Don’t you get a little bored of your computer screen when you have to type a long piece of text? You find the salvation in browsing through social media websites, but then forget the most important ideas you wanted to write down. Apparently, some of the most famous writers don’t appreciate the distractions of the Internet as much as we commoners do. If Mark Twain were alive, we would probably still see him with his favored notebook.

The word processors on our computers help us get more organized and write without crossing out words or paragraphs. However, it’s not always beneficial to forget about the ideas that seemed wrong; they might lead you to another dimension of the story that could make it deeper and cooler.

What can we learn from the practices of famous writers?

If you have troubles writing a story, a paper for school, or even a book, any Internet tutorial will tell you the same: plan your ideas, write an outline and stick to it. That strategy may work for school projects, but it would be devastating for real writers.

  • George R.R. Martin, for example, hates outlines. Could you even imagine that level of creativity being suffocated by an outline written before the idea for the next death strikes in?
  • Neil Gaiman is one of our favorite contemporary writers, but his methods of writing are less than contemporary. He would surely do well with a writing app, but he chooses to use a more conventional writing tool that enables him to think more about the sentences before writing them. Truman Capote would approve his method.
  • Stephen King doesn’t find sitting at a computer particularly comfortable, so he uses a fountain pen. Besides allowing him to experiment with positions during writing, the pen also enables him to slow down and be fully focused on the words he writes.
  • We wouldn’t appreciate Twain’s preferred custom-made notebooks if we saw them at a bookstore today, but they sure were inspiring to him.
  • Ernest Hemingway, on the other hand, couldn’t decide which writing tool was better, a pencil or a typewriter, so he used them both interchangeably.
  • John Steinbeck had a real addiction to pencils. Today we underestimate the power of a simple Blackwing pencil, but you would surely think of them differently when you realize that he didn’t need anything more to write East of Eden.

This is how our favorite authors do magic.

Famous writers can be controversial and outrageous, but their writing methods seem to have that element of classic simplicity. The greatest writers in history didn’t need anything more than a pencil to create the works we still admire, and today’s authors seem to follow that practice. Why do they keep neglecting all those apps and tools that can make them work much faster and easier? They don’t want “fast and easy” (well okay, maybe Paulo Coelho does).

What we can learn from their practices is that our creative juices cannot start flowing if we try to force them. A computer program that erases your text if you don’t achieve the goal of writing a certain number of words may make you faster, but will surely take its toll on quality.

Creative writers are not afraid of the mess in their heads; they welcome it with open minds. Did you know how J.K. Rowling drafted the life of our favorite wizard? Hint: it wasn’t in Google Docs. When you go through this infographic and see what tools famous writers used to create some of our favorite books, you will have a different opinion of pens, notebooks, typewriters, and even DOS machines.

Infographic source: Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

Featured photo credit: Ninja Essays via flickr.com

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