Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Tools of the trade

I've been playing with different ways of getting the words out lately. With Rich away, I'm getting behind my typewriter a lot more to tap out letters to him and a couple of weeks ago I found myself craving the hands on approach to story telling. Specifically I wanted a mechanical pencil and the soft cardboard covers of my mini Moleskine notebooks.

There's something about this casual way of writing that feels so much more friendly and warm to me than the cold glare of a blank white screen and the hard keys beneath my fingertips. Don't get me wrong, when I'm in it, the furious staccato of the keys, the speed at which I can devour that white space... There is a definite thrill in that.

But to all things there is a season and maybe my current ideas and thoughts need to be held gently in the covers of a notebook.

A computer for me feels incredibly final - if I'm there then I know the story, the people, what's happening. Making an enormous change (cutting a character out, for example) on a 90,000 word typed manuscript feels like a Herculean task. But I do not think twice about scribbling out an idea in a notebook and replacing it with a new one. Notebooks feel like a safe practice space before stepping off into the more serious territory of the word document.

What I'm craving now is a bigger space though. My notebooks fit in the palm of my hand (I keep meaning to organise myself into the Midori that I bought to use as a diary and abandoned in favour of a return to my Filofax). They are tiny and ideal for jottings and ramblings, but I'm itching to go big. What I want, right now, is a big A3 sheet of paper, a pencil and the time to transfer those thoughts onto one sheet. I feel the need to see the story, as it stands, at a glance. To make the connections that I might otherwise have missed.

This is my plan for the rest of the week, to get some time with some paper and pencil and get writing, by hand. How do you write? I'm an incredibly nosey person and I love knowing about other people's process. Do you plan by hand? Do you plan at all?


  1. I have tried to us electronic tools for my daily writing but this summer, I returned to paper and pen and I am loving it. I use 3x5 cards for my daily lists and have started keeping them in a little file box too.

  2. I know this is an old post, but I decided to read your blog from the start! I like to write notes on paper, that then become notes in a computer, which are then printed out, scribbled all over and then the final writing is done on screen. Like you, I like to use a huge piece of paper to join up all the thoughts, ideally using lots of different coloured pens and arrows all over the place. It's a bit messy and a bit slow, but I generally feel a lot happier about it all that if I just try to get it all on screen from the start.