.” Next thing I know an hour or two has passed and I am no longer working on what I started on.

A notebook keeps me focused. I can see the notes, I can scratch them out or add to them without having to deal with a program and as they occur to me. Trying to freeform brainstorm on the computer gets me a list or a paragraph and there is no way for me to connect them without reorganizing them. On a notebook page I can draw arrows showing how one idea is connected to another, sometimes the arrows cross several pages. Something else I cannot do on the computer is draw something out such as a room layout or how something looks-a city scape or weapon or outfit. I can do that in a notebook.

The downside to a notebook, for me, is taking notes and putting them into the computer. If the process of transcription was not boring enough, add in me adding to the notes while I am transcribing. Sometimes changing whole ideas on the fly as I type. One day I will find that program and device that really suits my needs, until then one foot in the modern world and another in the old world.

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6 thoughts on “Old & New School of Writing

  1. I have the same problem as you. I love using notebooks, but could never quite come to terms with the extra time it takes. It feels like a waste, since the writing in itself takes longer and I could have typed it in the first place. So I will only break out the old pen and paper if I feel like I’m stuck.

    I just bought an IRISnotes 2 pen though, which might allow me to at least skip the typing up step. It’s pretty pricey, but if it works, I think it’s worth it. I tried it briefly before buying it, and it seems to be able to write my handwriting just fine, right out of the box.

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  2. I’m exactly the same. Planning is written, whilst the actual writing and editing is typed. I’ve never understood why that is—even tried altering my ways so it was all on the same medium—but it never worked, as at the moment, this is the way I work best. The only thing I do need to work on is distractions/motivation, so I can write/plan more in a day. Great post.

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    1. Ankoku1331

      Thank you. I too gave putting everything on computer and found myself with paper in hand after a few days without realizing I had done so. I stopped swimming upstream at that point. 🙂

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  3. When I was slaving my butt off working, I used to have spontaneous ideas for a new piece of writing or, since I’m a musician, a new song and I took to carting around notebooks for my stories and a manuscript notebook for my music – but then came the arduous task of transferring this stuff to the computer and I just didn’t have the time to do this most days.

    So I made myself remember… even though I would write myself notes with my idea so I’d be reminded to work on them later. Being a computer systems engineer, for me to not utilize my computers’ tools just didn’t make sense so I stopped piling up paper all over the place. I’m a voracious reader and once had a library of nearly a thousand books – hardcover and paperback – and I resisted ebooks because as you said, there’s something about holding a book in your hand that really connects you to what you’re reading.

    But I learned – and after I lost a couple of books – that ebooks can give me that same sense of connection and, today, I have a library of several thousand books that I can carry with me on my iPad; I even have a reader that’ll keep my reading speed and comprehension sharp which is important brain exercising. Today, I have no idea why I was so resistant to ebooks!

    I read, I write, I compose music – and all of it on my computer. It’s easier but it isn’t because I still have to write the story or compose the song…

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    1. Ankoku1331

      It’s good to see that the transition can be made. I’m not there yet. I can say, having a Kindle reading ap on all of my mobile devices that having the ability to read a book anywhere without carrying a book around is great. When I am home though, I want a book in my hands. I think that comes from the connection I mentioned earlier and my desire to keep the video-computer-technology interaction down at home. I get more than enough computer time elsewhere.

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