03 November 2009

Pen. Paper. Poms.

I cannot write on a computer. *

I can REwrite on a computer - but I cannot get the thoughts to come out while staring blankly at the computer screen, its incessant low hum mocking my inability to bring fingers to keyboard.

But a first draft?  Nope.  Not happening.

There's a certain finality to drafting something on a computer, seeing everything perfectly legible, evenly spaced, and print-worthy (in appearance, not necessarily in content).  It scares me. 

I feel trapped by an inability to scribble incomprehensible jabberwocky in the margins.  Trapped by an inability to scratch, to scribble, to draw random cartoon characters in fits of frustration or boredom - when an poorly drawn pomeranian looks better than anything I'm currently writing.

Depending on levels of exhaustion and other variables, I sometimes feel the need - when typing on a computer - to take a sharpie and start drawing rabid pomeranians in the current word processor's virtual margins.

To stave off this desire and save money on new computer monitors, I kick it old school.  Pen.  Paper.  That first draft is unflinchingly mine.  It's in my handwriting.  It doesn't matter if it's any good - in fact, it makes the Hemingway tenet of "the first draft of everything is shit" that much easier to handle.

When it comes time to take my highly illegible "first draft" and turn it into a highly legible, properly spaced, pedantic blueprint of a house of flickery, I end up being able to read more critically.  I'm a visual person; length of paragraph, a single word or two is NOT visual enough of a difference or gauge of progress for me.  The difference between chicken scratched mounds of legal pads to the clean, sterile document of any word processor IS, on the other hand, an acute gauge of progress.

The draft entered into the computer is profoundly different - as making an attempt to read my own handwriting makes me look even harder at what I've written.  I find new things that I may have missed had I done various versions on the computer.

And I occasionally chuckle at the rabid pomeranians that fill the margins.

This brings tonight's random analysis of creative methodology to a close.

*Obviously, this blog and some of my other guest writings are notable exceptions.  I can prattle off random things left and right; however, the quality of those random things varies greatly.

*Brief Addendum, November 8, 2009 - An article at the Wall Street Journal website spurred a revelation, and a slightly more coherent and informative statement than the above.  I cannot write FICTION on a computer.  It has to be done by hand.  NON-FICTION, on the other hand, I prefer to type.  Go figure.


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