So, during a trip to Michael’s to get craft supplies for my daughter’s social studies project, I saw it—the answer to my prayers.
The sketch book in the sales bin.
The steampunky cover drew me to it but what I found inside was just what my tired brain needed—blank space and lots of it. Fresh, virgin paper. No visual information staring back at me, nothing to click to distract me from allowing my imagination to run wild.
Notice the papers sticking out.
Even a mystical notebook can't be
everywhere at once
I’ve been writing down my story ideas for my newest WIP and plotting in it ever since. I’ve discovered something about myself during this. I need to hand write during my creative process, at least some of the time. Once I have a clear pathway, then the computer is fine.
Turns out others have actually studied this. In “Digitizing Literacy: Reflections on the Haptics of Writing” by Anne Mangen and Jean-Luc Velay (DOI: 10.5772/8710), the authors state, “Typically, handwriting is…a slower process than typewriting. …the visual attention of the writer is strongly concentrated during handwriting; the attentional focus of the writer is dedicated to the tip of the pen, while during typewriting the visual attention is detached from… the process of hitting the keys. Hence, typewriting is divided into two distinct…spaces: the motor space (e.g., the keyboard), and the visual space (e.g., the screen).”
What does this mean to a visual person like me? That I want to savor the creative process and slow it down by writing my ideas in a notebook but when I want to get to work before I forget what I was thinking, I grab my computer. Each has its uses. The added bonus is that shaking things up by going back and forth between the two processes keeps my brain percolating new ideas.
The authors also address my ennui with technology. “Writing has always been dependent on technology; indeed, in a very literal sense, writing is technology, for… without the crayon or the stylus or the laptop, writing simply is not possible. From using clay tablets and animal skins via the medieval manuscript and the ancient papyrus roll, to the mechanization of writing with the printing press and the current digitization, writers have always had to handle physical devices and then [apply] these to some substrate. The outcome of the writing process has always relied on the skillful combination of technical/manual skill and intellectual/aesthetic aptitude.”
So, does this mean that the ancients sometimes threw down their papyrus roll and wished for the good old days of the chisel, hammer and cave wall so that they could get in touch with their creative roots?
What methods get your creative ideas flowing?