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Notebook or Notebook?

I used to write first drafts in longhand. That wasn't because I preferred it, and not because I didn't have a word processor. I did a lot of agency work in the 1990s (twenty-five different companies in all). And I shared a car with my husband, who did a lot of overtime. So plenty of writing happened in the passenger seat. We had a laptop, but they were damn heavy in the 90s, and the battery didn't last two minutes. And anyway, the monitor stopped working shortly after the warranty ran out!

As a result, I have half a filing cabinet filled with notebooks, full and empty. And if pushed, I will write first drafts in them but I prefer to word process. I know some authors talk about the way a notebook prevents you from getting critical of your material too early. To me, there's critical and critical. You can be critical in a way that undermines your whole effort, that calls into question your ability to write at all. I'm not sure anything cures that, not permanently. Self-belief is a constant challenge.

Or you can be critical in the sense that you come up with a better way to say what you just wrote down. That's when a notebook becomes a nuisance, because you have to cross out words and and try to fit your edited version in the white space above. Or you perpetually draw arrows acoss the page (I've also done notations and appendices) from the original to the better version. PC is the better tool for this.

What I do use notebooks for is brainstorming and outlining. That is when it's all about new ideas, not about getting it right.


January 2015



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