Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Writer's Dependence On Paper

As a writer, the one thing that’s problematic for me is that I really, really dislike taking notes on a computer. Constantly, I carry around a bag that contains at least two notebooks and enough pens to bathe a small puppy in ink. The pockets of my messenger bag are filled with index cards that I can quickly access if a thought hits me and I need to write it down ASAP. Draft upon draft of note-ridden screenplays lay in a pile on the floor by my bed. So when decreasing paper use comes up in discussing how to make our production more sustainable, I feel like a hypocrite.

I’m trying though. Lately, I’ve been editing pieces on my computer, something I’ve rarely done. I end up skimming more than I do when it’s on a piece of paper, and the pull of the internet is much stronger than I want to admit. But it’s a skill that I need to further develop, as technology won’t be waiting for me to catch up. And if I need to, I can always print out pages on the back of ones I’ve already used, a trick that I’ve picked up from Jenny.

I’ve also started reusing a lot of my older notebooks. Most of them are barely filled, wholly dedicated to projects that never made it farther than ten pages in said books. I have seven of these. Instead of carrying two or three books, each with a title referring to my musings, I’ve condensed it to one, a title and date written at the top of each page to jog my memory when I need it.

The note cards aren’t going anywhere for now, though. My greatest ideas have always started on a scrap of paper. As I write this, 2000 index cards are stacked on the corner of my desk waiting to be tacked onto a corkboard to map out characters and plotlines. Doing anything but using these up would be environmentally irresponsible. When they dwindle down though, I’m going to try my best to find responsible substitutes, whether it be the backs of outdated business cards, electronic "notecards" or recycled ones.

It might take me longer to edit, and I may have to spend more time in front of the computer. But these are things I know in the long run will not only be a positive for the environment, but also for improving my writing process. Sometimes, you gotta see the forest for the trees.

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