Pen to Paper

I’m a keyboard writer. Whenever I sit down to write a new story, or work on an existing one, it’s usually at the computer. It can be a desktop or laptop, I’m not picky. I type faster than I write, so when my creativity is in overdrive, typing is the best way to keep up with my brain.

However, I’ve found that when I’m struggling creatively, or feeling the pangs of writer’s block, I go directly for the blue ballpoint pen and my favorite notebook.

I have found the motion of handwriting, and the feel of a pen gliding against paper relaxes me. I can always create with pen and paper when other methods fail me.  Take a blue pen, a handy notebook, add some great songs streaming from my IPOD, and you have my ideal recipe for refreshing ideas and creative freewrites.

I’ve mentioned before how I keep a writer’s journal. I try to write in it regularly, but I have trouble continuing the practice for more than a couple of weeks at a time. Part of the problem with consistency is: when I sit down to write in my journal, I end up flipping to the back of my notebook and writing some form of fiction. Now—I know this isn’t an actual problem, but it certainly distracts me from journaling.

I have other methods to fight writer’s block. A brisk walk helps when I’m feeling restless. The fresh air clears my head, and gives me time to think without the distraction of a blank page. Sometimes I just take a nap. Have you ever woken from sleep with a brilliant idea you had to write down immediately? Me too!

What are your methods for fighting the lull in your creativity?

Do you have a ritual when you write? Same chair, or sitting next to your favorite window, maybe the same lucky pen or notepad?

Do you need music or a quiet room?

16 thoughts on “Pen to Paper

  • Pen & paper helps me a lot with writer’s block, too. It makes me feel like a “real” writer – brings me back to my pre-computer writing roots.

    The absolute best remedy for me is staring at the ocean & I feel so blessed when I can do it. I stay at home with a 4 year old & quiet moments are hard to come by. Time alone on the beach brings my mind right back to center & makes the words flow again.

    As for rituals, I have to write whenever I get a minute, so I gave up the luxury for the time being. However, if I’m really not feeling it, a mocha helps me transition.

    • The beach helps me too. When I feel like I’m unraveling I have to go to the beach to decompress. I have four kids–okay, well, actually I have three kids and a husband. 🙂 Quiet is hard to come by here too, that’s why I use the IPOD.
      Ditto the mocha too, only a latte instead.
      Yeah, coffee always helps me think.

  • Showers and Housework! No matter how dry the creative lake becomes all I need to do is turn on the shower or grab a mop and I think of a million things that need to be jotted down at once.

    I have way too many journals and don’t use them often enough. Maybe it is because I can get more words down by typing and so it is easier to keep up with my train of thought. One journal I have gets used more often than the others. It is the one where I write down my story ideas. It is kind of silly, but every time I have a new idea I write it on the next blank space and draw a cloud around it. As if it represents my thoughts visually.

    Boy that sure makes me sound a bit weird. 🙂

    • I love the cloud! It’s cute. Doodling helps me think too and sometimes braiding my hair–now that’s weird.
      I have three ‘active’ notebooks. One I carry with me for whatever comes to mind and one for each novel. When I write notes about a particular novel in a different notebook I rip the page out and stick it in the appropriate notebook when I get a chance.
      I also keep extra notebooks in my car, bedroom, kitchen and work,just-in-case.

  • Good reminder! I’m the exact same way, but I forget to pull out a journal when I feel stuck or just . . . slow, creatively. Also, I find I do better with handwritten story notes and outlines. If I need them someplace neater or more permanent or in scrivener somewhere, I don’t mind rewriting them. It just reinforces it in my head anyway. But I like having those on paper, in my hands, and being able to shuffle them around or write in different colored inks or different colored notecards. It’s how I bring the visual into my process. I need color and visual stimulation or I get stuck. When it’s really bad, I’ll collage or just rip images out of magazines and tape them up on my whiteboard so I have new story images to look at when I’m writing . . . or just to remind me to write. 🙂

    • I started collages but quickly realized I didn’t have enough images and I just couldn’t justify using my colored ink to print them. I did tape some good visuals to my works space along with some really great quotes. That’s not to mention the millions of post-its.

  • I need quiet to write. And because I type faster than I write and I have lousy handwriting, I generally type if I’m trying to do any kind of connected prose.

    Poetry I write longhand.

    Lists, too — they HAVE to be longhand. And I do write a lot of lists: character traits; story sequences; sentence fragments. I generally use purple or burgundy pens or Pentel .5 mm mechanical pencils. Now I’m drawing maps to figure out the geography of my novel, since it takes place in a bunch of different places and the distances need to make some sense to me.

    If I were ever to outline something, I’m pretty sure I’d need to get the outline framework done longhand.

    I do have a bunch of journals, but I don’t use them too much — and when I do, I start from the back because I’m left-handed and it’s much easier for me to have the spiral binding on the right side of the page.

    I LOVE bringing my laptop to the kitchen table in the morning and writing there facing the morning sun. But only as long as I can be there alone, so I have to get up really early for that. Otherwise I usually write at my desk in my office.

    • “Pentel .5 mm mechanical pencils.” Is there any other kind?! They are the best aren’t they?

      The only problem I find with them are having enough. No matter how many I put on my desk by week’s end I am left with none. Apparently the men in my house think the same of them.

      I’ve often thought of getting a combination safe for my writing stuff!

      • It’s why I started writing with purple pens. Nobody will steal them. I was in Staples a couple of days ago and saw Pentel has pencils in pink, purple. Would that help?

      • I thought of that a while back and purchased one of each. My son ended up lifting both of them. Do you think if I made a pencil grip out of a “cardboard applicator” it would do the trick?

  • “I LOVE bringing my laptop to the kitchen table in the morning and writing there facing the morning sun.”
    YES!
    I get up on the weekends and tiptoe through the house and make coffee as quietly as I can. All this hoping for at least an hour of quiet time. Of course, as soon as I have my mug of coffee and the laptop booted up, my son drags into the kitchen asking for breakfast. 🙂 At that point it’s pointless to even consider quiet time. Trevor is more like three little boys.
    I also take notes and outline longhand. My outline is a calendar. I write scenes down on the appropriate day, it helps to keep everything in real time.
    List are also handwritten–always.
    As for quiet while writing–forget it. That’s impossible. I already told my husband I couldn’t be a published author until I have a PRIVATE OFFICE with a door.

  • I started writing in a spiral notebook with a set of mechanical pencils. Over the first few months of this new process for me, that worked. I filled two of them with notes and ideas. I find now that I do best when composing on the computer. I’m lucky because 1. I’m retired, and 2. My husband would rather be in his shop working than in the office we share, so I have the solitude I need when writing.
    I do need to remember to have a notepad in the car. I had to stop today to write an idea on a gas station receipt…

  • “I had to stop today to write an idea on a gas station receipt…”
    LOL! I’ve had to do this too. That’s why my husband bought me a small digital recorder for the car. I keep extra small notebooks in the car for family trips.

  • I’m normally spoiled rotten by the quickness provided by a keyboard but on the beach or occasionally on the back porch, I’ll put words on paper the old-fashioned way.

    I’m used to writing in a quiet place but who knows, if I gave it a try, perhaps I’d have success with distraction too.

    If I could break through my narrow-mindedness, I’d probably change my self-imposed rules.

    Happy Easter!

    • You–narrow-minded, hum. I don’t see that about you. 🙂
      I think you do occasionally fly by the seat of your pants, don’t you…
      I read chapters from your MS, no since pretending for us. 😉

  • Pen, notepad, iPod and coffee.

    ‘Nuff said! 😉

Leave a Reply