So how do you get your words down? In the Sept. 5 edition of WriteON we asked:
Do you write on a computer? Typewriter? Using pen and paper? Why do you prefer the mode of writing you use? What are the problems you experience when you try to write any other way?
From a member who requested anonymity –
My mode of writing, if it is a creative project, is to start a new project with pen, paper, and a legal pad. I do a really rough idea outline. Then I take this to the computer using it like an idea spring board entering the data plus additions that come while transferring the words into my computer. From here I simply use the computer to cut, paste, revise etc. I usually save as by date and title as I move forward.
However if it is a short piece or article I use the computer only, the problems I encounter using the computer only is the initial draft is more choppy and redundant and often takes longer than it should.
Sometimes I write text by hand. Mostly things like poetry if I happen to be out and about, or a short descriptive piece. When I am blocking out elements for a longer work, such as character traits and possible plot lines, or doing research, I find handwriting allows my thoughts to flow more coherently, and I tend to retain the material better. However, when I begin a longer piece of writing, I park myself at the computer. The ease of typing, correcting typos, and editing blocks of text allows my thoughts to flow and lets me get much more done than when I write by hand, not to mention it saves me from hand cramps. A welcome side effect of using the computer is that I don’t smudge the work the way I do in handwriting—because I’m left-handed, and in North America we write from left to right. Words get smudged and smeared as my hand and arm move across the paper. No matter the angle I might turn the page at, the copy is never clean.
I keep a clipboard, paper, and flashlight pen under my pillow, to record my dreams. But when I wake up, it’s usually gibberish.
I find myself devolving with each project. When I started my writing journey, I would make rough notes of my direction and then type everything into my laptop faithfully saving to disc every few chapters. Other than the notes for direction on my rudderless ship, nothing was hand written.
Next I began to write first drafts in long-hand and then would type my material into my laptop editing some sections but not all. I called this input “draft 1.5”.
Now I use long hand for several drafts and then input the material after three or four go arounds. I like the feel of pen on paper as I create. I need a fast moving pen: Uniball, Optiflows, expensive pens but my writing is worth this small expense in the big picture. My paper is a 80 page notebook from Hilroy that I pick up at Staples every August at $0.05 per book. Expensive pens and cheap paper. It balances out.
Everything changes for me. Maybe next week I’ll change my pattern and be back on the laptop.
My advice is to use and do what works and opens you up to your creative process.
The short answer is pen and paper, then computer. However, I find setting and process equally integral.
Whenever I imagine myself as a writer, I’m at my roll-top desk, ensconced in my mother’s dilapidated upholstered armchair. My husband built the desk for me thirty-four years ago, and indeed, I spent countless happy hours there earlier in our married life, while babies slept and housework waited, and when those same babies morphed into teenagers and trudged off to high school. But my beloved desk is stuffed to bursting now with memories, among other things, its writing surface hidden.
These days each of my short stories, all about my memories, actually birth through notes on bits of scrap paper, often scribbled while I perch on a vinyl-covered chair at our arborite kitchen table. Table and chair are more than half a century old, the upholstered chair considerably older, and all three were inherited from my childhood home.
Once I’ve collected a pocketful of notes, I sink into my husband’s comfy leather armchair about 9 a.m. of a random morning while he’s at work. By noon I surface with a first draft.
The first marathon computer session follows; I type (ineptly) slouched in a clone of the creaky oaken office chair my father acquired second-hand many decades ago.
Succeeding 3-hour morning stints, once or twice a week, find me back in that leather armchair with my pen, reworking the second… tenth… thirtieth drafts. And in between each draft, I stare at the screen for hours at a time as my bottom grows numb and feet cold, endless deleting, expanding, re-arranging, until each day’s final precious save.
How do I get the words down? The right ones take me days, weeks, months, and sometimes years. Write, read, re-write, type, print-out, repeat…