A Writer’s Rant: Committed to the Pen Game

When I brainstorm, it’s as if I’m about to birth a child or something, and I get very particular about my creative tools. I need a clear area, five bright lights, a post it pad, about three notebooks (seriously) and two ballpoint pens. While this makes it harder and harder to shimmy away from my “bag lady” persona. I find that reverting to the pre-technology era leads to more organic (okay, just better) ideas.

I remember when I lost my planner in May of 2012, I was a wreck. For the two years preceding that, I’d been scribing my life to the minute – it was technically an appointment book – and scribbling ideas in the margins. Every time I started a new journalism class or internship, I was gifted a reporter’s notepad. I must have gone through at least seven of those. My life changed when I received a blank, line-less moleskin for graduation. Let me tell you, I was ecstatic. From then on, I decided that I would carry it everywhere, so that if I had a sporadic thought, a pitch, a life goal, a travel plan, some commentary or an affirmation, I would never forget it.

That started a love affair of sorts. There’s gold in that book. And it’s not so much a diary that’s a grand secret. I’m not hiding anything in that book. It’s just what is and what I want. But the family grew and somehow I got my hands on a brand new moleskin. This one, I decided, would be solely for pitches to magazines and online publications, so I could organize my thoughts and see the empty, lined pages, inspired to fill them with profitable prose. More thoughts spilled out the faster I wrote. Enter notebook number three for my musings and ramblings, like this one. Once my fingers cramp up to their peaks and all my inky thoughts have clothed naked pages, I can breathe out a breath of satisfaction and close the book, knowing I can open and revisit the moment anytime I want.

You can’t do that with an iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy or any mobile illuminated screen. People often suggest using the notepad feature on my iPhone for this kind of stuff. I can’t, I just can’t. More than likely I’d have to abbreviate every-damn-thing. My mind moves like a bullet and unfortunately I type (on a touch screen) much slower than I write. The message would end up either butchered or partially forgotten. Also, it would mean I’m unconcerned with what happens to my work and the goings-on of my mind. Putting my trust in a battery-powered device is like sloppily tossing my eggs in one basket. Sure, there’s the convenience factor, but then there are the what ifs. I am SUCH a what if person. What if the screen cracks, the touch screen disengages, the battery dies, the whole crap gets stolen? Then what? It’d be gone and I wouldn't remember what I wrote because I didn't actually write it. All my creative labor would've been for naught. Writing has the power to commit words to memory and turn dreams and desires into destiny. A tablet can’t promise me that. Digital characters get lost in the sea of text messages, emails and bombarding GroupMe debates, none of which help me create. Just blind responding.

Like some meme said, “If you ever wanna know what a creative person’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open. All. The Time.” No truer words spoken. Tabs, spiral notebooks, post-its, napkins, receipts, moleskins and the back of my hands. All in use at the same damn time. And yes, I wrote all of this with my trusty ballpoint pen.

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