Take A Step Away From The Computer

That’s right. Hands in the air. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.

I’m finding that my computer doesn’t really help the writing process. And that doesn’t make sense – what is so different about writing with a pen and writing with a keyboard?

Everything, as it turns out.

I write best with pencil and paper. Pens won’t do, since I can’t stand crossing out phrases that could be improved upon. Pencils give me the freedom to doodle along the margins and to mind-map all my plot ideas, themes and characters … in cute little bubbles. It’s aesthetically pleasing.

Composing my thoughts on the computer, like in WordPress or in Word is an entirely different thing. I don’t see the empty document window or text box as a canvas on which my art can be crafted and molded on. I see obstacles to my creativity (and my lovely email inbox).

Writing this post has taken me 2 hours. During that time roughly 30 minutes had been spent on actual typing and forming sentences, while the other 1 hour 30 minutes spent on surfing Amazon, checking email, catching up with friends on Skype as well as reading up on the latest reviews over at the NYT.
In contrast, it takes me roughly 4 hours to write a 3000 word chapter on paper. That means 750 words an hour – a hefty pace, considering I spend a lot of time on rewriting entire pages.

You know what? I should spend more time writing my posts offline. I believe the quality would improve, as well as give me the time to doodle and drink coffee (no fear of a short circuit!) and to smell the flowers and run from the bees.

Take a day away from the computer. It helps.

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Category: Meta · Writing
  • http://www.thegeminiweb.com/babyboomer/ Rhea

    I have been a paid writer (journalist) for many, many years. I used to write on paper. Now it’s computers all the way. Even for creative writing outside of my job. But I do think there is a lot of merit in writing by hand. It’s just not for me anymore.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Hrmm … to each his/her own, I suppose. But I would love to be able to do creative writing on the computer – it’ll save so much time if and when I want to edit.

  • http://www.ohouse.ca Gloria Hildebrandt

    I enjoy writing by hand. I can sometimes do it on my back verandah, or in bed or during commercials while watching Oprah. It’s so portable. I might scribble all over the page in a first draft, and outlining ideas means no linear writing. When I have a chunk of text I’m happy with, I will type it into the computer, often doing edits along the way. When the writing is working and I’m in a productive zone, I might continue by writing directly on the computer. I like writing longhand.

  • http://script-of-your-life.blogspot.com Andrew Ho

    I enjoy writing with my feet….

  • http://www.ohouse.ca Gloria Hildebrandt

    That’s an amazing skill! I have a friend with cerebral palsy who also writes on a computer with one foot. It just shows what can be done when you put your mind to it. Congratulations on overcoming your own disability, Andrew.

  • http://script-of-your-life.blogspot.com Andrew Ho

    I have hands …

    but i enjoy writing with my feet more……

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Gloria, I think Andrew is joking. And yeah, writing by hand is definitely more portable!

    As is … writing by feet. Ehheh. ;P

  • http://www.ohouse.ca Gloria Hildebrandt

    Eli, I was afraid that Andrew might be trying to make a joke, so I replied to show that it actually might not be that funny.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    *Rolls on the floor laughing out loud* … It made me laugh terribly hard at Andrew! Your comment was hilarious! ;P

    Bravo, Gloria!

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  • Radhika

    Hey Eli! I’ve been following your blog in an indirect way for some time now and have atleast 20 tabs open with things I have to read, because I’m considering taking my own story into the form of a blook/web fiction using your software.

    I agree with this entirely, but then there’s the factor of how fast the pen moves in comparison to how fast the computer types – and faster, your brain. Fountain pens are the closest to computers, but there is still a lot to be said about the speed and what you might lose if you go the slow pen-and-paper route.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    You’re right, Radhika – today I type much faster than I write on paper. But I write on paper for different reasons: to focus completely on the content. It’s funny – with the computer I write at my fastest, but on paper I think best.