In her recent blog-post response to my 7-7-7 post, my online writer-friend Jen Luitwieler talks about my new “fancy fountain pen” which references some of our Twitter conversations (along with our friend, Andrea Cumbo at AndiLit.com) about the pros and cons of working longhand.
It’s true. I hand write my first drafts, both fiction and non. I make handwritten edits and revisions to my printed manuscripts. I even hand-write most of my blog posts before transcribing them into this digital format. (Fear not, good reader, I do NOT write out my Tweets and status updates. I live on the edge…)
There are a number of reasons I work with pen and paper, rather than writing directly into the computer. It’s the way my creative process works best, and if there were no other benefits, that alone would be enough. Beyond that, though, there is a simple reason: I always have a pen and paper with me. Wallet. Keys. iPhone. Small Molskine notebook. Pen. My minimum traveling load.
But there is another, major benefit. It came to me as I was researching and drafting my graduating seminar paper: the analog world of pen and paper frees me from the “always on” digital world.
In his book, The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry talks about the modern, anti-creative problem of digital “ping”. Ping is the tendency we have to be distracted by our email, Twitter feed, Facebook, and other online sources of information. All of these things combine to drain our time, our energy, and our creativity, and they are ever-present in this world of constant internet access.
There are technology-based ways to combat ping, and some people are simply able to will themselves to ignore all of the inbox indicators, ding-dong alerts, and chirps, but, for me, the most effective solution is to step away from the digital world and lose myself in writing the old-fashioned way.
To be free of ping…that’s an amazing reason to love my stacks of notebooks and my fancy fountain pen. 😉