Thursday Writing Prompt No. 14

Kayaks lined up at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. I took the photo with my Nikon Coolpix and used a Topaz filter to turn it into a cartoon-like image. The kayaks were really this brightly colored.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is going to focus on the kinds of tools that you use when you write. Are you a minimalist who takes pen and paper everywhere so you can jot down ideas when they come to you? Do you enjoy the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil? Or are you a high-tech writer who prefers to caress the keys on a laptop? Or do you prefer the smaller format of the smartphone for your writing?

No matter how you’re comfortable writing, I’m going to ask you to use something different from what you normally would use when you write. The point of this exercise is to draw your attention to the process of writing instead of the content of your words. Many writers say that they can’t write unless they have their computer or favorite pen, or are sitting with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Balderdash! If you’re a writer, you can always write. Yes, it’s more comfortable to use the tools you are familiar with, but it’s not necessary.

Here’s what I mean: I like to type because I can get my thoughts down much faster than if I write. I think faster than I can write, so I start scribbling. My handwriting then gets so messy that sometimes even I can’t read what I wrote. But that speed isn’t always a good thing when you’re writing because sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and let the writing flow instead of trying to shove it onto the page as quickly as possible. If I use pen and paper, and deliberately slow my writing, I find that I start to focus more on what I’m doing and not so much on what I will be doing next.  I’m not really sure how this helps me as a writer, but it calms me and lets me play with the words because I’m not in a rush.

I want you to explore different tools and find out what effects they have on your writing process. If you’re a confirmed paper-and-pencil kind of writer, try using your computer for some of your writing. Even laptops aren’t as portable as paper, so you’ll tend to find a place to sit for your work, and that locale is going to affect you somehow. If that’s so, was it a positive influence on your work, or a distraction? You can learn a lot about what kind of environment is comfortable for your muse, and what you need to avoid to be happy as a writer.

Paper and pencil is also good because it’s not wifi-enabled. You don’t have the distractions of checking your e-mail or reading the news headlines or watching videos. You are your own entertainment when you have a pad of paper — so either write, or draw, or make notes for that novel.

Mixing up your writing styles once in awhile is good for adding variety to your writing life and keeping your routine from getting stale. I spend so much time in front of my computer, sometimes I literally can’t sit down anymore because my legs ache from the pressure of the chair. But with paper and pen, I can write standing up. So do yourself a favor, and get out of your chair once in awhile and stretch or take a walk. Carry a pen and notepad for when the inspiration strikes.