This page of the Kid A era version of radiohead.com, titled 'NIHILOCAPITALISM', contained a piece of text, that would later serve as a major source for the lyrics of the song:
paperbag advice.( to be stamped on the side of all
side A. Blow into this paperbag go home and stop grinning at
side B. If the boss sits there and accuses you of stealing, of
not having the right motivation,
dont just sit there and take it, hit the fucker in the face.
Two lines from the song can be found in the artwork of the Special Edition of Hail to the Thief:
In September 2002, Thom worked on the music in L.A., then the track was finished by the band after their return to England. The title, a wordplay, is a reference to the Beatles song 'Paperback Writer'.
A sample of a vocal bit that went unused in the final mix appeared in the Loophole section of radiohead.com in 2003 under the title 'R118':
'Paperbag Writer' was released as a b-side on the There There single.
On October 2nd 2009, the song had its live debut at the Echoplex in Los Angeles at the first gig of Thom's then unnamed band, consisting of himself, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco: