Why I Use Pen & Paper

When I think of my business/website/blog/whatever you want to call Austin B Media, my first thought is to describe the company is as a mainly digital company. Most of my business is done digitally. So why are pens and pieces of paper important? After all, it all ends up being published digitally, so why? Well, to tell you why, let’s trace my steps as someone who likes to write what is on his mind.

When I first started writing, really writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. I set up a Blogger site and called it good, posting whenever I thought of a cool idea I thought people should read. During this period, most of what I wrote was off the cuff, unedited, and frankly embarrassing to read looking back on it. After shutting this Blogger down when I became embarrassed by the content I wrote (which I deeply regret), I decided there had to be some way to better organize my thoughts before it hit the editorial stage. On a trip to CVS, I started looking around for something. I didn’t have space for a whiteboard, so I decided to pick up three full-sized notebooks and a steno notebook. This actually worked well for me at the time. The notebooks offered enough space to just dump all my thoughts onto paper and edit them down to something I could write up and post for the entire world to see the same day. It also offered something I could refer back to if I needed to.

Then, I got a first-generation iPad mini with a Bluetooth keyboard attached to it. I fell in love with the device after installing Evernote. It offered a way to take my notes in the same way I did on paper, but in a smaller form factor. Plus, it was a lot quieter than flipping pages of notebook paper during podcast recording, which I was doing multiple times a day at that point. The only problem was that I had to manage more than I ever did on paper and that it was quite unwieldy to use if I just needed to write something down at a moment’s notice.

When I formed Austin B Media, I tried to move to a more task-based regimen. I’d tried Asana, Google Tasks, Todoist, and many others in an effort to regain that same feeling that I had writing on paper. None of them quite captured the feeling of just writing and seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Finally, in August, I made one small but worthwhile investment: an 80 sheet college-ruled notepad and a series of colored pens. At the time, my line of thought was that I could use this while watching screeners or taking notes while watching movies in theaters. You know, something handheld so that I could take the notepad practically anywhere and enough colored pens to differentiate between the categories of notes I was taking or the method of distribution for something I was reviewing.

Honestly, the return to pen & paper has been healing for my writing style. I’m now able to jot thoughts down quickly when I’m on a tight schedule, I can take it anywhere I need to, don’t need to pay a subscription to use them, and it’s just generally helped me eke out what needs to go into my writing and what doesn’t. The rest is the edit.

Here’s what I use:

This is not to disparage anyone from digital notebooks or task management systems; this is simply one man’s opinion.

Thanks to Thomas Stoneham-Judge from Movies For Reel for supporting Austin B Media!