Weekly Musing: Kickin’ It Old School

I must confess, I prefer to draft all my writings with pen and paper. It’s old-fashion, perhaps even quaint to some, but I love it.

I am what I like to refer to as the ‘transitional generation’ of people who didn’t grow up with computers. Sure I knew some people who had personal computers and there were a scattering of them in the schools I attended, but widespread computer usage, didn’t really take off until I was in high school.

At home we had a typewriter. All my papers were typed up on it by my mom, until I finally took a keyboarding class before my senior year of high school. We went through 2 typewriters growing up. I only vaguely remember the first one. It wasn’t the bestial kind you see in old movies. This one was probably from the 70s going by the styling of it. Man was that thing heavy. Or I just don’t have any upper body strength; my muscles flex pretty hard picking up an 8 pound cat. Hunting and pecking on that thing hurt, too. I had to jam hard on the keys and heaven forbid I miss one entirely. My skinny little fingers would be shredded as they scraped past the keys. I didn’t like this thing.

Our next typewriter was fancy by our standards. It was electric! And it was light(er)! Hooray! It didn’t make the ding sound non-electric typewriters are famous for. No, instead it did the lovely electronic chirp sounds popularized in the 80s and early 90s. It was faster and easier to read which I imagine was nice for my mom.

Because I didn’t know how to type, I wrote everything out by hand. Some may feel that is time consuming and I guess it was. But I truly loved the challenge of composing a paper, I didn’t mind. I think it made me more careful in what I wrote initially. I only had one opportunity to revise before giving the final product to my mom to type up.

Once I got to college, though, I had more access and exposures to computers. Even when I was able to buy my first computer, some cheap, slow thing with a woefully inadequate hard drive, I still wrote everything out by hand. The few times I tried writing a paper completely from scratch on the computer produced some horrendous results for me. So, back to pen and paper for me and I haven’t stopped since.

With pen and paper I have more of a connection with the words. It truly feels like a more organic process to compose one’s thoughts onto paper first rather than on a computer. I can just let the ideas spill out. There’s no distraction from the squiggly red, green, or blue lines under misspelled words or grammar questions Word thinks it knows. I can ramble on knowing I can always adjust it later. And with pen and paper, I’m not tempted to distraction as I am on a computer.

It’s more portable. I can take a notebook and pen with me anywhere. No having to turn off all electronic devices while on a plane. Don’t have to worry about damaging the hard drive if I drop it although rain and mud are a concern. The biggest worry with doing it old school: running out of paper and pens. Biggest worries with a computer: computer crashing, viruses and worms, actually damaging the computer, not backing up, Wi-Fi connection (where’s the nearest coffee shop?), no power, being hacked, etc.

So that’s why I love drafting my stories on pen and paper. Oddly enough, I can edit and revise on a computer but only after printing out the draft and going through it with pen. I view the computer more as a storage container rather than a primary tool for my craft. Perhaps with time I will change my methods. Maybe when I get around to writing novels, I’ll find the computer more effective for that rough, crummy draft. Only time will tell.