There’s a moment that I’m pretty sure every aspiring and emerging writer goes through at some point on their expedition along this particular waterway (and because it’s been a good writing day, I’m not even gonna call it Shit Creek). There comes a moment when you find yourself thinking about the way you do things, and the reasons why you do them that particular way. It’s either going to drive you crazy, or be a lot of fun. It’s taken me a while to find the fun, but here we are.
I don’t know it all, clearly. But what I’m realising, especially after way too many conversations with other writery types, is that as much as I love typing, it doesn’t always love me.
I’m queen of the short attention span when there’s a screen in front of me. As I type this, I have 14 tabs open, and I’m fighting the urge to check Facebook. Again. And, oh, maybe I could find a picture for another post I’m part way through writing, or I could reply to that email I’ve just remembered, or talk to X about Y. It’s gotten to be habit to flick through to something else, to jump between tasks, and more often than not forget to wander back and finish things.
There’s always something to do, watch, listen to, reply to, or be distracted by. That’s the whole point of the internet, really.
Put me in a room with other writers, and I can rack up a hell of a word count. Leave me alone in a room with a laptop, and more often than I’d like, I’ll spend the time pissing around online and leap-frogging between things. Funnily enough, that’s not helping me get moving towards my goals.
So it’s got to go.
I’ve been trying a sneaky kind of experiment. I’ve gotten myself a nice, sturdy journal, and some pens I like to write with (yes, I’m an unapologetic stationery fiend who loathes certain pens and paper textures), and they’ve been living in my bag for about a month and a half now.
Has it worked?
Kinda. The problem, of course, is that when you pack up and move everything you own, and have to scrub clean the new place like you’re cosplaying pre-fairy godmother Cinderella, it doesn’t actually leave a lot of time to write.
From a scientific viewpoint, this hasn’t been well-timed, and the findings will be skewed because of it. More time will be needed to get a bigger picture of whether it’s worked or not. But what I do know is this:
- Throwing a journal and pen into my bag has meant that in spare moments (like waiting for an appointment), I’ll tend to pull that out to work with, rather than jumping on my phone. Unless I’m stressed, at which point I’ll jump on Facebook and procrastinate.
- Adding the date to pages is letting me see how productive I’ve been each day.
- Titling each new project as I start on it hasn’t really been helpful, given the index. But I have the sneaking suspicion it’ll do something eventually.
- Adding an organisational system is a pain in the ass, but it’s really helpful. It’s not exactly oodles of fun to sit and number every page before getting started, or to set up an index, but it’s really, really helpful later on at making sense of what I’ve done. This is what’s screwed me up on other attempts at hand writing- I’d flit between things, and come back and try and figure out where the different bits of, say, a specific story, were in the chaos of the notebook. Having a system has stopped the overwhelm that generally shows up and sabotages my efforts.
- Colour coordination helps, too. I alternate between blue and black pen so I can see how much I’ve written each day. But if I switch projects during, say, a blue day, I’ll alternate blue pens. I have darker and lighter pens, so my easily distracted brain can clearly see that I’ve switched to another project now when I’m too lazy to read the titles.
- My brain is getting bored with the whole dual toned approach, and I think I’ll need to add more colour somehow.
- Being a ridiculous journal hugger helps. I want to move on to my next journal because it’s pretty and new, so I’m pushing myself to write more. But because I don’t want to hand write rambling crap, I’m thinking harder about what I’m writing.
- Hand writing makes me pay more attention. It’s hard to delete pen, and I can’t rip pages out because I’m pedantic like that, so I tend to slow down, and think harder about what I’m trying to say and how to say it. That’s never a bad thing.