Thursday, March 1, 2012

On The Mechanics of Writing

Instead of the post I intended to write, continuing my quest to define this genre I write in, I'm giving you this one: a thing about why I write longhand. It's because I haven't had enough sleep, and I have to teach later, so my brain is a bit rambling.

I once wrote an article about longhand versus typing for composing creative writing. It presented both sides of the issue (if you can call it an issue), and had examples from actual writers that people have heard of, and it was all very neat and organized. This one is going to be less organized (and mercifully not as long) and is not about other writers at all, but only about me.

So, a confession: I write longhand.

Actually that's not entirely true. I freelance a variety of non-fictional stuff as my "dayjob" and that I pretty much always type right into a word processor, though I may make longhand notes. And some of my fiction I do compose on my computer, in Word, or more recently in Scrivener (if you write, you should get the trial version and check it out). But writing as Nic Silver, I compose longhand.

I've thought a lot about why (I think, a lot, which is why I often don't have enough sleep--my brain just won't shut off). I don't really write any differently when I write longhand, and I don't really write any better. I could argue that the longhand version is a draft, and then I'm sort of doing a not-quite-second draft as I transcribe, which improves the flow a little and lets mecorrect minor problems as I go. And that would be true.

But it's not the real reason. The real reason I compose longhand is much simpler. It's less precious. And it's easier to get myself to curl up on the couch with a notebook and pen at the end of the day than it is to sit for another couple of hours at the computer.

Yes, I still have to do the sitting at the computer later, but by then I have something I'm excited about, and I want to know how many words I've actually written, so it's not that hard to get myself to work.

But some days, no matter how much I love writing, I just don't want to face the blank page. But scribbling in a dollar-store notebook while sipping tea with my cat purring at my feet is relaxing.

Plus, I write a lot faster longhand than I type, and most of the time it's hard enough to keep up with the story as it is.

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