This article over on the Guardian, itself inspired by a New York Review of Books article by the poet Charles Simic, got me thinking about my physical writing process.
Novelist Alex Preston makes an interesting contribution:
“I think each writer, and each novel, has an inherent pace,” he says. “It’s important to find a tool that matches the pace of the writing. I composed my first book in a computerised blur; for the second, I wanted to be more scrupulous, more thoughtful. This is the pace of longhand. Writing with the fetish objects – the Uni-ball pen, the Rhodia notebooks –and watching the imprint of pen on page reminds us that writing is a craft. If everything is done on keyboards and fibre-optic wires, we may as well be writing shopping lists or investment reports.”
For myself, over the last few year I have seen my process morph depending on what I am writing. Flash Fiction tends to be written in longhand in my A4 notebook, the size of which I find useful as I can comfortably write a complete piece over a two page spread. Short Fiction tends to be planned in my notebook but is written both in the pages of my Conceptum and on my Macbook, I draft sections longhand, then type up and organise the sections in Scrivener, whose corkboard makes restructuring of scenes and sections a breeze.
As I limber up to begin the novel that will become the main assessment of my recently begun MA I have been thinking a great deal about how to manage the far more mammoth process of writing a novel with the tools I currently use. While I can see me spending even more time in Scrivener, I have also purchased a couple of notebooks that will specifically be used to house notes and section drafts that I wish to produce longhand. Preston’s point about finding the tools that match the pace of the project is certainly something I will be giving further consideration to.
And my current favoured writing implement? Still the Fisher Space Pen. Great for writing lying down with book held up above me, stood with notebook resting on a window while I peer out, jotting down a bright idea while undewater (not actually tried that one but its supposed to work), plus they don’t leak. Oh and these rather brilliant pencils from Faber Castell, for much the same reasons.
How’s about you? Is writing longhand lovely or laborious? Does the computer screen scare you or seduce you?