The Pen is Mightier…For Now

I’m engaged in a long term writing project. Fiction. Beyond that I don’t want to reveal any content details, because I myself am not sure where if anywhere it will go. Plus all writing feels more fragile lately, and I don’t want to risk anything slowing what momentum I have going for it.

So I won’t say what I am writing, but I wanted to mention how. As in literally how I am putting the words down. I’m using pen and paper.

Shocking? Perhaps not, if you know little about me. But if you know anything about me and my writing, you have probably already learned that the physical act of forming letters by way of a pen in my hand, depressed onto paper is often a physically uncomfortable experience.

For reasons that have never been determined, I suffer hand and even arm cramps when I write things down on paper for even rather short periods of time. So up until about a year ago, I wrote next to nothing on paper, other than short lists, and poetry. (Never felt right to type a poem. Plus my poems are generally short.)

A year ago, however, I started journaling again, after a long hiatus. This time, I opted to write the journals out physically, instead of typing them. No deadline, no word count requirements. I could stop when I needed to, or write at a snail’s pace. (The pain is held somewhat more in check if I write in what would otherwise be an impractically slow speed.

Then, about a month ago, I had the idea to write out pieces of my next project directly onto paper. Pieces, because I have not come up with a final format yet, but I wanted to get on with realizing some of the ideas I had. And due to issues I mentioned in detail in my previous post, I’ve struggled to attain intimacy with my writing process and my material in recent months. I theorized that having to slow way down and write the ideas I had with my hand and a pen would help me get more in touch with my material and my process.

It has not solved the entire problem. However, despite the physical difficulties and the decreased efficiency, this method makes it feel somewhat more raw, more artistic, and more, for lack of a better term, “alive” than typing would at this time. If I am honest with myself, as I must be, I’d have to conclude that none of this particular project would have been written down by now if I have been relying on  my usual word processing.

I absolutely do not see this becoming my standard. It would physically wear me out to do all of my writing this way from now on. Yet I needed a bit of a shake-up lately, and this seems to have achieved, at least partially, a productive shift in perspective on the process of creating a work as I struggle with the point of it all.

Who can say if it is the actual process of touching a pen to the page and hearing the scratching sound of my words appearing from ink, or if rather it is simply the novelty of the approach that is providing some much needed oxygen. Furthermore, who can say if this approach will continue even for this project. But given how I have been feeling about writing lately, I’ll take what I can get.

 

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