What happened to pen and paper?

Karalee’s Post #130

Jot it downLast week I had one of those aha moments, the kind that’s hard to admit because it is so obvious. The kind that the young these days call a brain fart.

It happened while I was driving around doing my daily work, fitness, errands and chores. A typical day until I actually noted and listened to that little voice in my head that kept whispering like a mantra of sorts.

“I can’t write right now. My computer is at home.”

It became painfully obvious that I’ve been using this as my excuse to NOT get my writing done. Throughout every day, and I mean every day, I have a few minutes here and there that I could be jotting ideas down. Heck, many of my “great” ideas come while I’m driving and my subconscious is diverted. It’s the equivalent to other people singing in the shower and the idea bulb suddenly lighting up in the mind like a movie set.

The thought can be so strong that it makes you rush naked and dripping out of the shower to write it down before it slips away down the drain along with your soaped up water.


Did I say you rush to write it down? On what?

Do you risk dripping water on your computer? Maybe you grab a pen and write that brilliant thought down on good old-fashioned PAPER?

Aha! I  could do that in my vehicle.

I could stop at the curb, pull out pen and paper and jot my ideas down. Easy peasy and as obvious as a pimple on one’s nose.

Joe’s post this week If Writers Had Drill Sergeants was meant to be if you believe in Karma. Imagine what I can accomplish in a 45 minute burst with my ideas already written down and saved on paper, real paper, and not buried back in my subconscious. My pages could be pounded out so fast and furious that I’d burn my fingertips from the keyboard friction. I’d feel so euphoric that I would be Battling the Monster; writers and mental health like in Paula’s last post and I’d be cured of depression and self-doubts, and, and, and….

Can all this be because of pen and paper and simply saving my ideas? Intuitively I feel like a weight has been lifted and unhealthy ties severed between myself and having to have my computer handy in order to write at all. I don’t need to isolate myself in my office.

Also, I don’t need to take my computer everywhere with me, and find an outlet, and WiFi.

I could even go away for a weekend without it! My computer doesn’t rule all.

When I outline a novel idea I do it on a big roll of children’s drawing paper from Ikea. I use pencil. I draw circles and lines and write on the sides. I put in my timelines and dates and use different colors. I drink coffee and pace the floor. I walk outside to clear my head. I have FUN and it’s always with good old paper and pen ( or pencils).

It’s after this initial burst of creativity that I start to rely on the computer. I organize my chapters and research and character development using Scrivener. It’s a great tool and I love using it. I could also make Scrivener work for me when I’m not home and the ideas rolling around in my head start to surface. It’s easy to print out the last chapter I’m on, or a scene I’m fiddling with, or even the character development folder. I could take paper with me. I could jot stuff down on it. I could let my imagination go wild.

Then when I take those ideas and enter them into the computer it’s almost like the second draft. At this point Joe’s Drill Sergeant can take over.

Do other writers out there feel completely reliant on their computers to get any and all of their writing done? I think this is a mindset that many of us have fallen into.

I’m going to let go of my computer umbilical cord for a few minutes here and there every day and get back to keeping a notebook with me. And a pen. I know my creativity flows all day. I will jot it all down.

I will write on paper.


Productivity: I’m at the midpoint of my third short story. I will print it out and take my pen and some more paper with me from the house. I will let you know next week how it works for me.

Motivation:  I’m following The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is on my bedside table along with Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness.

Happy Moments:

  • walking on the powdery snow-like beaches around Tampa Bay, Florida last week with my hubby and friends.
  • the heat in the sun in Florida
  • visiting the Chihuly Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida
  • my daughter dropping by with a list of recipes for us to bake for Christmas goodies. She has great taste.


Perspective Photos:


chihuly glass









chihuly boat









Happy writing!



From writer to pack-rat

Photo credit: Moving-MINI-Pepper-White

Photo credit: Custom Mini-Shop

Helga’s Post #78: I have been rather occupied this past week. Not with writing, which would have been my preference, but something else entirely. So this post is more like a status report than insights or reflections on writing.

It’s official: we are moving. Not immediately, but we decided after twenty-five years in the same house it’s time for a change. Two people don’t need a four-bedroom, plus den, plus family room house. Really. Sure it was nice to have overseas friends visiting who loved a vacation in Vancouver. Or have granddaughter Emma live with us for a year when she was in Grade Four. Or parents from Vienna who liked to ‘camp out’ with us for sometimes six or more weeks at a time because after all, their wayward daughter left her parental home decades ago and they had to make up for those countless daughterless years.

So here we are, organizing our move ahead of moving day. We won’t even know where we’ll move to, but we do know this: it will be a place much smaller, where not even half of our stuff will fit in. Can you imagine the stuff that somehow makes it into your house over a quarter of a century? We, like most people I guess, did not throw out or otherwise dispose of a piece of something every time we bought a new piece of something. Oh yes, there were countless times when I bought a new piece of clothing and looked for an older piece I already had to exchange it with. I would turn the old piece around, touch the fabric, try it on only to find there is no way on earth that the zipper would close, and after much soul-searching put the old piece back in the closet rationalizing, oh well, I’ll lose weight again and then it’ll be useful.

Ditto with kitchen stuff. And towels. And blankets. And – here comes the hard part – books. What to do with towers and towers of books which you have read in the past? And manuscript drafts # 1, 2, and 3, of your first or second or third novel, filed in binders, printed on single page, Courier Font 12? And not to forget piles upon piles of critique notes of said old manuscripts, lovingly prepared by my five writer colleagues Joe, Karalee, Paula and Silk (do note the alphabetical order, please).

Hard decisions indeed. This week we did four trips to the Salvation Army, the car loaded to the brim with stuff ‘free to good home’. It feels definitely liberating when these good folks, volunteers mainly, smile and accept old skis, boots, baskets, canning jars galore, dog kennels, Christmas lights and books, yes the afore-mentioned towers of books. Bless their heart. Sally Ann will be my charity of choice comes donation time.

Then there is the camping equipment and fly-fishing gear. More memories, more nostalgia. We remember trips to Stein Valley and the Chilcotin and so many others, as far back as twenty years. All with our two Black Lab companions, and later, when Sofie passed away, only with the younger Tuva. I felt a stab of pain when I wiped the dog kennels and found some soft black hair on the sponge.

And we haven’t even gotten to all the stuff we brought back from our three-year stint to Indonesia and S.E. Asia. Now there’s a collector’s paradise. How we used to love every single hand-carved re-claimed teak piece! The dowry-chest, the baskets, the Lombok pottery, the animal carvings and hand-woven textiles. But like everything else, tastes change and we find that other than memories, we no longer have much use for the stuff.

Yes, I admit we were pack-rats. Not quite hoarders, but at least collectors. And now it’s pay-back time.

But who has the heart to throw out reams of photo albums from half a century ago? Even if we have faithfully scanned onto the Mac every black and white photo from our childhood, every single one of the kids, grand-child, pets – especially photos of pets – and thousands upon thousands of tourist snapshots from vacations long past, and every flower in our garden that made it through twenty-five winters. But decision is made: we will view our photos on screen from now on. No more sticky-fingers on printed pics, and definitely no more watching slides.

Interesting how technology has made our lives so much easier. Books online, ditto with photos, and music too. Thousands of CD’s cluttering shelves are all stored now on one tiny device. We have come to accept that nostalgia has been relegated to the backseat , making room for high-tech.

Still, challenges remain that technology is unable to resolve. Decisions have to be made. Which memento is worthy of hanging on to, which birthday cards to keep, and which of the endless other paraphernalia will escape the recycling box or garbage bin. But wait: perhaps there is a story idea buried in some of this stuff straining to come out? As I thumb through old cards and letters, ideas start to form. What if…. You never know.

Here’s another tough decision to make: My 30-year collection of Gourmet magazines, neatly filed in 30 organizers, starting in 1974 until it closed down. Thirty years of recipes, travel articles, how-to advice, all with gorgeous pictures. I owe my passion for cooking entirely to that magazine. So the jury is still out on those 360 beautiful issues.

But I have hung on to a handful of my favorite books. An easy choice. The Little Drummer Girl. Catch-22. A few classics. My autographed copies of friend and best-selling author Sean Slater. My how-to-write fiction books and a few other non-fiction titles.

Today I am going through my rather large collection of shoes. And then on to shredding old files and bank statements dating back to pre-millennium.

Which books would you hold on to if you had to move and trim down your library? Or, if you had to choose between books and shoes, what would it be?