Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Happy Medium

Ah, the paper and pen: that duo is such a powerful and magnificent reverence to our literary past. So much so for me, that I used to write only long hand in the early days of my "authorship." It’s how I thought true writers really should write because in all honesty, there’s something to be said for feeling the words lick off the ink or lead, throwing caution to the wind, and getting those words out at which to marvel. But, this was erroneous thinking, and the error was believing it was the only way to write.

I changed my thinking about this a few years ago when writer’s block was having at it with me. I decided to sit at the computer and write something, anything, that didn’t have to do with what I was currently stuck in with my paper canvas. Lo and behold, after typing away and finding paragraphs and pages of quick, good material appear, I realized I was beginning to understand how people wrote books solely on the computer. It was remarkable. What I first thought to be boring and bleak really had an amazing advantage. The biggest one? Ideas entered the page within seconds on the PC, versus minutes with handwriting. Having written papers long hand in school for years, and then transferred to the computer as a final draft, I didn’t actually think of starting a project on the computer screen to begin with. Oh, woe is me ... and to think I had been showing my age too!

With either method of writing, using both allows me to change my medium for variation -- to change the scenery if I’m having an “off” day -- yet still supplies me with the same outcome: finished, written material.

If you could only choose one method for writing, would you feel short-changed? I didn’t think I was. I felt superior really; being able to grab what I wanted to say onto paper with my snobberish notebook-buying, pen-purchasing club-of-one. But that was absurd. Because today, I love writing on the computer. In fact, this essay was written wholly on Microsoft Word© and I’m extremely happy about it.

Yet, I must divulge the drudgery of computer writing as well. There are times, when a blank screen tears at my creative soul, leaving me as pale and wan as the screen itself. Somehow, that white and dismal virtual piece of paper has the power to suck the creative juices out of me; like an electrical vampire, leaving me lifeless ... and just plain dumb.

That’s when I revert to my precious paper notebooks and put the bleached pulp to my nose, watching the ink flow out of the tip of the pen like a waterfall over the proverbial writer’s block mountain, down to the river of words. Yes, old ways die very hard indeed.

So which one do I choose? I don’t. I use both. Here’s the moral: don’t choose one medium over another to create your masterpiece. Your canvas is workable utilizing both methods. What do I do when neither of these methods creates a work of art? I stop, close the notebook (the real or the electrical one) and set my writing aside. I use that time instead to read and absorb other people’s words, their style and flow. It still helps my writing, only I don’t have to do any actual typing or scribbling.

Are you stuck in a rut? Switch things up a bit. And don’t be afraid to try new ways to find your muse.

-Heather

5 comments:

  1. Great post! I remember the days of writing out an essay first and then typing it on the computer but I did eventually find it easier to do my rough draft on computer. I liken it to hand drafting and CAD drafting. Now that I'm used to drafting on the computer, it's harder for me to be as quick and creative by hand.

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  2. I really enjoyed this post because I used to feel the same way about pen and paper. It just seemed right. Then, of course, I moved on to the computer, but to be honest, I hadn't thought of interchanging the two should writer's block hit. It has, so I am going to try your suggestion. So funny how we get stuck in our methods. It doesn't have to be one way or the other! I love the way you use your words, too. Not one of them is wasted. Good stuff!

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  3. Bec, yes! It IS the same as hand drafting and CAD. But for me, there are times when I'm far more creative with pen and paper, and at other times, far more creative with the pc. Just depends on my mood, I suppose.

    Lori, glad to hear you feel the same! Isn't it strange how we get stuck with what we're used to? And may I thank you PROFUSELY for complimenting me. I want to cry now. No, really, I do. Thank you!

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  4. //What I first thought to be boring and bleak really had an amazing advantage.//

    This is so true. Right now I seem to be stuck on the computer for many reasons-- feedback, research at your fingertips, ease and more...but pen and paper was my first love too!

    No matter what we use, we just need to keep writing and not let anything get in the way...flexibility and adaptability to change is so important :)

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  5. Well said, Michelle.
    I think paper also allows for a way to transmit ideas immediately, when I'm not near a pc (which isn't often, these days).
    Thanks for reading!

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