Update: I’ve started a free trial of Scrivener (a writing software), and I love it. I’ll be posting an update post soon!
If you’ve been following me, you’ve probably figured out that writing is one of my favorite hobbies. I never considered myself as a writer… I still don’t. I think of myself as a grad student who is weird and enjoys writing in her free time. My practice must have helped a bit. From essays to grant proposals to poems to short stories (one of which is published in a book !!), my work, no matter how embarrassed I am by it, has found a way to readers other than my parents. So, how do I get my thoughts in my head onto my blog(s)? With a pen and paper.
I’ll admit the draft of my memoir was written entirely on a word processor. For everything else, I write longhand. If you read How I Balance Life, then you know I carry a little notebook for random thoughts and my weekly plans. I take note of all of my ideas and block out my writing time in there. There are pages upon pages of 2-3 sentence passages and graphic captions for advocacy. I refer to this notebook every time I write anything. The main point is not losing the thought forever.
I don’t write anything longer than a paragraph outside of my dedicated writing time. During writing time blocks, I write longhand. Yes, my hand hurts. Yes, sometimes it’s so messy I need to re-read it three times before I can figure out what I was trying to say. Longhand lets me write freely. I’ve found that typing makes me edit as I go. If I think of a ‘better’ idea, I’ll delete what I had before and re-write. The issue is, then those words are gone forever. When I write longhand, I’ll delete passages with a single slash. I can then go back and re-work what I had or use it on future pages.
I know there are softwares for writers that let you organize and storyboard your work as you go. I’m on a budget, so paper, sticky notes, and pens works for me. Once I have a solid few pages I am happy with, I’ll transcribe them into my word processor. This becomes my first round of edits. Any long passages that are added as I type are noted as such. This tells me where I need to go back and edit again.
It’s a long process. It’s why I have a memoir draft and a novel draft that no one has seen yet. What’s important to me is that the drafts exist and I have a detailed plan on what’s next.
My advice if you want to start writing? Get a pen and paper and just let your mind start working. Worry about edits when you have to type it. —If you absolutely must type, then don’t delete anything! Mark it in red. Utilize the “strike through” feature. Whatever. Just don’t lose the words.—Once you have a draft (mine are always covered with arrows and misspelled words), then worry about making it readable to someone other than you.
All social media links are here: