I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed in today’s over-stimulated world. Maybe you wake up in the morning, brew a pot of coffee ( or single serve cup), check your email, maybe browse Facebook, take a poop, then sit down for some quality writing time. You fire up the laptop, tablet, (or in my case) the trusted old desktop. Perhaps you find your favorite streaming music service and start your WRITING playlist.
Dude, we’ve clicked like a hundred buttons before we even write a single word!
Now, this isn’t going to be one of those simplify-the-chi in your life posts -don’t worry.
I have embraced technology. While I am in awe of those people who write their first drafts in pen and paper, I NEED my word processor. I need to feel the keys. I can’t write a paragraph without my hands cramping to near-leprosy levels. HOWEVER, there is one writing tool I cannot live without and that is my faithful notebook. Ironically, it was given to me by the wife as a Christmas present because I could easily upload the pages to Evernote (another e-tool worthy of its own post). BUT, I don’t use it for its technological ease. I use it because it easily fits into my work lunchbag.
The thing never leaves my side.
Because, as a writer, my head is always full of stupid ideas. I never know when inspiration is going to strike. How many times have you been out in public or at work and had NO way to capture that James-Patterson-sized idea? You can’t always count on the always-present clean cocktail napkin in which to scribble everything down. Phone batteries die. Besides, even if you have a phone to jot down that idea, you have to open an app, type it out, etc. By then the idea could be nothing more than a jumbled brain fart. You’re certainly not going to remember it by the time you get back to your writing station. You just won’t.
Oddly enough, it was reading that started my notebook carrying habit. I am always reading whether it’s fiction or the latest true crime volume. So, I began jotting down my thoughts in the notebook as I read. I write down things I liked, things that sucked, and ideas I wanted to further flesh out. At my age, with all the illegal substances I’ve done, my memory is shot.
I highly recommend carrying around a notebook at all times. It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy. Hell, when I worked retail I used one of those tiny spiral bound pocket pads for capturing my inspiration. The funny thing is, once I started my daily practice of keeping notes – MY WRITING INCREASED IN BOTH QUALITY AND QUANTITY. I was no longer wasting time at my desk outlining and struggling to remember what direction I wanted to go. It was already there on paper! I could pick up right where I had left off.
Besides, losing a 99 cent notebook is a much smaller crisis than running a thousand dollar smartphone through the washer and dryer.
All those technological tools are great – Evernote, OneNote, Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Google Keep etc… But isn’t it nice to declutter every once and a while?
I remember the Y2K scare. I remember visiting a local coffee shop during Christmas of 1999 and seeing a hopeful message on their sign display: We’re Y2K ready. We have plenty of pencils.
How about you? What must-have tools keep you writing?
You’re still writing, right?