Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


A Writer's Toolbox

I'm an experimenter. I love to try different ways of writing, different locations, different situations, different implements. Generally, I write my weblog entries into my pocket-sized paper notebook. That's right, my high-tech journal is nothing more than a transcription of my real, pencil and paper journal. For my longer writing projects, I tend to use my portable Underwood typewriter. If my writing desk isn't piled high with clothes that haven't been put away yet and other things people tend to just dump on it, I use my desktop Underwood #5.

I really love my Underwood typewriters. My portable is almost 70 years old and my desktop is over 80. I tend to spend entirely too much time rewriting sentences and paragraphs when I write on a computer. Paper forces me to commit. I leave the editing to the editing process. Right now, I'm using this older laptop I got from work. The batteries are essentially worthless. It has to stay plugged in whenever I'm using it. But writing implements are not what prompted me to blog tonight. My writing style while using each implement tends to be drastically different.

You wouldn't think that using a pencil and paper would change the essence of your sentences. An Underwood, objectively speaking, shouldn't alter the tone of the writer's voice. A word-processor shouldn't make the same writer spew eight bland, unemotional sentences for every two good ones.

I haven't pinpointed the exact alignment of celestial bodies that makes me feel much better about the writing that comes from my stubby pencil (which I have to break off to make fit inside my notebook) and paper. In general, I am more morose in tone and use more complicated phrases; I also tend to be more obtuse on paper than on LCD screen.
When I first noticed this difference in writing style, I tried to eliminate it--or at least make it less obvious. Now I try to harness these nuances of style depending on my purpose. If I intend to bring the reader into my world through vivid imagery, I'll start with pencil and paper, then transcribe that into the computer at a later date. When time is limited, I'll use the typewriter. I can produce twice as much writing on a typewriter than on a computer. This was wonderful for me when I worked in a factory. I'd bring my portable Underwood to write with on breaks.

Since technology doesn't fascinate me anymore, the computer is usually the last stop. When it's time for posting to the weblog, printing out a manuscript to submit for publication, or just to edit or rewrite, then I'll retype everything into the computer. This retying gives me an opportunity to reevaluate every single word I've penned and has become an important part of the writing process for me. My edits have become less time-consuming and I have a more objective opinion of what I write instead of losing those words forever when I hit the delete key.

In the end, the goal is to produce. As long as you are improving as a writer and are able to produce something consistently and at a consistent quality, then your writing implement of choice is just that: your choice.


At 6/20/2004 07:08:00 PM, Blogger Michele said...

I'm so glad you shared about your process. Mine is a bit different, and yet similar. My mood dictates which medium I will use to create, pen/paper or technical eqpt. Sometimes a thought or an overheard phrase or sentence will start the creative juices/thoughts rolling. I'll turn it over in my head to see where it lead. I'll also write it down on whatever's handy: pda, appt book, a scrap piece of paper. I once started a poem on the back of an electric bill envelope.

But for me the computer is the final place for final edits, rewrites and final prints. I suffer from carpel tunnel so I have to be careful with the re-write process.

Still, thanks, I always enjoy reading other writers' process.


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