Writers! Back Away From the Keyboard

post-it writing I love writing, I love technology, and I absolutely adore combining those two things in as many different ways as I can. Even this thing we all do around here– Blogging, I believe it’s called– is a form of combining writing with technology. Long gone are the days of ‘putting pen to paper’ as they say.

However, as attached as I am to my Scrivener app and my iPhone, there are days when the constriction of my 15″ laptop screen feels too constricting. I need to work with something huge– Something vast! Something that I can actually pick up and move rather than click and drag.

Today was one of those days, and so I decided to get crafty. I cut a huge piece of brown paper off a roll that had been in the storage room for who knows how long. Then I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor, the paper unrolled in front of me, and I covered it with a million (..exaggeration) post-its. On each post-it was something from my novel– a scene, a character description, the dynamic of a certain group of people– and I arranged them all in a way that made some sense.

Tomorrow, I expect I will return to the computer world that I love so dearly. (Actually, as you can obviously see, I’ve returned this evening.) But I also plan on continuing with my little scrap project, and I’m sure that it will help in the many writing/editing days that I have to come. If nothing else, it will become a nice wall-hanging.

I’m curious though, how many of you take writing outside the computer and how often?


ROW80 Check-in…………

I’ve been doing well with my goals since I re-organized them this past Sunday! I’ve been working a bit more full-time, but with my new, prioritized list, I’m happier over-all with my accomplishments. Every little bit of time that I’m able to put towards my writing counts. 


23 thoughts on “Writers! Back Away From the Keyboard

  1. I have a giant notebook that I generally do character bios and outlines in. Many a scene/chapter have had their beginnings in that notebook as well. Sometimes it feels better to write an idea out instead of typing, for me anyway.

    Whatever gets you writing can only be a good thing!

    MASS EFFECT 3!!!!!!!! Did I just type that? Bad hands!

    • Ahahaha! That was awesome.
      But yes, I agree about the hand-written biographies. I used to do that, but then I bought Scrivener which is an amazing writing program and allows you to do all that pre-writing in the same document that your manuscript is in. It’s super convenient, and I love the idea of it– but I think I’m going to be making my way back to the notebook.

      ((March 6th!!))

  2. I’ve read so many posts today about handwriting. I haven’t handwritten a story since I was in high school. Perhaps I need to try it again and maybe I’ll be a little less distracted for it.

  3. I used to write in those notebooks with perforated pages, I still have some in each bookcase and in several other spots. I never could stand those squiggly little paper pieces you’re left with when tearing out pages from a spiral bound notebook.
    Since I got the laptop and became portable though, I’ve gradually moved all of my writing to it. I can keep so many documents with details so close at hand, and with type so clear and easy to read…it far outperforms my pitiful little pen!
    I really like your idea of the big paper and post-it notes. Interesting way to visualize the work!

  4. I take myself away from the computer pretty often. I need physical interaction with my story to arrange it all in my head. Usually I jot down notes (reminders) about where this next scene needs to go, but sometimes I need to actually lay it out in front of me.

    I make so many notes that I have a notebook a month. I put a label on the front of it with the start date/month and then jot down which stories have notes in the book. If it’s an intense series arc covering several books, I have one notebook for it.

    At the end of the year I recycle those notebooks that are completely done, and transcribe other notes into a scrivener file. It definitely helps on those days when the words just won’t come. I feel productive then. 🙂

    Post its, index cards, you name it. If I’m stuck, I will do anything to get it all organized again in my head.

    Congrats on a great start to your week!

    Keep Writing!

    • That sounds so great and organized! I’m really impressed. And the not-so-productive days become productive with transcribing… I’m liking this idea more and more! Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

      • LOL! I guess I should tell you how it came to be that way, then…

        I have a gazillion notebooks of different size, shape, and paperweight. Kind of an obsession really. Some women buy shoes or chocolate…I get notebooks. 😀

        Anyway…there were so many I was writing in at any given moment that I lost track of which one had what novella or novel information in it. It became pretty frustrating, and I was wasting more and more time trying to find the “right notebook” with the perfect dialogue bit I’d written at lunch for the evil day job, that my husband threatened to burn all of them if I didn’t figure out how to fix the notebook issue. (I had three or four notebooks in my purse or backpack at a time!)

        And that’s how my notebook organization came to be. Sometimes I still misplace notes, but it’s not like it used to be.



      • Less expensive than shoes, healthier than chocolates! I think it’s the perfect obsession. 🙂 so you write in lined notebooks or blank pages? I know it’s a silly question, but I’m curious. Haha. I prefer the blank pages, myself.

  5. Scrivener, huh? Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out. As for the brown paper, I’m not sure that’s for me. I’m a creature of habit. If I’m going to be productive, I need to be at my own desk, at my own computer, wearing my writing clothes, and with my favorite mug filled with steaming coffee on a coaster in easy reach of my right hand. (I don’t always drink it, but it has to be there!)

    • Yes, Scrivener. It has become my absolute favorite computer program. Really nifty organization and character profiles. You should definitely check it out. They have a free 30 day trial I believe. And many a cup of coffee has gone cold sitting beside me on my writing desk. I know exactly what you mean!

  6. I love Scrivner! I use it ALOT.. But I too have been thinking about breaking out of the old screen and getting my hand to paper. I was leaning towards maybe writing some note cards with different scene Ideas that come to me! Who knows where this could take us!:)

      • Thank you so much for the link! I clicked on it and got stuck on her page reading post after post. She’s a great resource, and I think I’m going to go try that index card thing right now. Thanks again!

    • Yes! Notecards are awesome. I love the cork board view on Scrivener, but I’m beginning to think that the computer is giving me headaches! I spend so much of my day staring at a screen. Hopefully good things come out of a break from it!

      • I know what you mean! Sometimes when I write for too long my eyes start to get those strained red lines in them. Not so when I’m writing free hand:) I used the cork board view to its full potential for the first time the other day, and I think whats missing for me is the ability to see them all laid out, switching them, without having to scroll up and down, and using colors so you can see theme and such. I cant wait till my actual note cards get to work and I can tape them all over my tiny pizza shaped room! (At work..my normal bedroom is very rectangular in nature:p)

  7. I use pen and paper very sparingly. I never really learned how to hold a pen or pencil correctly so my hand cramps up after only a few minutes of writing, and whatever I get down is almost illegible. That said, there are times when a computer just doesn’t work.

    As far as character backgrounds and ideas and things, I use the Notes app on my iPod. I also have an app called SimpleMind, which is a mind mapping utility (think an iPod-sized version of your post-it idea). I especially like it because I can organize thoughts by color, so characters can all be red bubble and places can be green and concepts yellow etc. There’s a free version and a paid version I think (paid version gives way more customization) and I’d totally consider buying it if I wasn’t dirt poor.

    As for Scrivener… bad experiences. I took part in the beta of Scrivener for Windows and I started a project to get a feel for the program. Then I got stupid and didn’t copy what I had written to another source, and even though the program said it saved, it didn’t. My project was just gone forever for no apparent reason. Not entirely the program’s fault (it was a beta after all and I really should have backed it up) but it was still frustrating that it couldn’t get a feature as fundamental as “save” right. I might give it another go sometime as I did like the organization it provided, but honestly I didn’t find anything I can’t do with Word and Notes. Maybe I’ll try the trial and see how far the program has come since my experience with it.

    I do hear they’re working on an iPod app though, which has the potential to completely change my mind on that. So far there’s no good word processor for anything but the iPad (not that I’m aware of anyway) but Scrivener can easily change that.

    Fun fact: Some of my best short stories were written on a typewriter. There’s something about typewriters that bring a sense of nostalgia and just plain feeling like a writer that you can’t get with a laptop. The downside is that whatever you type on a typewriter has to be re-typed onto the laptop later if you plan on doing anything with it.

    • Ah, I’d be lost if my scrivener files up and disappeared! But I believe a lot has changed since you tried it, as I haven’t had any problems. My favorite feature is the ability to create character/place sheets. When I’m working on a scene with a particular character, I keep their sheet floating on the side, complete with a reference photo. It really helps with description, etc. I know there are ways to do this without scrivener, but the program allows me to keep it all in one place.

      Of course, I also like splitting the project up by chapter/ scene while still having the option of working on it as a whole.

      Look at this, I’m practically trying to sell you the product! Haha. But an iPod app? Man, if they came out with that, I’d be so excited. I do use the index card app on my iPad which syncs with Scrivener, but I would love if they had an iPad app of their own.

      • I don’t know if I ever got to use character or place sheets.

        It was hard to get used to splitting by chapter. For someone who uses outlines it would probably be a dream come true, but I don’t work from outlines so it was weird. It is convenient to be able to jump right back to where I left off instead of having to scroll through Word (or use the find feature). It was very neat and very organized and that was pretty cool.

        I actually might have some money coming in so I definitely think I’ll try the free trial.

  8. I tried your idea with the storyboarding when I was in Iraq thinking that it would be a good way for me to organize the story I was working on. I don’t think that it worked too well then, but I liked the fact that you mentioned you would be doing it again. I might have to try it once I finish my story, because I’ll get to see where some chapters and such need to be placed at that point in time. I love this blog because I always walk away with such great ideas! Thanks!

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