Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pen, Paper, Rock

In some ways pen-and-paper still beats word-processor.

When I write with a pen I am less inclined to go back, less inclined to edit-as-I-go. When I write with a pen I will plough on even if I know that what I’m writing is jumbled. I tend to focus on what I am about to write instead of what I have just written. When I write like this - thinking about what is ahead instead of what is behind - ideas evolve and new ideas present themselves.

You can achieve the same thing with a word-processor, but it takes a bit more effort. You need to resist the urge to go back; resist the urge to edit-as-you-go. Writing is about putting into words what is in your mind. You need to stay with what is in your mind and not allow yourself to become distracted by what is on the screen.

Setting a word target may help you stay on track. Tell yourself that you will write 200 words in 15 minutes or less. You may be used to spending 15 minutes writing your opening sentence. Those 15 minutes could produce the perfect first sentence for an idea that will go nowhere. But, if you use them in the right way, those minutes may produce a couple of hundred words that will take your idea in a new direction.

So let your words lead you; you might be pleasantly surprised by where you end up.

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