Does anyone use pen and paper anymore? In this digital age, it seems like an odd question. I remember one editor telling me that she is no longer able to spell words unless she types them out. And we've all discussed how sloppy our penmanship has become since we don't put pen to paper as often. With people doing everything digitally, is writing by hand outmoded in the creative writing world?

I think not, at least, not for me. While all of my blog posts are composed in word-processing software, at times I feel more creative when I'm writing things out in a notebook. When I started writing creatively, I did it by hand, so it's my standby when all else fails. And I often use pen and paper for the following:
  • brainstorming
  • private journal entries
  • poems
  • outlines
  • flash fiction
  • note taking/research (I seem to recall things better when I write things out by hand)
When I feel intimidated by the blank word-processing document, I write out a paragraph or two by hand. No, it's not “green,” but it works for me. Now, before you dismiss the old “pen and paper” method, consider trying it for the following reasons:

1. Mind mapping. While there are programs that make mind mapping easier on the computer, it still seems to work best with pen and paper. This allows you to truly customize your lines and boxes in a way that best suits your ideas.

2. Shift in style. The intimacy of pen and paper may be just what you need to kick your creative edge into high gear. Or you may find your writing seems more forced. This is a chance to experiment.

3. More rewriting. Some may not consider this a good thing, but as you type up something you've written by hand, you may already begin to edit and revise. So your first typed draft is a second draft with some improvements already made. Working directly from the computer tends to make people somewhat lazy about this.

4. Portability. Pen and paper are still more portable than laptops and lighter and less obtrusive than electronic tablets. So with a notebook and pen, you can write anywhere.

5. Fewer distractions. Take your notebook away from your computer. That means no e-mail, no Facebook, no Twitter, etc. It's just you, the pen, and the page.

Change can enhance creativity, especially when you find yourself blocked. If you just type your work, pick out a notebook that suits your project (for me, that's fun as well) and try writing your work out by hand. Or if you write by hand first, try composing str.