Friday, March 23, 2012

Gentlemen Prefer Long

I was complaining to one of my writing pals ever about this blog, and why I'm so awful at it. He suggested this topic, so I thank him and please send your blames to him.

All my life I've writte
n. Like most kids, I'd grab some paper from school and a nice pencil (mechanical- still my favorite writing utensil) and just write whatever sugar-powered thoughts flooded out of my unusually large head. The thing is... that hasn't much changed. I was born in 1983, putting me smack in the "Computers For Everyone!" boon. I started taking typing classes in the second grade, and I love the bright green blinking "turtle" and the weird Texas Instrument computers. I really did dig computers- especially the one with the Home Alone game on it- but my heart seemed to remain on page.

I would do school reports o
n the computer, but my dumb little stories remained written out in long hand. I still press too hard when I write, and usually end up with a cramp in my thumb muscle. That cramp is tied to writing to me on a molecular level, and I almost feel like I'm just playing at writing when I get up from a keyboard and my fingers don't feel like they've been through low-grade torture.

So today, as an old lady, my process seems a bit archaic. First, I get an idea. Then I grab any random scrap of paper I can find, and write it down immediately. They usually look something like this:

Fat Fi
ngers Crawford and the final exit.

I retur
n to the page later, and do my very best to decipher it- with varying degree of success.

If I thi
nk the idea is doable, I continue scribbling. If I had a beginning, I, er... begin there. Random scenes? Alright, I'll furiously transcribe those. The whole point is just to get everything down as fast as humanly possible. I think very quickly, which is paired with a memory that should be paired with someone who drinks far more than I ever can.

An actual story I'm currently writing. Oh, like your handwriting is so great?

never works for me on the robot box, as it seems like one more separation between myself and my ideas (Am I aware this makes no sense? Absolutely!) and the internet just sucks me in with flashing lights and tends to eat my attempt at original thought. I also seem to have my "voice" come through a bit easier when I start out on paper. That is very, very important to me.

ntually I do have to transfer my crazy longhand papers to the computer. While this adds a bit more work, I ADORE it. It adds another step of self-editing for me, and I catch so much. I also feed off having everything I wrote but ALSO having it look brand new on the screen- the combo of content and "new shit" excitement keeps me typing out more and more paragraphs.

It's also easy to get chai
ned to your computer and feel more stressed about writing than passionate. With just you, a pen and some paper you can pretty much sit anywhere and it feels "real." Sometimes I'll find a random vacant parking lot, listen to some music and just write out whatever comes to me until it's time to watch the sunset.

My only real recommendation is find out what you prefer to write with and on right away- nothing will piss you off quicker than a crap pen. Gel pens are usually solid gold with me. Happy writing!


  1. Awesome! Thank you for the look into your writing process... I used to fill black & white marble composition books and I had to have a particular Pilot Pen. I finally gave up and use the computer. Love your stuff, Stef ;)

    1. Thanks so much, Bryan! Eh, sane people use the computer but I do hope you kept those composition books.

  2. A fine post.

    For the most part, I write on my laptop. Certain projects though, well, they just need to be written on paper. It feels more intimate, I think. And like you said, going back and typing your hand-written stuff is a great way to edit your work as you go.

    I see you're a fan of mechanical pencils. I picked up this baby a few weeks ago, and I must admit that it's the best pencil I've ever owned (if not the most expensive):

    Highly recommended, so far as pencils go.


  3. Your handwriting kicks my handwriting's ass. I mean that literally. My handwriting has an actually derriere that your handwriting grows feet in order to assault. That or I just like using the word "literally" literally.

    I do enjoy handwriting, especially with a good pen. Being left-handed, I tend to shy away from smeary, smeary pencils (and have to find pens with fast-drying ink). My biggest problem, though, is that when I get excited and start writing fast, my hand writing becomes even less legible than normal. It's actually kind of fun to watch, though: the progression is usually legible - mostly legible - barely legible - squiggly line with the occasional bump.

    And since my mind also does... that thing... where it can't... what was I talking about? Oh right. Yeah, I have to write fast or it all goes bye bye. So writing on a computer is definitely good for that. Plus, I tend to go back and rewrite and add things as I go (which may or may not be a good thing), and a computer helps me from ending up with a page that looks like it came out of a schizophrenic serial killer's manifesto journal.

  4. Just discovered your blog, and have to say it's a great one so far. Good enough for me to pass the Liebster Blog award on to you. More deets on my blog, should you choose to pass it along. In any case, it's my endorsement of some interesting and entertaining reading.

    And yea, I have a notebook by the bed. It's been there since the 1980's. It'll probably be there for centuries, as I don't plan on leaving this mortal coil anytime soon. It's gonna be a pretty moth-eared notebook by the time it's retired.

    1. Thanks so much, Jonathan, I really appreciate it! :)

      Having a notebook handy is essential, but so often I wish I had a recorder- sometimes being half awake is enough to keep me from actually making the effort to write something.

  5. I've also tried the ol' laptop by the bed trick, where I can grab it and churn out 500-ish words of inspiration when they hit. That works decently too.