We've got a very exciting Misfits first this morning - that's right, it's our very first guest post!! Please welcome Friend of Misfits Becca Weston to YAMF and make sure you show her some love for boldly going where no non-Misfit has gone before ;)
[First off: A big thank you to all the Misfits for letting me put some of my ramblings on their fabulous site!]
I'm on the computer a lot. I mean, A LOT. Five days a week, I'm at work, editing and proofreading on double monitors for eight or nine hours. After dinner, I'm on my laptop, emailing or drafting or revising or (more often than not) tweeting.
And hey, that's cool. I love computers. I've been a fan ever since we got our first family PC when I was just a kid.
But not too long ago, I was driving home from work, and my eyes were so tired that the idea of hopping on my laptop was PAINFUL. I had several scenes I needed to draft, but I couldn't bear the thought of looking at that glowing screen.
So I stopped by a Walgreens, picked up some nice pens and a giant 5-subject notebook, and I drafted the rest of the book the old-fashioned way. Just curled up with a paper and pen, scribbling messily away even as my fingers started to cramp.
I LOVED IT. Yeah, it was slower-going than if I had been typing, but in a lot of ways, it was freeing. Nostalgic, even. I used to write all of my fanfiction and epic fantasy novels (they were terrible, don't ask) longhand, and going back to that method felt like reconnecting with 15-year-old me, aspiring, idealistic, tucked into corners of the school auditorium, frantically jotting down scenes during musical practices.
In fact, I'm thinking that longhand might be the best way for me to draft in the future for a couple of distinct reasons:
1) No distractions
I've tried Write or Die. I've tried turning my WiFi off. I haven't tried Freedom yet, but that's not the point. The point is that as soon as I open up my laptop, I'm distracted. This blog post, that television recap, this article... Heaven help me if I hit The Mary Sue or iO9 because then I'm really lost. There are just too many videos of adorable animals and too many excuses to "just take a quick mental break" that ends up becoming a half an hour or an hour. With the notebook, I don't even need to touch my laptop, so there's no chance to get sucked in. And I can curl up anywhere, anytime. No need to worry about a desk or a powercord.
2) Perfectionism is impossible
It can take me forever to get a first draft done. I write a sentence, delete it, rewrite it, tweak it, fuss a little more. I mean, I can get hung up on a paragraph for hours without making any forward progress on getting the freaking story on the page. The cleanliness of a Scivener text card or Word doc just feeds into my perfectionism. But I never had this problem in high school, when all my story dreams were being touted around on a notebook inside my bag, because it’s almost impossible for me to achieve perfectionism with a pen and paper. I scribble. I write things out of order and just draw swooping arrows to where they’re supposed to go. I thought-vomit onto the page because, hell, it’s messy anyway. “It’s okay,” I tell myself, “you can fix it when you put it onto the computer.” This is how first drafts SHOULD go — with wild abandon — but I can never achieve it with a keyboard and screen.
Now, of course, old-fashioned longhand is not going to work for everyone, and it doesn’t always work for me either. (30-year-old me gets achy fingers a lot quicker than 15-year-old me.) But if you struggle with focus and perfectionism, stepping away from the computer screen could be a nice change of pace. These days we read a mix of ebooks and paper books; why can't we write in a mix of electronic and paper mediums as well?
What do you guys think? Do you ever write longhand? Or do you think I'm a crazy person who needs to go sit in a corner?
http://www.twitter.com/callmebecks] or ranting and raving on her blog, [http://beccaweston.wordpress.com].