The Writer's Desk
When I read about J.K. Rowling writing in longhand on a legal pad while sitting in a coffee shop, I shudder. To each his own, but this sounds like torture to me.
Every writer has his/her own way of creating. I used to write on a manual typewriter at my dining room table. Then I wrote on an electric typewriter and then a desk computer in an office in my home. Then I moved to a different house and made the whole upstairs an office and library and wrote on a new desktop computer. Then the Internet, routers, and laptops took over and I now write on a laptop in a downstairs office. I keep thinking that I'll start writing in the upstairs office again, but then I think it's dumb to heat and cool that whole floor.
The point is, I like to write in basically the same place and on the same instrument, day after day. Sometimes, if my back his aching or I'm crushing a deadline, I'll take the laptop into the living room and sit on the couch to write during the evening after writing all day in my office.
My library upstairs is hardly ever used now and I've donated more than half of my books that used to be shelved up there to charities. The Internet has become my main source of information, along with a few books about the west and cowboys that are out of print.
I haven't written in longhand anything fictional since I was a kid and didn't know how to type yet. I know of several writers who do write in notebooks, but it seems odd to me. They will have to commit their work to type for it to be saved and/or emailed, so why not start off keying in the computer and skip a step? Or they have to hire someone to key the whole thing into a computer. Waste of money. The longhanders say this way of writing makes them more creative and allows them more time to think.
For me, I think faster than I can type -- and I type fast. When I think back to the days of the typewriter and correction fluid/tape, I break out in hives.
I also use my computer to read back what I've written. The computer guy (I like to use the male voice) reads it to me and that helps me catch mistakes, misspellings, omitted words, etc. It also makes me laugh when he reads my sex scenes in his monotone, unemotional voice.
Back when I was part of a critique group, the reading of our work aloud was a godsend. We could hear it, catch the odd phrasing, wince at the wrong wording, tsk at the poor punctuation, and question how believable a plot point was and if someone really would talk like that. After years and years of being critiqued, I still have one or two other people I respect (as in, they are astute writers and/or readers) read my final drafts and tell me where I've succeeded and where I've failed. It's part of my writing "habit."
That's the thing, you see. Writers are creatures of habit. That's the only way you can actually become a writer. You have to make sitting down in front of a computer screen (or notebook) a habit. Every damned day until it is ingrained. Until it's almost an addiction. If I miss a day or two, I have withdrawal symptoms. I feel that something is amiss. I'm antsy. I feel guilty. That's why most writers write while they're on vacation. They need their "fix."
That's also why some writers continue to write in longhand on lined paper. It's habit. It's their daily drug of choice. The "fix" is in.