The Pen. Is It Still The Tool For Writers?

On my writing journey I've learned lots of things about myself, about how to write and about how others do things. I know that I struggle to write if there's anything important going on in my life, I just can't move past the excitement, trepidation or worry. I've learned that there's lots of different ways to write a book and no one agrees on the 'right' way. And I've learned that everyone has their own way of creating and putting a novel together.

The pen is mightier...

When presented with the word 'Writer' my mind conjures up images of a man with black hair and dark-rimmed glasses sitting at his desk, pen in hand staring thoughtfully ahead. Pen in hand? I wonder if this is just a generation thing or something that all writers think they should do? When I first started trying to write a book I had my laptop for the actual writing but most of my notes were handwritten in notebooks or on post-its. Other writers blog about how they carry a pen and notebook around with them just in case they get hit with inspiration while they're out.

iPad - A useful note taker.

Over the last few years I've learned that handwritten notes are no good for me. Even if I do write things down I never go back and read them. I have numerous half-filled notebooks around the house with scrawls of ideas and research but not once have I read through them. I love the idea of writing with a pen, being inspired by my own words and seeing my handwriting in front of me. I feel like that's what real writers do but I can't work that way. If I take handwritten notes while researching the information won't go in.

I have tried to use a pen and paper to hash out ideas and always manage to get to a point where I give up. This week I've been learning a lot about outlining ideas, plotting and character creation and most of my notes have been on the computer. I've read websites and had a notes page open ready for ideas to strike. The weird thing is that I've made more progress this week then ever before. 

My novel was at a standstill. Although I've finished the first draft I still haven't managed to finish a second and it's been months! In the middle of last week I decided to stop moping and get on with organising the plot lines and making sure it all works. I stumbled upon a website ( that helped me outline my novel and I'm currently looking at my characters and making sure they all fill a vital role in the story. The difference this week is that all of my work has been on the computer as opposed to some of it (the creation) on the computer and the rest of it as handwritten notes. In four working days I've managed to make loads of progress and my story has already changed drastically.

The way forward, at least for me.

Working exclusively on the computer means that all my notes are in one place and I'm not rushing around the house searching for that yellow notebook with characters in it. It's what works for me. Being able to tab through windows instead of searching through pages makes such a difference. If I'm out I have my phone which syncs with my Mac so that all my notes are accessible. Technology has come a long way since I was at school and that makes it so much easier to keep track of all your scribblings. 

Having done both I know that this is my preference. I wonder if younger generations of writers will prefer computers over handwritten notes?

How many notebooks do you own? If you hand write your notes how often do you read through them?

No comments

Post a Comment