I wrote the first draft of this blog post longhand while sitting on a beach in Antigua, under an umbrella made of palm fronds. The ocean in this part of the world is crystal clear and a perfect aquamarine in color. Huh, maybe that’s where the color got its name. Huh.
This is our annual spring sojourn to a beautiful place for a week of uninterrupted relaxation. With tax season in the rear view mirror, Joy can finally breathe again. And it doesn’t hurt that her birthday is tomorrow. As I jot these words, it occurs to me that I’ve vamped my way in to my topic for this week’s blog post: The value of putting pen to paper–literally.
I’ve discussed this on my YouTube channel. When I find myself blocked–or if the idea I need refuses to show itself, I return to manual methods. There’s something about the tactile connection with the paper that helps words and images to break free.
I have it on very good authority that the great Civil War historian Shelby Foote wrote all of his history books using a 19th century dip pen and ink. He said it kept him connected to the period he was writing about.
At least 15% of the content of each of my books begin as handwritten first drafts. Sometimes, it’s not because the thoughts won’t come, but rather because a laptop is inconvenient. Say, for example, when I’m sitting on a beach in Antigua.
I don’t keep a pen and paper near my bed at night, and I don’t carry paper with me on routine outings such as shopping, or going out on a dinner date–unless I’m deep in the middle of a project and I know that the
writing demons will probably not let go of me. But I always have my writing tools with me when I go someplace that is likely to inspire me.
Just as an aside, if I had been drafting a section of a book by hand, I would have included a slug line at the top that would show the date and my location at the time I was drafting it. That has no practical rationale in real time, but now that I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades, it’s nice to remember where I was, back in the day.
So, what say you, TKZers? Are a pen and paper important tools in your box?