Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Long(hand) and the Short of It

This is how I write:

I scrawl everything into a cheap notebook (I go through them like a kid through candy, so I don't bother buying the cute ones with Sanrio characters on them; if you hit the post- Back to School Sales period at Target you can get ten for 50 cents).

I have this sprawly huge handwriting so I have to use college-ruled notebooks or shit just goes crazy, as you can see in the above picture of my latest, non-college-ruled notebook.

After I finish writing a rough draft, I transcribe it into my laptop. I hate transcribing. I have this repetitive motion injury in my shoulder from typing at work (and um, surfing the web) so after about ten minutes I have this line of pure fire etched around my shoulder blade. I never really learned to type properly either, so I type with two fingers on each hand and make lots of mistakes that I have to go back and fix. But I can't hire anyone else to transcribe for me, because when I am turning my scratched-out squiggles into neat Calibri words, I also tweak and change things- usually small things, but still. This is my first revision.

After it's all typed up, I print it off, stuff it in a drawer for a week or two, and then go back and revise again. Then I print up the revision, stuff it in the same drawer for a week or two, and do my third revision. And then, finally, I am finished.

Not many people write longhand anymore. It does tend to slow you down, but I think it is only a very small part of why I am a slow writer (having a toddler and being easily distracted are the main obstacles). My problem is that I simply can't write at a computer. I can sit in front of a screen for an hour and nothing will come out. I can take a notebook and have twenty pages scribbled in the same hour. It must be some sort of psychological block.

Longhand works well for me. I feel like having to write everything by hand forces me to slow down and focus. I think I revise less than other writers who go directly to the computer (or iPad, or whatever) simply because I spent more time on the original draft (I revise a LOT; it just seems to me that other writers I know do it more).

So I don't resent my inability to talk to a machine. I just prefer talking to paper. There's nothing wrong with however you do it, as long as you keep writing, always.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a writer like you, but I just love the feel of writing things out with pen and paper.