Writing Tools

I used to buy fancy notebooks all the time, convinced that I would one day lovingly hand-write a literary masterpiece, and the brown suede cover and gold-dyed edges of the paper would be just the elegant binding to match the prose within.

Ha. I was so innocent. Perhaps there are some remarkably talented people out there who can make a first hand-written draft look good, the ink drying in even rows of tidy, beautiful letters. I am not one of them. Any time I write down a snippet of a story by hand, half the words are crossed out, every line has a little arrow pointing to a word replacement in the margins, and full sentences rapidly devolve into scrawled short forms that are so intelligible to others they might as well be written in code. After six months or so, even I can’t decipher that code.

Vintage Still Life

I stopped writing by hand ages ago, exactly when my family first bought a home computer. I think I must have been just barely into my teens, and discovered the joys of using backspace while writing. The first personal computer I ever owned seemed almost too good to be true, because it was all mine and no one would ever ask me to stop writing and let them have a turn so they could check their email. I still have some of those notebooks, but I only use them now for writing down random ideas when I’m not on my laptop. Most of the time, I’m not near one of those notebooks either, and little excerpts of dialogue that popped into my head get written down on the backs of bank statement envelopes and grocery receipts, preserved until I can type them up.

One of those notebooks is actually now featured in the header photo of this blog. If you were to flip the page, you’d find a bunch of notes on how a medieval household is run, and unrelated and out of context dialogue between two lovers, but nothing resembling an actual story.

I know I’m not alone in preferring to write on the computer. I think most people can type a lot faster than they can write by hand, and it’s easier to keep up with the flow of sentences and the characters speaking when the writer’s thoughts aren’t a million miles ahead of the words being scrawled on the page, and it’s undeniably easier to make text changes on a computer. I have always used Word for my writing, mainly because it’s already installed on the computer and is reasonably user friendly. Lately, I’ve been wondering about programs that are designed specifically for writers, like Scrivener. I’m curious whether that could potentially increase efficiency. Has anyone used Scrivener, or something similar?

Please do share your preferred method of writing, no matter what kind of writing it is. Are you someone who can’t resist the silkiness of a blank sheet of real paper and a good pen? Or would someone have to pry your keyboard out of your cold, dead hands?

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2 thoughts on “Writing Tools

  1. Ooh, I love the header. Okay, so right now I am in a write in a notebook phase. I started a novel in the fall and somehow a notebook was where I got my first ideas down. But only about half of it is in the actual notebook. Because that is more for ‘flash, I have a moment of time to write and I don’t have to go to the laptop which may or may not be running a virus scan, and I can get it out’ moment. But I am always waaaay more creative on my laptop and can get way more of the story out.

    When I’m writing children’s stories, I’m using a notebook or a typewriter. The story is slower paced and I don’t have to add as much. It all depends.

    I am forever writing on scraps of paper. Netflix covers are famous for being grabbed and scribbled on. I get receipts from the library and I am always using those for jotting down a note. So I know what you mean.

    I’ve never been willing to spend more than $5 on a notebook, but oh, there are some pretty ones. Composition books work find.

    And lastly, have you ever heard of Dark Room? It’s a simple program that works like a word processor on your computer. I may have blogged about it on Escaping the Inkwell at one point. You can change the look and while it doesn’t have spell check or anything, it’s a blank, no-fuss screen so it’s just typing.
    Loved the post, as usual. (I put all kinds of random things in notebooks too. No one would ever have a clue and there are arrows, crossed out words and ink stains since I use a fountain pen much of the time)

    • Oh yes, the library receipts! I write on those all the time too. It seems particularly fitting!

      I haven’t heard of Dark Room. I’ll check it out, and also look up your blog about it. Thanks for sharing!

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