On Monday, our fearless leader, Ryan Scott Oliver wrote a great post about how writing with pencil and paper produces better writing. In a lot of ways I agree, but in some ways, as I've become a writer myself, I have a difference of opinion, which just shows how individual the process really is.
by Lara Paquette (Writer)
In November of 2012 I wrote a novel. A whole novel, start to finish. I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and the experience changed my life. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. My novel clocked in at 54,310 (a number that I have hard-core committed to memory). I have never been prouder of anything I have produced, not even my grad school thesis. If you've ever thought about writing a novel but have put it off for whatever reason, I highly recommend NaNoWriMo. Its a great, supportive site and I felt like I had a cheering section my whole way through. Sure by week three I thought I was literally losing my mind, but I would not have traded the experience for anything.
I wrote my whole novel on the computer for practical reasons. I needed to know my word count and I would not have had time to hand write and then type it all after the fact. I was already writing for an hour or two a day and I had a blog and a full time job (hence the slowly going crazy).
After I finished the first draft I thought I would edit it on paper. I printed a copy of the whole manuscript (175 pages 1.25 spaced! woot!) and started methodically going through it page by page and then transcribing what I did into the computer. An author friend of mine told me to abandon the computer during that first edit, but I didn't feel productive unless the words were typed on to the screen.
I totally get what Ryan says about writing with a pen making you more careful about what you're writing and makes you think about things differently, but I found I couldn't actually get my thoughts out fast enough when I wrote with my hands. I kept missing ideas that I could get out faster on the computer. About half way through the paper manuscript I abandoned it completely and now edit exclusively on the computer.
There is definitely something to be said about the "handmade"ness of the process, as Ryan calls it. Even though all of my edits have taken place on the computer and my novel exists exclusively "in the cloud," I do have artifacts of my writing process. I have pages of hand written character profiles. I have notes from research I've done that is all hand written and a spreadsheet of all of the Broadway shows my protagonist would have seen in her life. Not to mention that the first 175 page draft is in a binder on my bookshelf. I cherish those artifacts because they do make me feel productive and like I'm really building a world that exists outside of my head or the computer.
At the end of the day, I think everyone's writing process is different, and you really have to figure out what works best for you. Though Ryan has a lot of stuff published and produced, so on second thought...
LARA PAQUETTE Lara is just trying to be a writer, by writing. She is an aspiring novelist and current blogger. www.thinkwelllovewelldinewell.com
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