Writing Unplugged

One of my favorite (or at least most rewarding) things to do is spend an entire morning on my deck working on an essay, researching, and reading books. I love the cool breeze paired with my hot coffee. I love the natural light and the surrounding wildlife. I like when big, dozy bumble bees hover around me, mistaking my floral dress for actual flowers.

This past weekend, I broke out my typewriter and was even visited by a good friend of mine (yes, she’s a chicken, and shortly after this photo was taken she began to peck at my bruises).

JJTypewriter It felt so nice to be outside, surrounded by fresh air. This was on Saturday, and I challenged myself to stay away from my computer until 5:00 pm. Only then could I check my email, update my blog, or check the Sunday weather forecast. If I wanted to check a fact or look up a word, I was forced to put it off or use a dictionary. It was liberating.

Although I rarely check my phone and can easily go entire weekends without the internet, I do find that it can sometimes be a challenge to resist the lure of the internet, even while I’m writing. It’s become so easy to look up sources, to check my facts, to read reviews of a book I’m studying. These are great things. But it’s also easy to fall into dangerous habits, like taking multiple Facebook breaks, watching mind-numbing Youtube videos, and scrolling through the Twitter feeds of total strangers.

Writing unplugged from the internet, either in notebooks or on a typewriter, is absolutely liberating. Picking up a dictionary and carefully learning a new word is an activity I cherish, and marking my reading with sticky notes instead of browser tabs is a great habit.

From now on, I’m going to challenge myself to do the bulk of my weekend writing on my typewriter or in my old Moleskine. I’m more productive when I’m not enticed by the web, and I find that I don’t look for the easy way out of questions. If I want to know why Eliot quoted Baudelaire, I don’t type it into a search engine… I go pick up The Flowers of Evil.

Here’s to a more productive, more liberating summer!



Why buy a Moleskine when napkins exist?

The cool thing about having writing as a passion is that you can do it for FREE. As long as you have some sort of writing instrument (ink, charcoal, blood?), you can write till you totally deplete your imagination (which will be never). The world is full of things to write on… Receipts, napkins, skin, etcetcetcetcetc.

So, then, why on earth do I spend twenty bucks  each on extra large, soft cover, blank page Moleskine notebooks? Is it so that I can look like a snobby Ann Arborite next to my composition book-toting peers? [No]. Is it so that I can trick myself into only writing high quality poems that are worthy of the over-priced notebook? [No, and also it wouldn’t work anyway].

The thing is, I don’t know why, but it just feels… right to keep writing in the same notebook. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It has a nice weight to it. The soft cover bends in a way that feels like a hug when I hold it against my chest (I need more friends). Opening up my black notebook during lunch breaks and in my evenings after work is a ritual. It’s part of my routine. And for me, it works. Typing into a Word doc or writing on a loose leaf of paper just isn’t the same. And although I feel a bit snobbish paying for a notebook when I could easily use the back of my hand, I will say that filling up a journal has it’s merits, and buying a brand new one always presents itself to me like a challenge.

I think there are some definite benefits to finding materials that work well for you. And the more comfortable you are while writing, the longer you’re likely to write. Find what works, and do it.