Friday, August 10, 2007

A Question of Medium

I've found something out recently - because I haven't been home much to do my writing on my laptop, I've been resorting to the old-fashioned notebooks-and-pens method. Ever since I got my laptop, the writer's callous on my right middle finger's shrunk, because I've been typing more of my stories because I've always felt it's been faster.

But I've come to realize that I just might write more if I write it first on paper, and then on laptop. Who'da thunk, right? Well, the largest piece I ever wrote - my terribly cheesy first novel The Shining Empress - started out as a huge binder of scribbled looseleaf before I took it over and translated it onto my laptop. I always thought that writing on the laptop was faster, so I think I started to limit my writing to my laptop.

For instance, if I was on the bus and had an idea, I wouldn't write it down - I'd save it for the laptop. Same if I was at work or at school. I also didn't write if the laptop wasn't working, or if it was too much trouble for my lazy sensibilities to carry it up from the basement or down from my bedroom, or if I just couldn't be bothered to wait the two minutes it takes for it to fully boot-up. I had no idea how much it hampered my writing.

Plus, I come up with more when I write in a notebook. When I write on the laptop, I'm writing a story on a machine that's carrying dozens of my old stories at the touch of my fingertips, so I'm always tempted to stop writing and re-read, or stop my current writing and re-read what I've written. And then I discover I've spent an hour writing only a few paragraphs. That's not so bad when I write in a notebook, because I have to turn so many pages I don't bother.

And yes, while I write slower when I'm physically penning words, I think it helps my writing. When I'm on my laptop, I write at about 80 words per minute - and it's almost too fast for my ideas to catch up, so I'll write about a paragraph and just go blank for a minute or two while I scramble to think about something else to write. When I'm writing in a notebook, I have lovely, curving handwriting, so it's fun and my ideas come to me naturally so I don't have to pause nearly so often.

Since I've started writing in my notebook, I've written much more regularly than before. So I guess that's how I learn. I'll write in my notebook, and then translate it onto my computer. Plus - it's much more secure. If I drop my laptop off a cliff, there are at least five stories that were born on that machine and have no backups except on disks, but my novel and my screenplay and my short story "The Middle Child" are all in books.

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