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I see this question come up often in different writer’s groups on social media. The question is always presented as right vs wrong way of doing things. The problem with this is that everyone is different, thus very little can be categorically defined as right or wrong when it comes to writing especially the process.

That’s not to say that there isn’t merit in exploring the question.

Rather than go into a list of pros and cons, which is about the most boring way to explore this question, let’s take a more practical approach. First off, I’m going to relate my feelings on the subject. I despise paper notes, yet I find it very comforting to have a notebook and pencil nearby to jot down thoughts and ideas. Now, let’s take a moment to explore my apparent hypocrisy.

When I write, I like to keep track of important information I might want to reference later. For example, as a series of individual yet interconnected stories, I had recurring characters and locations in my Haunted Coal Ridge series. Previously, I kept any important information I might want to reference on nicely labeled and organized notecards. During one of many moves, they got spilled and shuffled, so I put them in a box with the intent of reorganizing them later. It’s now later…and I have no idea where those notes are – Lost! My precious is LOOOOSSST!

So yeah, I hate writing information down on paper for that reason. And yet, sitting on my desk is a notebook with lots of ideas scribbled in it. I will admit that this most current notebook (with Supes on the cover) is mostly filled with gaming ideas. Most recently a method of adapting my current RPG rules set for Jedi. Paging through the notebook, I’m finding very few ideas that are directly related to writing projects. Why?

The reasons are simple. It’s not as easy for me to find specific material in a notebook as it is on my computer, and I have it all automatically backed up so I won’t lose anything. Okay, that’s not always true. I’ve misplaced material on my PC due to poor organization. Originally, I tried Scrivner to help keep it all organized. It’s a good program with many good options, though to me it felt a little clunky. In addition to not being a big fan of the templates (even though you can easily design your own), the program interface felt like it never graduated from the 1990s.

Funny note. I started using Scrivner in early 2003, so at the time the interface didn’t bother me. While I enjoy nostalgia, it’s 2020, and the interface still looks like something from the 1990s. If you’re wondering, I just opened the program, and yes, I do keep it updated because I still have a great deal of information stored in it.

Oddly enough, the product I’ve seemed to settled on for keeping notes is Microsoft OneNote. Why is that odd? Well, because I have my material organized into note cards and notebooks. Each writing project has its own color-coded notebook, with a series of labeled individual note cards. It’s fantastic. I never run out of pages, can easily go back and add new ideas, move ideas to different sections, add individual character details, and do quick searches. AND, it’s all in the cloud, so it follows me on my tablet and mobile phone.

I love technology.

Back to the topic of this blog. When it comes to the question of Paper vs PC,  my preference towards PC has been an evolution. As it’s unlikely that someone who has their own writing processes will be asking this question, and my intention is not to sway anyone towards my way of doing things. Rather, for those who are looking for best practices, I’m sharing my experience to help you make the best decision for you. Ultimately, whichever method helps you to be creative and/or productive, is the right way for you.

For those just starting out, don’t stress about your processes. Try new things and see what works best for you. By that same token, if you’ve been doing something one way for a long time, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way for you. Don’t be afraid to try a new process. Nothing kills imagination as quickly as complacency. Be creative and be persistent. Very few people are able to appreciate how much of yourself you put into your writing, let alone your processes.

Whether it’s paper, PC, old school typewriter, or etch-a-sketch, there is no right or wrong, just find your medium and write.

Unless it’s a Macintrash, that is always wrong.

Come back for a new writing topic in two weeks

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