As an author, there are times I have a difficult time working through a plot point. Most of my writing process is done at the keyboard, letting stream of consciousness flow, but there are moments when I end up staring at my computer, waiting for that flash of brilliance. Those are the moments I pick up a pen and a pad of paper.
The first time I did that, it was to outline. I had a book that was going nowhere. No plot, just meandering aimlessly along, so I wanted to give it some direction. I sat down to write down the why and what and wherefore.
Another time, I was on my commute into the Big City on the train and I didn't want to pull out my computer. As silly as it sounds, putting my ideas to paper felt less permanent (in a world where you can delete on your computer without any muss or fuss).
As I've been working through the missing plot points on my current work, I realized something. For my part, when I sit down with pen and paper, it forces me to focus. What do I want to happen? What has to occur to get me to that point? What are the impacts? Like an outline, it gives me a direction to go. Generally, I write random thoughts (although I've been known to do that at my computer, as well, to give myself a road map). Too often when I'm at my computer, I can be distracted by other things. A message notification or that ebook I want to finish reading or all the other things that can take you out of the moment.
There's just something about writing something by hand, a deliberate action, that takes you out of the "what next" and lets you set ideas down to sort through. At least for me. It also helps to organize your thoughts, much like when you need to make a presentation and you can't decide which point to address first. The "spoke" method helps resolve that issue, write all the points on spokes of a wheel, and once you get them all down, it's much easier to sort through what comes first.
As a reminder - for those of you who live in Illinois, I'm going to be at the Schaumburg library on Saturday. I hope you'll stop in and say hello!