While researching term papers in college, I copied countless bits of information from books onto index cards. Before I sat down to write, I shuffled and reshuffled the notes like playing cards until I found the right order. Then I strung the thoughts together on my grandmother’s 1954 Smith Corona typewriter.
Yes, I am dating myself, but that typewriter was already “vintage” by the time I got to college.
I say I would never go back to those days and yet, I almost did recently while preparing a presentation on social media. I had amassed a huge amount of data and interesting quotes—and I was feeling overwhelmed.
As I sat wondering where to start, a sudden impulse took hold. I grabbed the folder of ideas I’d printed out, along with a couple of sharp pencils and a pair of scissors, and set out for one of my favorite local coffee houses, Café Trieste.
Coffee is a huge part of the writing process for me, so that was no surprise. But the impulse to leave my laptop at home did make me wonder. I almost never write anything on paper any more, other than notes. I seem to “think” with my fingers, so I wasn’t even sure I could organize written material without a keyboard.
However, it turned out to be a good idea. While holding the paper and scissors, cutting and separating the scraps into ideas to use and ideas to lose, I felt so much more focused. I sipped the latte while sifting and sorting, until the piles finally began to make sense. One more latte’s worth of reshuffling and trimming, and I was ready for PowerPoint.
When I got back to the laptop, the piles turned into logical sections of the presentation and the writing just flowed. Maybe it was because I took the opportunity to unplug and think everything through first.
Just curious: what’s your creative process? Does it help to unplug sometimes?