Tuesday, June 12, 2007

handwriting vs clickety clack

So I've been spending a lot of time revising a book dummy I've been working on and I started to remember how I used to work pre-computer... each new version of a story I'd write out on a new notebook page, crossing things out and making notes, sometimes doodling.

Now I do almost everything on the computer (except drawing) and I really think my writing process is different. Sometimes I just need to print everything out and start editing by hand (as above), crossed out words spark new ideas and sometimes I can work those deleted passages in elsewhere.

Entering in the changes to my computer file gives me another chance to move things around, but when I delete something from my computer screen it is gone, not in peripheral view suggesting new ideas. Lately when I'm editing on the computer, I've started keeping copies of deleted text in boxes around the pages in my layout, so I can refer to them but its not quite the same. Writing it all out by hand lets me think while I'm writing in a different way... especially when I can doodle and draw, sort of gives you a chance to pull out a new thought that doesn't have words yet.

This might seem all too abstract, but I think its interesting how ideas are formulated, what techniques people use. I am by no means nostalgic about the days before my computer, I LOVE my mac and use it for everything. But I think I'm going to work in more journaling time into my day, to give my thoughts the chance to reach a pen.


alvinaling said...

This is interesting to ponder...

On a related note, we're considering the move to electronic editing and copyediting at my company. So far, bot the copyeditor and I have chosen to print out the manuscript, edit by hand, and then transfer our edits/comments to the Word document, which may seem like a waste of time, but maybe it's just the transition needed to get to full electronic editing mode. I wonder if that will change at all how we actually edit/copyedited.

Anna Alter said...

Hmm interesting. I would think that would change the editing experience, if only in that you can curl up with a printed manuscript and get absorbed in it while you edit... I suppose you could do that with a laptop too, but I still prefer to read the printed page, especially for long stretches.

Mary Lee said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately in terms of the writing habits I want to instill in my students. In the last couple of years, they have had access to electronic composing, and our writers' notebooks have gone by the wayside.

I want to get back to and value writers' notebooks more with my next group of students because a notebook can go with you ANYWHERE. If you wait to compose electronically when you have your digital tools, you often lose the ideas or the impetus to compose.

But to get my kids into the habit, it will need to be MY habit, too. So I need to get my notebook out at least once a day all summer and get reacquainted with the joys of noodling with pen and paper!

JenFW said...

Hi Anna. Tag, you're it. Don't blame me; this can be traced back to Elaine.

Directions here.

Personally, I'd recommend a change to the "tag 8 others direction." That's hard! If you just share 8 tidbits, I'll be happy.