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This is What Famous Writers Use to Create Magic

This is What Famous Writers Use to Create Magic

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.

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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).

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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.

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Infographic source: Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

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Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

    Featured photo credit: Ninja Essays via flickr.com

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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