My last few posts have concentrated on the different effects of various mediums on readers, their output if you like, but, triggered by this eloquent article championing pen on paper featured recently in The New York Review of Books, I’ve been thinking about the effects of various methods of input on writers and their work.
And how systematic terms like ‘input’ and ‘output’ manage to constantly leak into my writing. Bah.
Aside from blogging and more technical project text, I use a pen and several different notebooks in my practice. One hard-wearing pocket notebook for ideas and notes related to projects I’m working on, as well as random thoughts and interesting words and quotes. One tiny notebook for scribbled bits of more creative writing, normally segments of poetic pieces, which are then edited and given form on a computer later, sometimes channeled longhand through paper first. One large notebook for lengthier and more fluid prose writing.
Keeping these separate is an attempt to conjure up the different frames of mind necessary for each style of writing, although inevitably they cross over, as is the nature of human thoughts. Handwriting (if you could call mine that, I exclusively use block capitals for EVERYTHING), instead of typing, is also conducive in my case to articulate ideas quicker and smoother than via a computer intermediary – from mind, to pen, to page. I intentionally left out hand, as a pen seems almost like a natural extension of it, rather than fragmented, systematic typing – even more so as I use only two or three fingers feverishly.
Using pen and paper to create, a screen to edit, then various forms of file sharing (E-mailing text to myself and others, Dropbox) to archive and disseminate material seems to me like a natural evolution of ideas and consecutive output. Like a snowball rolling downhill, accumulating stray threads of grass and loose stones, gradually gaining form and weight, then finally smashing into a multitude of pieces, spreading its essence – if you’ll forgive my poncy analogy.