Paper versus PC

Something I get asked about a lot is whether I write on paper or on the computer. The answer is that I write on the computer, partly because I’m lazy (and so have no wish to spend time typing up handwritten stuff later), and partly because that just works better for me. I wish that I could write on paper. Somehow it seems more writerly to be sat there with a pen and notebook. Very Austen-ish and Bronte-ish and Poe-ish. But, quite aside from the fact that my handwriting is almost illegible, even to me, and that I would almost certainly lose the notebook eventually, the main problem I have with writing on paper is that it’s too difficult to move paragraphs around or rephrase sentences. You end up with a lot of messy crossings out and scribblings. I can make notes on paper happily enough, but actually writing part of a novel directly onto paper is something I find quite trying.

Recently, though, I’ve been forcing myself to write on paper sometimes for the simple reason that I can then go out to the garden. This is nice because it means that Moose can run around and release some pent up energy. It’s also good because I can be working whilst at the same time eating ice cream and drinking beer. Or wine. But not too much beer or wine, obviously, because writing when you’re drunk doesn’t tend to yield particularly good results. Ahem.

Anyway, the point is that working in the garden with sun and ice cream and beer, at hours that suit me, is one of the great things about being an author. I cringed recently when I heard of a company that insists their employees raise their hands and ask permission to go to the toilet in order that the time they’re away from their desks can be timed. Eh? What? Seriously?

I still prefer writing on the computer because I hate having to waste time typing up stuff later. But I’ve found that I can write on paper if I have to, as long as I have a really pretty, girly notebook, and a funky pen. Thankfully, having been to America recently, I am well stocked up on funky pens, including some particularly cool ones from the Rainforest Cafe. 

On a related note, I can’t write if there’s music on, and I certainly couldn’t write in a coffee shop as I know some other writers do. I need quiet because I need to be able to think, and I generally can’t do that if there’s too much going on around me.

Lex Trent is the exception to the above. I’ve written scenes for Lex whilst on a packed train, on holiday, and various other noisy, public places. This is not something I would ever usually be able to do but Lex comes to me so easily that I believe I could write a Lex Trent book on the walls of a cave using nothing but a stick of charcoal. He takes over my head so completely that I’m simply not aware of anything else that may be going on around me. Lex aside, though, much as I have enjoyed being all Austen and stuff, writing in a notebook underneath the pear tree in the garden whilst the dogs enjoy a rare bit of sunshine, and the tortoises walk mashed up bits of food around their pen, I still would take the PC over the paper every time.

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2 Responses to “Paper versus PC”

  1. Wilfred Says:

    Hmm, why not buy a laptop from the royalties of your next book? They work great outside. :)

  2. Alex Bell Says:

    I have a laptop but I find I can’t see the screen outside – even if I’m sat in the shade. The sunlight reflects off it and makes it impossible to see, so I end up squinting at it like Mr Magoo.

    Without my glasses (or contact lenses), I *am* Mr Magoo. My eyes are terrible, especially when I’m tired.

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