Why I Write on Paper

I don’t think it’s any surprise that I’m a tech geek. I work with computers, play video games, walk around with my tablet all of the time and read e-books more than physical ones. I use my computer and tablet to write almost everything.

Almost, is what I said. Because the first draft of almost everything I write ends up in a composition notebook first. I also keep a bullet journal in an honest to goodness moleskine notebook. There are a ton of reasons why I do this, and you should consider it too. Here’s why.

It helps me remember things. I know there is research for this, but hell of I could find it. Somehow, though, if I’m making a list of things I need to do, I find that I will remember things I’d forgotten, but need to add to the list.

I also find it easier to brainstorm for a story on paper. I need to write random ideas that might not be in any order yet, and plot points that will have multiple repercussions. Think mind mapping. I know that there is software that allows you to mind map on screen, but I have yet to find one that does it for me.

It keeps a solid record of something. Like my memories of a day. If something’s on a screen, I might go back later and ‘fix’. It’s the editor in me. But there have been days that I had a deep, raw, emotional reaction to something. I was thankful to have the reaction to those events on paper, unchanged. Also, I tend to treat my bullet journal as a scrap book. I paste pictures, movie tickets, and other paper mementos into the pages. This makes my journals precious to me.

I can doodle and sketch, and if you don’t think that’s important to the creative process, I don’t know what you’re doing with yourself.

It’s easier to take with me. Yes, I do love my tablet, but it’s not as comfortable to write on it as it is to write in a notebook. I don’t know why, I’ve just never gotten to a point where I’m comfortable typing on one of those screens. Maybe I’m too old to ever really like that. Maybe my nails are too long.

Finally, it makes writing a physical experience. Three’s something to be said for the soothing sound of clicking keys. But there’s also something to be said about being alone with the blank page, just you and a pen. The quiet scratching, the feel of ink flowing onto the paper. It’s a nearly spiritual experience for me.

I usually try to avoid talk like this, but I don’t think I’m the only writer who feels this way. When I write on paper, there are times when I feel like I’m not making the story up at all. It’s just flowing out of me, the words coming in just the right order, as though I’m seeing the story happening and just dictating it. I have never experienced this on a screen.

I do keep a lot of things on my screens. My flylady control journal is kept on Evernote, and I actually don’t keep my to do lists in my bullet journal, because the Todoist app makes more sense for my lifestyle. But when it needs to matter, when it needs to be my voice, my life, my blood, it needs to be on paper first.


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