Tuesday, May 06, 2014
My question has to do with your notebook. To what extent do you use a notebook and pencil/pen vs a computer. For instance, do you use the former to organize the plot and the latter to do the actual writing?
Once upon a time, I composed my books while sitting at the computer. Theoretically, writing at the computer is faster since it eliminates the need to transcribe. But then, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed my office, our house, and everything for miles around it, life was chaos; I had a book due, and I was finding it extraordinarily difficult to write. A friend of mine, Rexanne Becnel, has always written her books by hand, in a notebook, in a coffee shop. So I decided to try it (the notebook part, not the coffee shop part; I like solitude and quiet). The change broke whatever was blocking me; I was able to write Why Mermaids Sing in record time, and I've written by hand ever since.
I like it for a number of reasons. I have a bad back thanks to breaking it in a tobogganing accident years ago, so I find sitting for hours on a sofa, chair, or porch swing far more comfortable. Once upon a time it also took me away from the ever-present temptations of the Internet, but smart phones and iPads have wiped out that benefit. But most of all I like it because I find I write better by hand. Someone recently did a study showing that the act of holding and moving a pen stimulates creativity better than typing, so it's not simply my imagination.
In a sense, I've come full circle. When I first started writing, my kids were little and I wrote in a notebook because it was portable--I could take it to swim practice or dance classes or flute lessons.... You know what being a mother is like. Once upon a time I wrote on the backs of old printouts, but I've become more finicky with age. Now, I absolutely must use the same brand and weight of crisp white legal pads and the same type of pen every time I write. I try to type up each scene or chapter as I write it; I edit as I transcribe, and then I print it out and edit it some more. I keep the manuscript clipped together in sections. Here's the first part of book #11, which as you can see has no title yet: