Paper or Plastic? - A Piece Of My Mind
If you don't want to be replaced by a computer, don't act like one.
~ Arno Penzias.
If you think you are worth what you know, you are very wrong. Your knowledge today does not have much value beyond a couple of years. Your value is what you can learn and how easily you can adapt to the changes this profession brings so often. ~ Jose M. Aguilar
When you’re in a workshop setting, people DO ask the strangest questions. A young man bluntly asked “How do you write?”
He looked confused when I asked him to explain what he meant. He said “Well do you lug a laptop around wherever you go when you have an idea?”
I smiled “I don’t lug my laptop around!” I hate to say it, my laptop is an older model computer that still works great...BUT I’m not lugging it around with me daily...large trips, yes.
“You don’t?” he questioned
“NOPE", I said, “I use a manual system.”
“A manual system?” came the outcry from the room.
I pulled out my knapsack and pulled out a spiral notebook. “I usually start with pen and paper and work my way to a computer screen.”
“Doesn’t that slow down your creativeness?”
I said “No. It increases it! If you use a plastic media to start with, you are at the mercy of the machine and its battery. Using my iPad, I did not have it plugged in and the machine shut off. Yes, I did not lose any information. A notebook and a pen don’t need a battery change and does not shut off.”
The workshop class seemed amazed at that statement.
Let's break it down here. Most of us have ideas from our idea file or a simple premise you wrote down on a yellow sticky note or scrap piece of paper.
From that idea, you could crate an outline your idea or you could wing it from this basic idea. To me, an outline is a road map. From there I can add more details and to add to my plot. You can use an outline to help out in your character research or location. Winging it is like flying by the seat of your pants with paper. You have no direction when you wing it, but you can free write, amend it and develop the idea without a net. Either way works as long as you finish your story or novel.
The young man spoke up again. “You could still do this on the computer, couldn’t you?”
“Sure you can.” I retorted. He said, “However, after you are done, don't you have to make a file? Create a file somewhere if you want to keep it?” I changed directions as I said, “Using a pen and paper for me is easier. That paper is a great sounding board. It is easier to create. It’s easier to scratch out the idea when you want to change it.”
The young man smiled. “There is always a delete button on a computer!”
“You are right. However when you scratch out the idea, you can still re-read through it. Some of my best ideas have been scratched out to start with.”
You can carry a spiral notebook in anyplace and anywhere making it leisurely since most laptops weigh about five or more pounds, I know my big older laptop weighed ten pounds and I still wheel it in its carry bag.
The better choice these days is the iPad. Nowadays, the PC may weigh less (like the surface pro and its price tag)...and I do have one, but then I have to sync it to a computer or email myself after I write in the notes.
I told this workshop. When I sat in my doctor's waiting room, you wait…you can be on time and you still wait...could be five minutes or an hour. Most medical doctor’s waiting rooms move at a slow and tedious place. Nevertheless, once you turn on a computer, that's when the nurse calls you back to see the doctor. I use a spiral pad, so if the nurse calls me back. I go. No save time needed or shutdown time.
You know, after the nurse calls you back, we all still wait in the doctor small exam room again. As I wait, my ideas still flowing on the paper. I was told by one of my doctor's Nurse “Please don’t turn on the PC, messes up the equipment.”
I am not the only one who uses a notebook pad to write in. Author Stephen King wrote parts of The Green Mile, that six part novella, on a pad during a rain delay at a baseball game. Jackie Collins (the author of Chances and Hollywood Wives) still writes from a yellow legal pad and has assistants type up her text, so she can edit it. The British novelist Jeffrey Archer used to write some his novels handwritten in between breaks as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lincolnshire constituency. I also heard a story that Erle Stanley Gardener, author of the Perry Mason books, wrote some of his Perry Mason novels in long hand on yellow legal pads, before he bought a Dictaphone, an early version of a tape machine.
Many may disagree with me on my choice of writing tools...but to them I say this: do you want Paper or plastic?
Postscript, some of the readership (I am grateful to all of you) who follow this column know February is the month of my birthday. Thank you all for asking when it is...HOWEVER, I am not telling you the date. If you do yahoo message or email me, just wish me a good day whether it is birthday or not.
Until next time, reach for the stars
Columnist: Bennet Pomerantz has covered the Audio medium for the last 20 years. He has syndicated newspaper columns, AUDIOWORLD and "Movies of Your Mind", in Affaire De Coeur Magazine. In which he showcase his vast and diverse knowledge of the spoken word medium.
He is also known as a media review critic (books, music, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs) in his weekly syndicated newspaper column "A Piece of the Page". He also is a ranked media reviewer for Amazon.com. http://www.facebook.com/bennet.pomerantz1 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org