When working on a new article or short story I usually work directly onto my laptop to create my first draft. I think this is because I followed my dad’s advice (one of the few times I did during my teens) and learned to touch type, so it feels natural to work this way. However this summer my process has changed.
This change has come about because I’ve been using the train far more than I usually do. For the last four years I’ve had a summer job working for a local college. For the first three years I was full time and stayed on site. However this year I’ve been part-time and rather than driving into work each day I decided to enjoy a more leisurely start to some of my days by taking the train. This has meant I’ve had two forty minute slots where I had essentially free time. So I decided I would invest in my current work in progress and either research (reading the large volume of old books on my kindle) or write. By this I mean not just the creative act but also the physical act of taking a pen and making marks on a piece of paper that resemble letters (I don’t have the tidiest handwriting). For the first couple of journeys I struggled. I had to slow my thoughts down. I can usually type at the same speed that I construct a sentence in my head. However I cannot write at the same speed. So in order to be able to read what I’d written I had to slow my internal voice down. I don’t know if this has improved the quality of my first draft but I think this physical act of setting words to paper gives a certain pleasure I don't get from tapping on my keyboard. It has made such a difference that the first draft of this blog post was written whilst sitting on the settee with my canine friend gently snoring next to me, something I've not done in a very long time.
So will the novelty of this rediscovered pleasure wear off? I don’t know but I think the signs are good that it won’t. I’ve already pulled from the depths of my bookshelves my stash of untouched notebooks. Some of which until now have been too nice to write in (it’s a writer thing, trust me. I have a number of writing friends who also have notebooks they’ve treated themselves to or received as a present and haven't been able to make themselves create that first mark just because the notebook is too ‘lush’). I’ve even set myself the task of choosing one of my ‘lush’ notebooks and putting in my travel bag so I can use it whilst I’m on holiday next month. I’m also going to treat myself to a retractable pencil, as I’ve discovered I find these easier to write with (this may be my artistic side coming out).
Now in order to round off this post I want to ask how you create your first draft. Do you go really old school and put pen to paper? Do you go just old school and use one of those contraptions known as a typewriter? Do you go straight to the keyboard and watch as the words you type magically appear on your computer screen? Or do you do as I’ve done here and mix it up?
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