Sunday, March 15, 2015

Drafting it Longhand.

I'm having a lot of success right now drafting fiction longhand. That sounds counter intuitive, old school, too slow, annoying.

Well that might be so, but let me go over some of the benefits with you.

1. No internet distraction: This is crucial. I'm not tempted to check my facts on wikipedia, facebook, The Passive Voice, Dean Wesley Smith's site, etc...Think about how much time you waste dinking about on the webs. How often you break concentration to check email real quick. When I was in law school I was one of the few people to take all my notes by hand, computers are just too distracting. You get much more out of a lecture, you are much more engaged, less scattered, when writing by hand.

2. Creative engagement: Not everyone is like this but I'm more creative with pen and paper. I can draw and diagram things very easy and the act of writing engages the drawing parts of the brain. It's hard to describe. Just try it, it feels different. When I used to design boardgames and videogames (I still design boardgames) I would ALWAYS start with pen and paper. It's a far more visual medium so using a pen for drawing and such makes more sense there, sure, but I find myself drawing characters and maps and spaceships and what not when I'm writing. When I was typing before I'd have to stop to draw things, or fire up MS Paint and try to draw that way.

3. You can draw stuff: I've mentioned this above, but let's reiterate. You can draw things, sketch it out. That map at the front of Lord of the Rings, you can draw that for your own stories. This is a big plus for visual people but can help out everyone. If you are writing a Star Trek book wouldn't it be nice to have a sweet sketch of the bridge in there somewhere to help you draft the action. Yep.

4. Power forward...shut up editor voice!: If you've been writing for a bit you know that your internal editor is a relentless heckler. You can't shut him down completely but when handwriting you can't really go back and rejigger every other sentence. It feels more 'right' to just power through and fix it in post. When you are typing it into the computer THAT is when you can catch all of the misspellings and grammar stuff and typos, maybe fix the odd or awkward sentence here and there. Just this aspect of handwriting makes me more productive.

5. You aren't staring at a screen all freakin' day: You work on a screen, you play video games on a screen, you watch TV and movies and hell you might even read books on a screen. So many screen hours, doesn't it get annoying? Unplug man! It feels great.

Some might say that typing is so much faster, but it's not. Not for writing. Even a fast writer is only putting down about 20 words a minute. That's 1200 an hour. You can do that pretty easily handwriting. It is more physically demanding to hand write though, so there's that. And without the distraction inherent to a computer, without the redoing every other sentence, you end up going faster. Transcribing does take some time though, so there is that, but I use that time to edit myself. So the typed version is my 2nd or beta draft (my final draft before error checking).

I might get back to the computer to draft at some point, carpel tunnel will probably force me. Hopefully by then I'll have trained myself to stay off the webs and to quit going back over everything all the time. We'll see. For now I'm handwriting. You might try it and see how you do.

But what do I know, I only have one full length novel finished and I did that all on computer. My current work is going much more smoothly though, after being stuck for awhile writing to screen.

End Note: This applies to DRAFTING. As in the first draft of a long piece. For editing and fixing and what not a computer is awesome.

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