I hereby declare PaperWeek. This is a week where I make efforts to do as much of my reading, writing and planning on paper – and generally to engage with paper a lot more than I engage with my phone screen. I’m looking for increased creativity, new ideas generated from time spent with a pen in my hand and no distractions, and less eye strain.
PaperWeek will be hard, as I do all my writing, and most of my reading, on my phone, using Evernote and Kindle. But as an experiment, I want to see how working with paper and pen (paint, ink, glue, scissors) affects creativity and inspiration. I hope the sensory, physical aspect will activate different parts of my creative brain.
There are supposedly other benefits to avoiding screens – reducing overstimulation of the brain (an idea which has been around since TVs first appeared in living rooms as a Dangerous Evil) – and reducing interference with circadian rhythms (from the blue light emitted by phones and tablets). So PaperWeek might give me better sleep and a calmer brain, but those are not my aims.
By chance, I was reading the BBC news and saw this, a happy coincidence, about paper’s revolutionary effect on Planet Earth.
I’m also going to be trying out various paper exercises to deepen my understanding of story structure, generate fresh creative ideas, and invent new magic systems.
I feel as if PaperWeek might extend beyond a week, but I’ll have to review it and see how practical it is. I read a lot of books on writing craft, as well as for pleasure, and Kindle books are a fraction of the price of paper books. My phone – where I read my Kindle books – fits in my pocket at all times, far more convenient than a paper book. Plus I blog using my PC, and keep up with distant family via Facebook. Screens will remain in my life even during PaperWeek. Nonetheless, I feel a focus on paper activities could help me.
I sat and (handwrote) a list of paper-based ideas for PaperWeek. I aimed for six or seven items and got fifty. Here are my selections from that list, and a picture showing why I currently don’t handwrite much: my handwriting becomes illegible to me if I wait more than a week after writing it.
There were pages and pages of this (see the second pic below) and I felt like I could have kept going forever. That, I think, is the magic of having a pen in your hand and the sound of it rasping over the paper. There is a physical buzz from handwriting. I get this from typing, too, but I rarely type on a keyboard these days – it’s all phone dab dab dab.
Anyway, here is some of the list, and next week I’ll share what I created, and let you know what effects PaperWeek has on my writing and my life.
- Make a mini book.
- Draw a fantasy map.
- Draw a diagram.
- Make a mindmap.
- Create a plot board.
- Write scenes on physical index cards and shuffle them.
- Paint a picture.
- Handwrite poetry.
- Fold something – maybe origami animals, like in Blade Runner, or one of those fortune-teller things kids make.
- Write in my diary (I am supposed to do this anyway, but keep getting behind).
- Rip, or cut out shapes.
- Make a clock with moving hands. Or maybe a Mood Dial.
- Create a journaling jar, or a wish jar, or a bucket list jar.
- Write a letter – or, more realistically, a postcard.
- Design a crossword puzzle.
- Doodle every chance I get.
- Keep a tally like on a prison cell wall.
- Create a hand-drawn tag cloud of important words.
- Design a book cover.
- Practice calligraphy.
- Read paper books with my child. 🙂
- Play a card game.
- Print a story and edit it by hand.
- Make a bookmark.
- Study a map of where we’re going on holiday – a detailed Ordnance Survey map with every hillock and every tiny copse drawn and named.
- Draw a timeline – of a story, of life events, of my writing career…
- Create a pagan Wheel of the Year showing the ancient seasons.
- Make an envelope and hide a secret letter in it.
- Draw a building blueprint. Bonus points for using actual blue paper.
- Draw the outline of an object – a wineglass, a telephone – and fill it with words.
- Start a noun collection.
- Buy the Sunday papers and read them. Even the sports pages.
- Make a paper plane, or boat.
- Write a message you would put in a bottle.
- Make a name tag for yourself, with care instructions, like in Paddington.
- Write a packing list for a trip to an imaginary land. Think wealthy Victorians. They packed everything. Or think poor Victorians – they packed a lump of cheese, a piece of bread and a knife, maybe a firelighting kit. Include items for the imaginary dangers you expect to meet. Dragon shovel, troll salt.
- Make a scroll like the Romans might have used.
- Write on unusual surfaces – paper cups or cereal boxes.
- Make a miniature protest placard.
- Write a cheque – or make a fake one for an amount you wish you had.
- Write a Declaration, like Martin Luther’s 95 Theses from 1517, and nail it to a significant door. Or just make the Declaration and display it somewhere proudly.
I think a week is not enough time for PaperWeek. But I’ll let you know how I get on.
What do you do that is paper-oriented? Why do you do it with paper and not electronically? Let me know in the comments!