I was just thinking about my last post, about how I loved all the options that technology has given us writers, and it got me thinking about how I work in those different arenas. Do I get more accomplished when I'm working on my computer? Do the words flow more easily from my trusty fountain pen? Do my characters come alive to the clacks of a typewriter's keys?
I thought I would give them all a try over the last week, and pay attention to how working in some of those different ways actually affects my work.
The first thing that I found, which surprised me, is that I write WAY more in a day when I work on my typewriter. In terms of word count, I've demolished my word goal with ease on my typewriter, even as I struggled to hit it when working on my computer. I don't know what it is. Is there less pressure when working without a knowable word count? Maybe it has more to do with my having to really settle in if I'm going to work on my typewriter. I can't pull that thing out just anywhere and add a few words at a time to my story - I have to clear off my desk, sit down, open up the case I keep my old Royal in, find the paper, load it, reload it because it was so crooked... all of that before I write a single word. I think working that way really helps me get into a headspace that's focused and ready to hit the ground running and not stop (because it was so much work to get going in the first place!).
That being said, I found that working on my computer definitely saved me time. Not just in all the preparation that I could avoid with my typewriter, but in processing the words after and, frankly, I can type a lot faster on a keyboard, and without having to scratch out words that I misspell and type again. I would say that writing on my tablet/computer (it's kind of both) was the most efficient, in terms of words written per minute. If my typewriter is like a freight train to a complete manuscript, my computer is more like a mid-size sedan. It's not going for as long, or far, but it's mighty zippier in the short-term.
That being said, I tried to make a real effort to do serious work on my phone, and I think if I had the dexterity to make that more efficient it would be the main way that I would write. It was glorious to go out for a walk, stop on a bench or a rock, and rack up some words written without having to carry anything extra around. To just stop next to the river and write a few paragraphs that are instantly available on my computer when I get back... it was a dream. That being said, it's definitely no way to get a whole first draft written. I can add a few hundred words before I'm sick of the constant typos, my fingers not finding the right spaces on the screen to tap, and autocorrect messing with my delightfully human errors. I didn't use a keyboard or anything with it, but if I was going to do that I would just use my laptop. Overall, it was really nice to be able to pull out my phone and add to my manuscript at a whim, which I was pleasantly surprised to find, but definitely not the way to go if I've got a choice.
I didn't even really try to pen something for a manuscript; I'd like to someday, but just after I started I realized I was going to have to transpose it all and that was where it lost me. I would like to literally pen a whole novel someday; I've written out short stories longhand, but the prospect of re-typing a hundred thousand words is just too much. Even a couple thousand made me a little dizzy. I know I can write with my tablet at least, and it's remarkably adept at translating even my cursive scrawl into usable text. I have that, but I don't know that I'll ever really make much use of it. I do all of my plotting and brainstorming (what little of it I can manage to do ahead of time before I just go for it; yes, I am a proud pantser, not a plotter) longhand, so I'll always carry around my favorite pen and a good notebook.
It was really fun to give these different methods a conscious evaluation, and I think I'll try to make good use of all of them. I do like the idea of trying to write a complete manuscript with each of them individually. I know now that none of them is as efficient alone as all of them working together, but I'd like to give that a shot now. Maybe I won't let myself start anything new without committing to one instrument to write the whole thing with... as long as it's not just the computer. Been there.