Get Writing… In a Notebook

Right?!  Who would have thought!

You guys know I’ve been having some trouble getting myself back in the writing-saddle, as it were, but I’ve been trying really hard.  I sit at my computer, get my music going, and I eke out a few words in the part where I’m stuck.  Finally, desperate to get SOMETHING, I resorted to something I haven’t done–writing scenes from future parts instead of going linearly.

That helped a bit, but then I ran into those darned fight scenes and was still having lots of trouble, mostly because I just didn’t have any faith in what I was writing.  (I posted on FB a bit ago about how sometimes when I’m writing I feel like a monkey pounding on keys, and sometimes I feel brilliant. These were definitely more monkey-times, according to my vicious inner-editor.)

So when I went to fly out to Marquette for my friend’s wedding, I didn’t have a lot of hope.  I wasn’t going to have my computer anyway, and I would be busy while I was gone, so there went my productivity down the toilet, right?  I got situated in my seat on the flight to Detroit, reached in my bag to grab my book, and pulled out…  my notebook.

It won’t hurt to just try, I thought to myself as I dug around for a pen and flipped to where I’d left off–not even an empty page, because I hate empty pages–and started writing.  Instead of the fight scenes I decided I would go for the first chapter AFTER the fighting and see what happened.  To my surprise, the writing went smoothly.  Except for a few times when I had to shake out a cramp in my hand, or had to put my tray-table back up, the ink flow hardly stopped.  The slow speed of my handwriting meant that my brain couldn’t get inundated with words–they had to be more succinct, more to-the-point.  And they trudged along, slow but sturdy, like little soldiers.

When the short 20-minute hop to Detroit was done I was just getting started.

Writing in that  notebook led to unexpected places.  I wrote about 4000 words on all my flights combined, there and back.  It doesn’t SOUND like a lot, when you consider how much faster I could type it, but then, I know I wouldn’t have gotten as much done at the computer, so it all evens out.

Even my inner-editor seemed quiet, tricked into taking a breather.  It could have been the fact that I was tired, or the unfamiliar area, but I think that my brain saw I was writing in a notebook and said ‘Oh, that doesn’t count–it’s practically a journal entry!’ and shut her mouth.  Whatever it was, I was grateful for it.  This is the first draft dang it–I’m not going for perfection, just word count!

Now this idea isn’t TOTALLY foreign to me.  I know of lots of writers, some amateur and some published, who swear by writing in notebooks and journals.  Is it as fast?  Probably not.  But unless you’re a big-name on deadline for a book with an 8-digit advance, probably your writing isn’t supposed to be a race.

So, if you find yourself stuck, or you just can’t bring yourself to go through all the tiresome motions of sitting down to write, try to trick yourself.  Pull out a notebook, pick a section that isn’t necessarily directly attached to what you were writing before, and start writing by hand, one word at a time.  You can do it literally anywhere, unrestrained by the necessity of an outlet or cord-length.  Curled up in a garden, on a plane, or sitting in your car before work.  You can set it aside just as easily, without the hassle of saving or shutting down your computer.  And sure, at some point you’ll have to type it up, but that should be a breeze.  (I wrote mine quickly, without looking up, with fake nails on.  Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to how many typos there probably are?  Yikes.)

Writing, like most things, has evolved with the advancement of new technologies.  How you write it, submit it, publish it–that’s all more dependent on computers now. And I get it!  Here I am, blogging about writing, on my computer, etc and so forth.  And yet, sometimes it’s good to go back to basics.  To feel that pen in your hand, or pencil, and touch the smoothness (or roughness) of the paper under your palm.  To indulge in our writerly affection for office supplies.  (I’m not the only one, right??)

So what are YOU waiting for?  Get writing!


4 thoughts on “Get Writing… In a Notebook

  1. I love this.

    And I completely agree. I’m convinced the only reason I actually completed NaNo last summer was because I wrote by hand. No wifi signal, no distracting Facebook, no dying batteries… Going old-school was (and is!) a good choice. And it makes me happy that in a world where everything is digital (they make toilets with voice commands!) we have a few writers who don’t mind kicking it the traditional way. Now I wanna go to Office Max and get a brand-spankin’-new notebook 😀

    • HAH, I knew I wasn’t the only one!! I ❤ office supplies soooo much. Anyway! You never told me that your first Nano was via notebook! 🙂 That must have looked really productive–I mean, 50k words on paper?! And yeah, I think that's definitely part of it–the distraction of computers. Even if you set it to block the net, it's like…. You can un-do that really easily, and I'm good at talking myself into things. xD BUT YEAH. I wrote some more in my notebook last night. (The one from Portland!) It's working out pretty well. 🙂

  2. Notebooks are the proverbial bomb! I used to do that all the time in South Korea — grab my journal, wander to some random restaurant, write while I waited for food, write in between bites, and write some more while I sipped my drink and waited for the bill. You’re right — when you have to slow down and scribble out every word, it makes you shift your brain and pay more attention to what you’re writing (and less attention to going back and fixing things). Excellent tip 🙂

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