Writing pad (or notebooks) are underestimated. In the age of the smartphone, I can understand how the humble writing pad has lost some of its appeal. I used to be the same, I’d think, ‘I’ve got my phone, with it’s handy notepad feature, why would I need to lug a writing pad about?’
But since I’ve been fiction writing, I’ve come to learn how valuable having a writing pad is, how much I use it, and if I’d kept a writing pad with me when I first started If He Wakes, I don’t think it would’ve taken me so long to finish.
You need to get the idea out of your head
When I had the idea for If He Wakes, I didn’t think I’d ever forget it. I was in a car park, waiting for my husband and the idea for the novel was so strong, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There was no way I was going to forget that. No way. The idea was gold.
My husband got in the car and I told him about it, we discussed it, he gave me his take on the idea. Then we did our chores, went to the supermarket, saw to my baby etc etc. By the time I came to write down my idea for the book, I had seven words, ‘woman sees husband run man over, why?’ that was it.
If I’d had a writing pad on me and scribbled down the idea instead of talking it through with my husband, I would’ve had so much more to work with. I wouldn’t have stared at those seven words and wondered what all the fuss was about, because my enthusiasm for the idea would’ve jumped right off the page and smacked me in the face. It would’ve all been there, ready to pick up and run with.
Writing pads are easier to use than your smartphone.
I can hear you disagreeing with me from here, but hear me out. Say you’re in a rush, you have an idea, and you only have thirty seconds to get it out of your head. You know that you need to get it down somehow, so you reach for your phone. You go to the notepad, but wait, what’s that? You have a new message. And three new notifications on Facebook and four on Instagram. Your idea can wait whilst you check those out can’t it? NO IT CAN NOT. This was my failing. If you have a writing pad, there are none of these distractions. None of them. Just a piece of paper, a pen and your ideas waiting to be put on paper.
A writing pad gets rid of bad ideas
Sometimes, when I’m writing a novel, I get a brilliant idea for another one. The timing is terrible. I’m about halfway through writing a book and a new flashy idea starts waving at me. The temptation to leave the novel I’m currently working on and start the new idea is very, very tempting. A writing pad gets rid of this distraction. The idea gets out of your head and in the pad, ready to be used at a later date. Documenting the idea, writing it all down clears my head and lets me get on with the novel I’m currently working on.
Writing pads track ideas
So after you’ve scribbled down your initial idea, having a writing pad handy lets you formulate and develop it. This can not be done on a smartphone. Well it could, but it would be fiddly and a long document and I don’t even want to think about how you would go back and forth to see your processing of the idea.
A writing pad can formalise your train of thought. It lets you consolidate your thoughts, see if the idea you had can go the distance. By working through your idea in your writing pad, you can tell if you’ve got a whole novel or a short story. Something I wish I’d known how to utilise before starting several books that only petered out to nothing at about forty thousand words. A writing pad lets you see this before you start and that is invaluable.
Writing pads clear your head
Just like point three (getting rid of bad ideas) writing pads help you stay organised and are in a way, giving your brain a spring clean. By getting stuff down on paper, you’re getting it out of your head leaving more room for imagination and creativity. Documenting your thought process is a great way to order thoughts and clear out the jumble. A writing pad, if used properly, can be a way of taking control of your ideas, of nurturing them and letting them develop and giving you room for new ones.
So far the writing pads I’ve used have been notebooks, but I’m looking into starting a bullet journal for my next novel and compiling my ideas that way.
I’m thinking of starting a series of posts based on how to use a bullet journal for fiction writing, is this something you do? Let me know!