How do you write?

Wondering how others settle down to write. Do you need a cozy corner off to yourself? Some place where you can think and put your thoughts in order? Do you sit in front of a laptop or some other form of electronic communicator? Or do you go the old route of pen and paper? 

Some people say they need activity around them in order for the thoughts to flow. Like writing in a coffee shop or even in a home where there are lots of others present. Personally I can't see how anyone can get one word down with all the chaos going on.

When I started writing there were only two forms of doing it. One was to take a pad and pen or pencil whichever you preferred and write. The second was to bang it out on a typewriter. The typewriter thing was not as convenient in my mind because I might get an idea when I was out on a walk, or even in the bathtub. So having the pad and pen always nearby was the best way for me at the time. Of course after collecting my thoughts on paper, if I thought it was worthwhile then all of those notes got typed up neatly on a typewriter. 

Oh yes, the typewriter. My first one was so large and so clumpy that it had to be set in one spot and never moved. It must have weighed two hundred pounds or felt like it. And be careful not to knock it because if it tipped over you could have a hole in your floor or a badly bruised floor at least. And the noise and the mess. Just when you thought you were getting somewhere and ideas were flowing freely, the ribbon got stuck, or it ran out and you had to replace it or wait until you got to a store to buy a new one. The frustrations of early typing. 

Then along came the little portable typewriters. Now these guys were way easier to manipulate. You could move them easily from room to room, or take them outside on a nice day if you were so inclined to write. After that the electric typewriter. Boy was that something to get used to. Where the old typewriter keys had spaces down between them, the electric keyboard did not and everything was so close together your fingers got all jumbled up on top of each other. And be careful if you typed too fast or hit the keys too hard, you were then in for a lot of mistakes. But the hardest part was going from an electric typewriter back to a manual. If you had not been on the old manual for awhile and had hopefully forgotten all of its barbaric ways, then you were in for a frustrating surprise. Your fingers did not plunk hard enough to even make a mark on the paper, your fingers also wanted to keep falling into the crevices between each key and if that happened you could sorely hurt that finger of yours. 

Then the word processor came along. Oh boy was that nice. You even actually had a screen, even though it was tiny. You could see the words that you typed, you could save it and you even had little discs to save your work on and that was a wonderful thing!

Finally we got the computer, for me that was 1997. At first I was afraid of it. Afraid if it went off accidentally I might not get it to come on again. Also I was told not to turn it off without shutting down. So if things got bad, and things got frozen and I could do no more, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't shut down properly and I was deathly afraid to just turn it off. What if it exploded or something? Then my little brain reasoned: what if the power goes off, then the computer shuts down, right? So that had happened before and it didn't blow up or get broken, so I finally calmed down and stopped being afraid of my computer. 

Even though I had typewriters and word processors and finally the computer, I still continued to write my articles and novels long hand. If I were to put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or turn on a blank screen for writing, I would just stare at it, any creative thoughts that had been in my head seemed to take a hike. But give me a comfortable couch or chair in a warm and quiet spot, a pad of paper and a pencil and I was all set. As soon as I put pencil to paper the words began to flow and they never stopped. I could erase, correct, whatever I needed to do and I was at ease. 

I wrote with pen/pencil and pad for many years then cleaned them up on the typewriter or computer later. It was only a few years ago that I got comfortable composing on my laptop. I can sit almost anywhere I want to, and I am officially weaned from the paper and pen. I sometimes wonder though, if I were to find a really comfortable and inspiring place and only had a pad and pen, what might come out of my fingertips. What might be lurking there behind the fingertips that gets frozen up when my fingers touch a keyboard?  Someday maybe I will try and find out. Happy Writing Everyone!

Copyright 2011 by Carol Marlene Smith

Carol Marlene Smith is an author and artist living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has four published novels and a number of short stories. She loves to write about the positive power of writing!


  1. I remember the good ol' days of the typewriter. Though the laptop is my vehicle of writing now, the typewriter era was a dear one. ;)

  2. I used to love my typewriter. Back then I was very young still but already had a passion for writing. It was a kids one, pink and with a very messy ink strip.

    I'm definitely happier with my computer, or even better with my laptop, but I have fond memories of my typewriter.


I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.