I’ve always preferred typing my first drafts.
It’s almost inevitable that a work of written word will be typed at some point in order to be shared with the world. Whether it’s posted online, published as an ebook or emailed to an editor, if you’re planning on sharing your writing in this digital age, you’ll probably need it to be typed. And, as a child of the digital age, I’ve embraced that almost innately. But that doesn’t mean that the first lines of your masterpiece necessarily have to follow a blinking cursor.
There’s something so much purer and so much more romantic about putting your words down with deliberate strokes of smooth black ink on a crisp white sheet of notebook paper. Parts of the first novel I ever finished are scattered throughout old five-subject notebooks somewhere in my closet. It’s fun sometimes to be able to glance back through them and remember the lines that I should have kept and applaud myself upon discovering horrible sentences that didn’t appear in my final draft. But most of that novel was written in Microsoft Word anyway because writing a manuscript by hand is just too time consuming. As magical as it felt to create with the tactile sense of good old-fashioned pen and paper, it got to the point where the thought of writing more than a chapter by hand made me want to chuck the whole notebook in the shredder.
My problem these days is that I don’t have as much time to sit around typing as I used to (or, more accurately, I don’t make as much time). It seems that my most creative moments come when I’m doing repetitive daily tasks that don’t afford me access to a computer and require the use of my hands anyway (usually when I’m showering or driving). So I’ve tried to embrace more technology.
For example, I’ve tried using my smart phone as a secret weapon. I’ve dictated a few blog posts using my android’s speech-to-text capabilities. The precise wording comes out pretty rough and cluttered with lots of ums. And the prose is horribly afflicted by my tendency to go back halfway through a sentence and reword it on the fly. But it’s much quicker work to change what I said into what I meant than to sit down at the computer to do the whole thing from scratch. I’ve also written a few posts of The New Devil by recording my voice Dictaphone-style and transcribing it next time I have my laptop with me. It’s not my habit to do it that way, but it comes in handy from time to time.
I continue to look for new ways for me to get my words from my head into a digestible format. I’d also be interested in hearing from others (especially the indie authors and the writers who are just starting out) about the mechanics of your writing process. How do you write? What methods do you use to maximize the speed and ease of your flow? And what steps have you taken to spur your process during times when your brain is idle but your fingers are not?
Because I know I could use a better way to write.