Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Longhand v. Keyboard


Working on this Tudor novel, which is longer than anything I've written since an unpublished psychological thriller I grew, almost under laboratory conditions, in the early noughties, I've been returning to earlier ways of generating inspiration.

In other words, I've started writing new sections longhand, and then transferring them to the computer later in the day. I also rather cunningly expand and revise as I type up, so that 500 words by hand develops into 1000 on screen.

This seems an ideal solution to keeping up the daily word count, which does feel inexorable at times, especially since I occasionally become inexplicably blocked at the sight of my laptop. Association of object with activity.

It just seems nice and undemanding, kind of old-fashioned, writing a few carefully-chosen words by hand into a notebook. Those then grow, line by line, into paragraphs, and then pages ...

I couldn't write the whole book like this, of course. It would probably kill me, and take over a year to do so. Let's face it, I can type much faster than I can write longhand. Legibly, at least. But when it's cold and damp outside, as it is today, and I can curl up on the sofa with a notebook and ink pen, there's a Virginia Woolf feel to the process of writing a novel.

Shh, if you listen carefully, you can hear the birds singing in Greek.

4 comments:

clarabell said...

This sounds like a good way to take the strain out of object associated writers block... as you say. I'll give it a whirl. There's something cool, too about handwritten, scattered words when you find them later, it's like distilled magic that you can use as seeds. mmm. Thanks for sharing

Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Ah, so I'm guessing you must have a bit of a 'notebook thing' then?

Are you disciplined with just one at a time? Or do you have lots of them tumbling all over the place with lots of scraps of paper falling out of them?

Lots of love,

Rach.(a messy,untidy scribbler)
XX

Jane Holland said...

I have phases. Sometimes I don't lose the one I'm using, and so keep some continuity for a chapter or two. Then I lose it - inevitably! - and have to use another. I do have a few spare scraps of paper lying about too. But I buy notebooks the way Mel Gibson had to buy 'Catcher in the Rye' in CONSPIRACY THEORY whenever he saw a copy. Compulsively. Though I prefer plain-looking lined ones to the fancy ones with peacocks and Persian cats on the cover. I have tons of little 'Moleskin' ones too. Love them. Utilitarian but nice to handle too, and just expensive enough to be a luxury item.

Lacey Devlin said...

They say handwriting engages the creative side of your brain. I always find that anything I write is expanded when I enter it into the computer too which is always nice.