Going paperless. It sounds as if I am being noble and jumping on the Go Green bandwagon, but sadly, that’s not the case. Not that I have anything against being green or trying to help nature endure and saving resources and all of that other “do it for the environment” hoopla. I recycle and I try to conserve water and energy, unless, of course, I’m super hot and then that air conditioning is being cranked on high, electric bill be damned. It’s always based on my comfort level, as well. To the rest living here I merely encourage them to buck it up, they didn’t have air conditioning a century ago and people survived.
No, what I mean about going paperless is in connection with my writing. If you’ve been reading The Mess for any length of time, then you know that I write everything out with pen and paper before committing it to the keyboard and virtual memory. Computers crash and my trusty notebooks never have, which is why they are my trusty notebooks. The laptop I am using now has frozen up on me twice this week and almost locked me out, which caused me to move my writing back to a flash drive for storage. Technology and I get along about as well as I do with cars and we all know that isn’t very well.
I also used to write everywhere I went, on car rides, at the barbers, at friends’ homes, on the toilet. My notebooks were mobile and easily snatched up at the last minute. I could have several notebooks going with tons of plotlines and carry only what I needed or everything. Usually it was everything, which the girls hated when we went on overnight trips. I had one bag of writing for every bag of luggage they carried to the car.
However, over the past couple of weeks, I have been rethinking my philosophy. The idea is to be more productive and writing in notebooks, and then typing up what I’ve written, while helps with edits, is time consuming, as well. I realized that in order to get more accomplished, I needed to change my methods. It was time to type first and ask questions later. At least the laptop is still mobile, so I can carry it with me most places. Except the toilet. It’s hard to balance it in there.
Furthermore, I found that it also helps me keep track of everything a little bit better. I have been writing since I was in ninth grade and because of that I have files and files of manuscripts, some finished; some just partials or ideas on paper. I have lists of characters and outlines of stories that have been moved from one file cabinet to another throughout the years. The paper is getting yellow with age and the ink fading on some of them; the words lost. Some of the pages of manuscripts had become lost through the years and great ideas forever forgotten. It was also taking up quite a bit of room that I could be using for holiday decorations in the garage.
Therefore, I stacked all of my writings up and two weeks ago began the tedious, but enlightening process of typing them all into the laptop. I had found projects that I had forgotten about but which had some strong possibilities and revisited old ideas that needed to stay old. Yet, I wanted to preserve them as lessons of where I had been and how far I have come. And the writing did just that. I was able to see my progress over the years as a writer, where I was weak and grew and where I still need to grow even more. It put a burst of excitement back into me that kept me at the keyboard, plucking away with my two fingers as I search out the right keys to type the word “the.”
My typing will get better, I’m sure. I also still edit with red ink on the printed out versions. I can’t go all techie overnight, now. Yet, this process of doing away with the paper and dealing with pixels has helped me produce more work in a faster amount of time and for that I know I made the right move. I miss my notebooks and I can’t use my laptop while sitting in the pickup line waiting to rescue the 8 year-old from school, but I can use that time to do something else like research, character sketches, or edits. I’m still productive, but also more organized. It’s taking awhile to get used to, but I think it’s well worth the effort. Of course, now I need to come up with another reason to buy all of my fancy notebooks and journals, but I’ll think of something.
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