Paper & Pen & Technology

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Paper & Pen & Technology

There’s a myth out there that if you have just the right technology, you will be able to create better art.

If I asked you today if you believed the myth, you’d probably say you didn’t. But, this myth is insidious. It is deeply rooted in the culture of dissatisfaction that is fanned by advertising, consumerism, peer pressure, and trying to keep up with the Joneses. We see others with technology and think, sometimes unconsciously, that we would be better writers and artists if we just had that up-to-date tool.

We have to remind ourselves that being creative is NOT about the tool, but about what we put into it. It’s about your life experiences, what fiction you read and art you look at, what questions you want to explore, and your vision of the world, either reality or what’s deep inside your head.

I know this because I’ve fallen prey, at times, to wanting the latest and greatest. I’ve purchased half a dozen computers in my lifetime, starting with an IBM PC in the late 1980s. Today I work on a stalwart MacBook Air that has held up since 2011 and isn’t showing any signs of breaking down yet.

And, I’ve used many kinds of writing software, from XyWrite to Word Perfect to Word to Pages to Scrivener to OmmWriter. I use Word for most of my professional work but I turn to Scrivener when I’m trying to organize sections of a project — like website copy or a publication. Scrivener is also my go-to software for writing novels, as is OmmWriter, a distraction-free word processor. The good news is that these tools are relatively inexpensive and they probably will last a long time if they meet your needs.

But, there’s nothing like using pen and paper to explore your creativity. I have kept two kinds of journals in my life: the personal one and the creative one. Years ago, I discovered that a 5″ x 8.25″ black book like a Moleskine is the best size for me to write my personal thoughts. Black fabric-covered sketchbooks, either small like the Moleskine or a full 8 1/2″ x 11″ are my go-to for art journaling.

I also use pen and paper if I’m stuck on a project — and that’s usually whatever pen I have with me and paper that doesn’t need to be saved after I’ve reached my solution. I may turn to mind mapping software to organize thoughts about sections of a project if I have to share it with others.

The key to all of this is to not let the lack of the latest and greatest hold you back. You may like a certain pen and paper and computer and software, but it shouldn’t stop you from grabbing whatever you have on hand to work out what you want to say and how you want to say it.

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