The other day I decided to comment on a blog post written by David Cranmer. It wasn't much of a post, as it was basically a nifty little update on what he was doing for writing projects, followed by the every popular question of, "So, what are you working on?"
I decided to chime in with one of my uniquely strange comments before continuing on with the rest of my blog reading journey. I came back the next day to see what kind of response David had left and although it was a thoughtful and pleasant comment, unbeknownst to David, it managed to strike a small nerve.
I want to make it clear to everyone that I hold David 100% blameless for what I'm about to write for a post. He is a fantastic person that I have the absolute respect for, and more often than not, he can get you to think and look at a particular issue in completely different light than what you're used to.
Anyways, his response struck a nerve (I have a bad tendency to read deeper into things than I should) and really got me to thinking about why I write more than 85% of my fiction/blog posts by hand before transferring to the computer. I have previously mentioned that I write my stuff by hand because I have a medical condition that has (and continues to) wreck havoc on my hands. I make no bones about this and sometimes I come off super aggressive (or anal, your choice) when I state this preference. And I'm sure that when I make that reiteration, people roll their eyes and say to themselves, "Not again."
So after turning this question over in my head for about a week and looking at it from all possible directions, I figured out the other reason as to why I write the bulk of my stuff by hand first before slapping it on the computer.
Writing by hand forces me to concentrate, to focus, to take my time, to make sure that what I'm saying actually makes sense. For those of you who probably don't know this (which is probably everyone), I was diagnosed many decades ago as being "hyperactive" (read: ADD). And just like with today's unimaginative and unmotivated medical community, I was drugged out in order to conform to the norms of the times.
I won't bother with giving you my opinion on the various side effects of unchecked ADD, but I will state that as an adult, I have learned to develop tunnel vision as it applies to certain things in my life.
Early on in my writing career, I had a knack of doing multiple projects at the same time, mostly for a need to stay busy. However, being a jack of all trades in writing usually means being a master of none. So I spent the last few years being the master of a few in my own unique way. Which meant focusing on one story at a time and one blog post at a time.
Even when I was going through that punishing phase in 2009 writing 45+ pieces of short fiction in the span of six month, I concentrated on one story at a time, no matter how long a story took to write.
Which is why I'm loathe to start a story, of any kind, before I finish whatever current piece of prose I'm writing. My slush pile is littered with all kinds of incomplete stories simply because I allowed myself to be sidetracked from one project to another.
So writing stuff by hand allows me both the freedom to be extremely creative and tightly focused at the same time. I'll round out this post by giving you an example of this philosophy in action.
I became stuck for about a couple of weeks on my latest project simply because I had no idea on where I wanted (or needed) to go. I would open up a blank document and literally vapor lock while thinking.
So one part of the solution to that problem was to take my current project and separate the chapters according to the two official plot lines being written. This allowed me to easily focus on each plot line without either losing sight of the overall picture or getting lost in the process.
The other part of the solution was to write the rough draft by hand. Which meant moving my ass outside to write. Outdoors allows me the freedom to let my mind wander all over the place until it latches onto an idea worth pursuing. In this case, I took the idea and I'm currently running all over the manuscript with it.
It has allowed me not only to move forward with the book, but it has allowed me the flexibility to use the same idea and custom design it for each plot line.
We all need it for whatever our chosen endeavor may be.
Some of us just happen to apply it in ways that make people who witness it sadly shake their head as they walk away mumbling under their breath.