In the nine years I’ve been writing, I have gone back and forth from handwriting to typing on a computer and back again quite a few times. My shaking things up from time to time comes from a need to keep my Inner Critic’s eye sharp. I know in previous posts, the Inner Critic has played the role as foe, but he is also responsible for editing after my imagination has done its job creating. He is the voice of reason, who tells me what I need to cut and why. I need to prevent myself from becoming too accustomed to one method of writing. If I do, then staying in my comfort zone will be at the expense of my story.
There are two primary methods of writing. I am not talking about methods of telling story or creation but methods of literally forming words, sentences, chapters. They are, if you could not already tell, writing by hand with pen/pencil and paper or writing by keyboard and computer. There are many benefits to both. Yet I believe there should be a time to do them, so I can get the best story development they offer.
I would like to start with writing by computer, even though I think it’s what you should do after handwriting. I know there is great irony here because I am writing this post via laptop, but there is a bit of a difference between blog writing and story writing. Don’t you think? Blogs are based more on reason and simplicity, whereas fiction deals more with creative fluidity and embracing spontaneity. Writing with a computer is time saving. I’ll give it that. It’s so much quicker if you happen to be in a rush. I don’t know why you would be. If you want to write a quality story, rushing, from my experience, is not the way to do it. The computer holds more distraction than with paper. Whenever I see that little green or red squiggly line under a word or phrase I want to shoot the screen BECAUSE IT’S NOT A SENTENCE FRAGMENT! IT’S DIALOGUE! I want to eliminate that squiggly line from memory as soon as I see it, preventing me from continuing. There’s also the matter of the World Wide Web at my fingertips. Though I may use it to look up facts or words for the story, often times I go to other not so relevant sites which feed the beast of procrastination.
Where hand writing is concerned, there is a simple high to be had when I’m on a roll, in the midst of the characters, when my hand skates across the page with ease. I can see myself, a physical part of me forming words, sentences, chapters. The connection between me and the creation is much more present when actually shaping the letters instead of pressing keys on a computer. I feel like the work is more of an extension of myself when hand writing. I’m the one writing, not a machine. What is more, unlike on a computer, if I make a mistake or want to get rid of a word, I simply cross it out. I don’t have to erase it from memory. When I look back, I can see where I went wrong, and why I changed it. I can’t get that same learning effect from a word processor. Yes, I may make spelling or grammatical errors, and not know I have, until I type it. But that is a minor flaw in a system that we have used for thousands of years before computers.
I go to the trouble of mentioning this because in my composition of Project Stripes, I have (to some more modern writers) regressed into the old ways of hand writing after months of seeing the story by the hand of Microsoft Word. This comes at a time when I pretty much am writing a whole new story to the ones that followed this draft. I knew there were problems with the story, and I think I have finally found the solutions to them. It is fitting, then, that I have decided to write the book by hand again, referring to the version on my computer for guidance. It’s going to take a little longer, but I think the process will be much more rewarding when I do re-type it.
Already, I feel more confident with the changes. I am sure it has a bit to do with basic fact I am using a pen. It may be hard to believe from reading this, but hand writing makes it seem more okay to make mistakes or to write rubbish when starting a new story. There’s not as much pressure to get it right the first time; it’s already an impossible task anyway (which sucks, I know). If I was typing this new version of Project Stripes, I would have a much harder time seeing past the perfectly formed letters to know where the alterations needed to occur. If you have trouble understanding this, I challenge you to toy with either of these methods of writing. The mere change of pace for you might do you more good than you anticipated.