Good Old Pen and Paper

I just started writing a few months ago and to give myself some major guidance, motivation, and ideas I attended the Travel Writer’s and Photographer’s Conference put on by the Book Passage Bookstore, a really great independent bookstore in the Bay Area. I was very intimidated by the whole thing as I had no experience and nothing published. I was in fact the youngest person there but I liked this conference a lot.

I took away a lot of good advice from the well-known travel authors, agents, and editors that attended but for now I am just going to talk about one piece of advice that has already had a great effect on my writing – use a pen and paper instead of the computer.

When I started writing a few months ago, I have to admit that one of the many reasons I was so excited to start writing was because I bought a brand new computer for myself. It was a major upgrade from the piece of junk I had for the past five years. The hard drive had this humming sound like an air-conditioner or as my college roommate said, “It sounds like it is on life support.” My new computer is lightweight, runs faster, has better picture quality and longer battery life. It is essentially a new toy for me to play with and one big happy distraction. Just when I am getting into the groove of writing a story about a train ride in Berlin, I suddenly get the urge to watch something on YouTube, check statuses on Facebook and now Twitter, or read some trashy celebrity gossip site. With so many temptations at my fingertips, it could take years before I have a complete and polished manuscript.

Thankfully, my teachers at the conference reminded me that however ancient a piece of paper and pen might be, it is not so bad. You can buy a pen and paper anywhere at any moment for just a dollar. You can carry a pen and paper with you anywhere so if an idea pops into your head, you are ready to write it down lest you forget this burst of genius swirling around in your brain. Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing to distract you from putting pen to paper. Thoughts can just flow freely from idea to paper without temptation meddling in between.

At the conference, my fellow attendees and I participated in writing exercises led by our teachers and while some people had their laptops propped on their laps, there were more people with just pens and notebooks. Ever since that conference I have been writing in my notebook. I just like the whole feel of putting ink to paper. It feels more personal like when people used to hand write letters to each other, which I still like to do sometimes. I am going to San Diego for a week next week and I am looking forward to sitting on a beach with my pen and paper and not thinking about anything else. I will not have to worry about where I am going to plug in my power charger on the sand and that is truly a vacation.

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