Today I’m thinking about how we write – the physical act of getting words out of our brains and onto some form of paper, either real or virtual.
There are loads of options out there for writers who just need to get the words down, and sometimes we’re forced to resort to whatever is to hand. The backs of napkins, the margins of books, even our own skin. But, given the choice, what is the best way to write? These are some of the methods I’ve used over the years, and what I think of them.
This was my first writing love, but it wasn’t terribly practical. There’s no backspace, there’s no delete, and woe betide you if you want to use a typewriter when anybody else is sleeping. Still, there’s something unbeatable about literally hammering away at the keys and seeing the letters being printed in front of you, using metal arms and an ink ribbon. It’s old-fashioned, it’s noisy and it’s just so cool.
Pen and paper
I’m a big fan of the paper calendar, the paper diary and the paper shopping list, but when it comes to longer forms of writing is pen and paper a viable option? There’s certainly something to be said for the speed of handwriting – I’m sure many people can type faster than they write (or think!) so being forced to slow down a little can be a good thing. On the flip side, if you have a ton of ideas and you need to get them down fast, that speed might be more of a hindrance than a help.
As far as I’m concerned, a computer isn’t a computer until it has the internet and some kind of word processing software. I’ve used MS Word, Apple Pages and Apache OpenOffice for writing, and more recently I’ve discovered Scrivener (late to the party, I know). Sitting down at a computer and typing on a keyboard is how most of us write now, and that’s probably because it’s a pretty flawless way of working. This is my personal favourite.
I wonder how many of us take advantage of the wonders of the Cloud for our writing projects? For blog posts and short articles I find programs like GDocs absolutely invaluable. Cloud writing allows other people to make changes and comments in real time, and you never need to worry about hitting save because it does it automatically! Downside? Those lovely live features don’t work when the internet cuts out.
Phones and tablets are fantastic for quick notes on the go, but I have never used them for writing anything of any length. I’ve never even written a blog post on my phone. I would be interested to know if lots of other people write short stories or novels on their handheld devices (although I already know that one infamous novelist did just that).
How do you write? Do you use lots of different methods, writing on anything when the feeling takes you, or do you stick to just one? Please comment, I’d love to know how you write!
And once you’ve finished your masterpiece, don’t forget to hire an editor to polish it.