A Tree-Loving Traitor I Am…

Day 24 – “X” Xeroxes, Printouts, and Notes

I feel terrible about how much I print out. I really do. As part of my obsessive outlining process, I print out photos, floor plans, and excerpts. I write out quotes and passages, and tack up any and everything that is inspirational to the piece I’m writing along the edges of the hutch on my desk, and paste images into my outlining notebooks. I’ve always been a very visual person, and having these notes and printouts helps me immensely in creating the perfect setting or the ideal character in my head, which aids me in the writing process.


Much like outlining by hand, there is just something about physically printing out everything that makes it more “real” in some way. I can highlight applicable passages, write in comments, and can make these notes my own vs staring at a generic, cold screen. At times, I wish this wasn’t the case. I know so many writers who are able to do everything electronically, who create storyboards in Word, OneNote, or Scrivener, save links to websites and images, and type in their comments and notes.

I envy these green writers, but that will never be me. It has never been me. It is bittersweet as a nature-loving Oregonian, that I am so compelled to print out and make copies of any and everything I can get my hands on that’s related to my novels.

“Tree killer. Tree killlleeeerrrrrr,” whispers my Creative Gremlin.

*le sigh*

What process do you partake in? Do you print out images and photos, make copies of  the pages of library books, and scribble notes in the margins as I do? Are you strictly electronic? Or are you a nice, happy balance between the two?




35 thoughts on “A Tree-Loving Traitor I Am…

  1. I am in the planning stage of a renovation to our garage. Not only am I carrying around a printout of the 3D model, I have a page for all four view (NW NE SE SW). I told myself that I would sketch in the next set of changes at lunch. Then a friend asked me to go for a walk, and it’s a sunny day, soooo…

  2. You have to do what’s best for you and your writing style. I like to use Scivener for my writing organization. I hate handwriting anything. I’m glad you have a method that works well for you… even though you’re deforesting our planet. 😉 ha ha j/k

    1. I know, I KNOOOOWWWW! 😦

      The more I hear about Scrivener, the more I want to give it a shot. I think it might be a good “in-between” place to transfer my notes and outlines to prior to writing, just to have everything in one place.

      1. It’s a little complicated and I’m sure I don’t use even half of the features, but it works for me. 🙂

  3. No, never give up on these wonderful bits and pieces that are part of the entire experience of writing. Embrace it, don’t apologize, enjoy, and write on with everything you need around you.Let someone else save a tree, and if it makes sense, plant one in your garden as a way of saying thank you for the creative process that involves everything you use. I for one am cheering you on.

  4. This is where Scrivener is great. While I do physical story boards, outline on paper, and make notes in WIP notebooks, I collect it all in Scrivener.
    Never say never. You may love Scrivener and you may change your ways.

  5. I’m a blend, with a heavy slant for digital. I still like to print out a draft when I need to do heavy revisions, and I still take notes on paper on the go, but I’m pretty much fully digital. Scrivener has definitely molded me into this kind of writer. And the fear that paper documents will get ruined; I like having 3-4 backups of everything. 🙂

  6. I don’t print much. (Which our mothers complain about, regardless of me sending the digital copies to them…)
    I scrapbook, so when I do print, I’m specific. If I screw up, then there might be extra prints for our mothers 🙂 Mostly I resent the cost of printer ink, especially how two pages of color photos will zap the cartridge! Whenever possible, I choose to get it done somewhere like Sam’s. (which is where I tell them to go…but whatever.)
    I do occasionally mark books.
    The more I read of people using Scrivener, the more my curiosity grows…
    I use no photos for writing. I’m pretty impressed with your incredible organization!

  7. Hey, recycle your paper and then you shouldn’t feel too bad. 😉

    I tended to do quite a lot electronically; then I got to Odyssey which is heavily paper-based. When we finished a story, we printed off a copy and left it in the collection envelope downstairs. The work-study guy ran off 15 or so copies, and every weekday we had 2 or three stories stapled together on our desks to critique. After the critique circle, we handed the marked-up story as well as our printed critique to the author.

    All of this demonstrated to me that my Inner Editor loves scribbling in pen on actual printed pages, who knew? So I still print stuff off a lot of the time if I’m critiquing or revising it.

    1. Oh I do! We are uber recyclers here in Oregon! 🙂

      I think at the end of the day it has to be a balance. I typically do all of my outlining and planning manually, and then switch to electronic when it comes to actual writing and converting some of my outlines to an e-format.

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m enjoying reading your posts in the challenge!! 🙂

  8. I’m a fan of Scrivener, but I doodle into notebooks almost obsessively. I print almost nothing though, with the exception of a list of famous author rejections, which is stuck on the wall in my office.

  9. I think whatever helps your creativity best is worth the trees. I always do my morning freewrites by hand because I think I’m less likely to criticize my work or stop and think. The computer feels too mechanical for a freewrite, so I understand how having it physically in front of you helps your inspiration.

  10. I’m with you Christina. I need the paper, the physical thing in my hand to stimulate my visual inspiration.
    At my husband’s suggestion, I recently converted to binders for my projects. It allows me to insert new material and move things around as my ideas develop. The binders aren’t as ‘pretty’ as journals, but the practicality of inserting and moving things around to match my thought process really works for me.

    1. That is actually a really great idea! I’m constantly flipping back and forth for that exact reason, some note I wrote 20 pages earlier needs moved up or back. I may have to try that method!

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