grab a pencil, Charlie Brown

In a favorite comic strip, Charlie Brown attempts to write to his pen pal (“Dear Pen pal,” he begins) but his pen splotches ink all over his page. In the final frame we see Chuck start again, this time with a different writing utensil. His letter now begins “Dear pencil pal,” and we presume he’s able to complete his letter with no further inconveniences. (Knowing this character, though, we might not be surprised if his pencil breaks in half, and he ends up finishing the letter with his blood, sweat, and tears.)

We’ve talked about setup before in our videos (see my writers’ group page in the sidebar) but sometimes our normal setup doesn’t work for a variety of reasons.

This week the keyboard on my Surface Pro 3 stopped working, a modern situation similar to that good ol’ blockhead’s ink problem. I had some time to write last night but I was too frustrated with using other keyboard solutions. Besides, writing on a computer keyboard usually also means I’m writing something I intend to publish, while last night I just needed to journal out my frustrations (while I write about authenticity a lot that does npt mean I need to pathologically spread my negative attitudes across the web while I’m having them). So not only did my objective change, but my setup changed, too. I grabbed that good ol’ pencil and a notebook and off I went.

Later on in the evening, calmed down enough to tolerate the frustrations (and backspace button excess) of typing on the tablet’s virtual keyboard rather than the magnetic, clip-on keyboard I prefer, I was able to come back to the computer to work on my next book outline, which I’ll use in a proposal.

The point is, we need different setups for different purposes. We also need backups and redundancies so that we have an outlet for creativity or activity of any kind. Instead of breaking the flow when things are not working, we need a backup plan. This doesn’t only relate to writers, but for backhoe operators, fitness fanatics, painters, dieting, dating your spouse, pretty much anything we have a personal dedication to doing regularly. What’s your plan B? What’s your version of a pencil? How will you get it done when you’re at your most frustrated state?