Look how far we’ve come. From typewriters to desktops to laptops to netbooks to iPads to smart phones; seems as though you can write on virtually any device today. Yet, I sometimes prefer the old standby—pen & paper. There is something powerful about the simplicity of writing with pen & paper.
Such a simple medium. No keys. No incessant tapping. No delete, backspace, spellcheck or undo buttons. Instead, a pen, the ultimate writing instrument, glides across the page freeing your mind to, well, speak its mind. Loopy cursive handwriting brings into perfect synchronization the idea and the instrument. And when your idea stalls? No problem, you keep your engine running by doodling in the margin until you’re ready to assemble your next sentence or pound out the next paragraph.
While laptops, netbooks and iPads are easy to tote with you, what is more portable than pen & paper? Some of my favorite articles were written on a legal pad under a shade tree by a bay, down at the beach or overlooking a valley. And nothing stimulates the imagination like the aura of the outdoors. Grab a pen, any pen, and paper, any paper, and let your mind loose. Admit it, some of your best article ideas were scrawled across a bank deposit slip, a grocery store receipt, on the back of an envelope or on the proverbial napkin. Pen & paper; it’s part of a writer’s DNA. (I think Steven Jobs understood this. After all, isn’t the iPad in all likelihood loosely named after, well, a pad of paper? Sure, some will argue it’s more likely named after a “touch pad.” Yet, you can flip the pages of an iPad like a pad of paper, right? And isn’t a pad of paper also called a tablet? Is this a stretch? Maybe. I’ll leave it for you to mull over.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love new technology and I own the most current laptop, desktop, software and iPhone. And all are central to my daily life. I’d be lost without the efficiency of electronic communication, but I still contend that there’s something “pure” about a writer with pen & paper.
With these iconic tools of the trade there are no rules or restrictions. Go ahead, doodle outside the lines when you can’t find the right words, jot in the margins, and scribble notes to yourself. There is a freedom pen & paper bring. Can’t think of your opening line? Okay, start coloring and wait, it will come. Ever notice how you naturally give your pen permission to scrawl all over an entire page without any inhibition, reservation or regret? Sometimes the blank page of my laptop is a little more intimidating.
Yes, there’s a mysterious power in writing a first draft with pen & paper. It magically rekindles and reinforces the artistry of being a writer.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement. Blog entries are posted once a week on Thursday.
You may contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.