When I wrote the first draft of my debut novel Free City, it was to good, old fashioned pen and paper I turned to get the job done. I had tried writing using a laptop, but found myself too easily distracted for it to be productive. There were two main issues with the computer; it took too long to turn on, and it has ready access to the internet.
When I set myself the task of completing the first book, I decided I needed something with fewer distractions to make sure I completed my goal. I did not have a timeframe for finishing the book, it takes as long as it takes in my view, but I wanted to make sure I wrote something at least everyday, and decided notebooks and a pen were the obvious choice. After all, they take no time to load, and the internet connection is poor.
Clearly, it worked. I cannot recall how long it took precisely, but save the occasional day when I was too busy with work or family, I was able to put pen to paper and get the first draft of my book finished. I still have the notebooks, an added bonus of having a physical memento of the start of my book to look back on.
Once the initial draft was completed, I had to revert to the computer for subsequent versions, but the job had been completed, or half completed at least.
Since writing the first book, I have resorted to a mixed-methods approach to writing. I began drafting a book idea which I may return to in time on a notebook, but the majority of my writing has been either on the laptop, or increasingly on my phone.
For certain pieces this has been productive. Blog posts are best done on a phone or computer, while short stories and a non-fiction in particular lend themselves to at least drafting on my phone (and as my family are well aware my phone is always with me). When it comes to writing a novel, I have once again discovered the limitations of my phone or laptop. I have drafted plot outlines for a couple of books on my phone, but when it comes to a coherent text, there is nothing quite like pen and paper.
The good news this weekend, the notebook is back! I have had an idea rattling around in my head for some time now for a new book (not the sequel to Free City just yet) and I have finally decided it is time to get the first draft done. Much like when I wrote Free City, I intend to try writing a little each day to get the story finished, and who knows, by the new year I might have something to start thinking about submitting.
(And for those intrigued, the working title of the book is on the notepad, Deprogrammed. Any guesses what the story will be about…?)