Poets & Writers Toolkit: Paper

Our geography affects our actions. It simply does.

I could give you a big historical low-down on the matter (all very interesting, if you have time for some talk on island cultures, peace in Switzerland, and Alaskan ice fishermen) or I could state it matter-of-factly, based on my experiences in teaching art and writing.

You see where this is going. Matter of fact: I have watched artists, poets & writers produce wildly different writing and art simply by providing them with different kinds of paper. Post-It Notes© versus rolls of brown butcher paper. Lined versus plain. Rough versus smooth. You name it. Paper has a geography, and it affects our creative actions.

In just one week, our 2013 Poetry Workshop will begin. Maybe you have chosen that as part of your creative geography. Maybe not. If you have, it will change your creative actions, I assure you. But either way, you can give yourself the gift of a new creative geography today, on the most basic of scales: your paper choices.

Why not create a writing box (or corner, or bookshelf, or drawer)? Start simply with paper. Stock different sizes, shapes, colors, textures. Make that part of your poet’s & writer’s palette. See what comes. Then tell us about it. We want to hear your adventures.

Photo by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing

Thanks to Maureen Doallas for recommending the Moleskine notebooks in our comments! Check ’em out…


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  1. L. L. Barkat says

    Does the graph paper change the way you write?

    I was talking to a friend who lived in Europe, and she said they were writing on graph paper in that region and they couldn’t believe the margins in her notebook. A lot of waste, they thought.

    I wonder if margins create a different psychological expectation? Not that we’d be conscious of it. :)

    • says

      Interesting question. I waste space when I use graph paper, probably more than if I had margins.

      But I also write wherever I want on the page, maybe starting right in the middle. And it might have drawings along with it. I don’t do that with regular lined or blank paper.

      Little square boxes can be good for me. :)

  2. Donna says

    Interesting… and this will be fun to play around with when writing.

    I notice that different medium change the way I see myself as a person who tries to draw. When I draw on paper I feel…well, like it would not inspire drooling…. BUT when I draw using the Draw Something game app I think “heck, I could illustrate my OWN children’s book”. I mean, you should have seen the chicken I drew yesterday! And then I go back to paper and it just doesn’t work again. And how many times I find myself in the art store buying tablets and water color that sit in a drawer until I give them away to someone with young children who like that sort of thing.

    My Artist Within is fickle, just or particular… I am not sure which. Maybe she’s just a digital babe.

    This will be interesting to try with words…

  3. Bethany Rohde says

    What a great post. 😀 Even though I have two beautiful journals (which I received as gifts), I tend to write poetry most freely on loose sheets of college ruled paper.

    I like the idea of trying graph paper or other textures and types.

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