I’m three chapters in to my newest novel, completely hand written. My wrist is killing me, my fingers are sore, but you know what?
I’m okay with it.
Honestly, my wrist stops hurting if I just stop writing and go do something else for about twenty minutes. My fingers are getting used to it, so long as I take breaks. I hold the pen with the iron grip of anger anyway, and have to learn to relax and ease up. That will help my wrist, as well.
So does switching pens now and then. I think through the course of these three chapters, I’ve used four different pens. All black ink, because I’m a black ink sort of person, but various tips and types. Today, for instance, I’m using a Papermate Liquid Flare, extra fine tip. It’s a cheap pen, but really comfortable to use.
Each time I start out, my penmanship is pretty good, readable and not too wonky, but as the page progresses, my penmanship notably digresses. By the end of each piece of college ruled paper, it’s pretty scribbly.
But I’ll tell you one thing – – writing by hand makes you give serious thought to each sentence, each paragraph, and really concentrate on the NOW, not the next scene or the chapter following this. Although as a writer, I can see the novel as a whole, while I’m writing I’m completely in the moment. Nothing matters but the words I’m writing just then, nothing exists further ahead than the sentence I’m on.
Writing by computer can so easily make a writer hurry, and rush through important scenes in a mad dash to get to the next important scene. I think that’s where the ridiculous notion of “write a million words of shit, you can always delete later” comes from.
What a waste of time. Why take the time out of your busy life, while you’re struggling to find time to write amidst chores, kids, work, spouse, errands and life, to write down crap you fully intend to delete later?
You know, another reason I write with a pen is so I can’t erase anything. I hate seeing lines crossed through mistakes, whenever that happens it irks me until I can get beyond that page and go to another. I hate it. Writers using a computer could do themselves a favor, if they resolutely refuse to walk away from the computer – Remove your delete key.
Just pull it right up, set it aside for when you’re balancing your checkbook or editing that scathing email. And while you’re at it, pull off that Backspace key, because I know you’re all thinking “Okay, fine, I won’t delete, but I can backspace and type over what I don’t like.”
Just. Do. It.
I admit, this morning my wrist started hurting right in the middle of a good scene. I was anxious to get down another six or eight paragraphs, and my fingers were screaming at me. I told Pete that maybe, just maybe, it’d be okay to use the computer for a while, and only hand write half the novel.
He reminded me who else did things half way – HITLER. That’s right, Hitler did things half-assed. I’m sure lurkers supported him in email, which was odd, since he and I were emailing that conversation. /old forum references
Anyway, I didn’t. I set the papers aside, did something else for an hour, then went back to it with renewed vigor. And you know what? My scene was better off for it.
Get a pen.