So I’m what other writers would call “a little weird.” Or maybe “a throwback.” Or even, as a certain someone says, “a Luddite.” Why? Because I like to write longhand. You know, with a pen and paper. I’ll wait while you go look up those terms.
The thing is, writing is scary. You are creating a whole world, an entire universe, out of whole cloth. And it doesn’t matter if it’s SF, or fantasy, or romance, or “literature.” (When you read that term, please make little “air quotes” with your fingers. It’s deserved.) What you write has never happened, at least in that way to those people. You’re making it up. And you’re making up their world. The scope of the made-up part varies by genre, from one person and his small circle of acquaintances to one person and his not-so-small galactic empire, but the concept remains. Whatever will, or has, ever happened in this universe is what, and only what, you make up.
Which means that facing a blank screen can be intimidating. That blinking cursor reminds you each and every second that it’s alone up there that you haven’t drawn in one stroke of your universe. It’s the Monday of your six days, and while we know God finally started with, “Let there be light!” we have no idea how long He stood there staring at the empty canvas that was the Void trying to decide what color that light should be. So it is with your own universe (a smaller project, I admit, than His).
I find that a (lined) piece of paper is less intimidating than a computer screen. When I’m stuck, unable to start a new story for the life of me, I invariably will turn, at long last, to my friend the notebook (college-ruled, not Mac) and start scribbling away almost as fast as my thoughts can run. Except when I don’t, but even when I stare at that page for an hour, eventually something comes bubbling to the forefront of my mind, and I write it down. Be it a book blurb, or a conversation, or a piece of flash fiction, it almost never fails–but if I were to try the same thing on my laptop, I’d give up in ten minutes and watch The Big Bang Theory.
Truth is, if I could find a good script-to-type program, I’d get a (computer) tablet I could write on and compose everything longhand. (Yes, I know they are out there, but I’ve not seen what I want yet.) I guess I feel a closer connection to the work that way, and maybe I feel more like the writers of old, Shakespeare, and Poe, and Neil Gaiman.
You know, the weirdos.