Monday, April 21, 2008

Pencils + Sunshine = Inspiration

Tip of the Day: Another creepy research fact--there's a haunted stretch of Interstate 4 outside Daytona Beach called the Dead Zone, rumored to be the locale of over 2000 deaths. (I should start LiveJournaling all my weird research facts.)

I recently received a beautiful gift: a canister of inspirational pencils. Each pencil has one of the following inspiring quotations:

"Start to write, and let one thing lead to another." - Ring Lardner

"The shorter and the plainer, the better." - Beatrix Potter

"Inspiration comes from working every day." - Charles Baudelaire

"Words are the voice of the heart." - Confucius

"Write what makes you happy." - O. Henry

I'm really starting to believe these are good luck pencils. With them came sunny weather in upstate New York. My kids have been stuck inside all winter and they want out, out, out. For me, it's the beginning of spending every Saturday and Sunday in my backyard (except for my husband's rare weekend days off in the summer, when we'll drive to a lakeside beach).

My pencils and I have been out on my patio furniture and I've been filling a legal-sized, lined notebook with scribbles while my kids tear up the swingset. I tried bringing my laptop outside, but the sun glares off the screen and I can't see a thing. Anyway, I like writing longhand. True, I have to type it all out later. But I like that, too. Instead of sitting at my PC at night staring at a white screen, I have words to fill it with--and then I can keep going.

I've also taken a nonfiction book outside with my notebook and pencils and made research notes. Thanks to my new pencils, I feel like I'm going to get tons of writing done this summer.

It's funny; I'm proud of my techno-computer nerdish leanings and I never used to understand writers preferring to write longhand. It seemed so backward. Typing is faster, easier! All hail the cut and paste! Watch me open up Internet Explorer and have the answer to every question at my fingertips. Crazy longhand writing hermits.

But I'm totally converted now. My pencils can go everywhere with me and they're a lot lighter than my laptop. I'm happy with the quality of what I wrote outside this week. Maybe my brain needed the Vitamin D boost.

Anyone else have good luck writing longhand, or out in the sun?

--Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


Anonymous said...

I use longhand for first drafts all the time. Staying off the computer helps me to really focus on the world and the characters. When I work on the laptop, I'm easily distracted by shiny things online--including research--and I also tend to go back and work over the first few sentences, paragraphs, or pages until they're "just right", spinning my wheels in word choices and grammar instead of making progress in the story. With a pen and paper I'm much more likely to get scenes down and let myself be imperfect. It may not be the quickest process, but it works for me.

Kristina Springer said...

I got a lot of work done outside this week but on my laptop. Glare and all (I just suffered through it!). I take notes a lot on pieces of paper or in a notebook but I can't write a ton that way. It takes too long and I get aggravated and start to scribble and then can't read my writing later.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Well, if the sun EVER starts to shine here in the Pacific NW, I will have to try it. I type SO fast, and I just don't know if my brain works as well when I'm writing longhand. But I'm so hungry for sun, I want to try this summer and see what happens.

Those pencils sound so cute!

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

love this! I must admit that when it comes to serious writing on my ms, I am paralyzed without my laptop. Amazing for one who saw the evolution of the home computer from the start!

But, I always have a notebook and pencil (I love my pink click mechanical pencil--no sharpening!) with me to catch those stray thoughts and brilliant bits of inspiration/epiphany...whatever.

I will take my laptop out to the porch and work while my sweetpeas play in the yard. Hoist the old umbrella up and get tapping.

So bring on that sunshine--bring it to stay!

Kate Fall said...

I think almost half of what I've written of this book was first draft in longhand. I'm with marykate--I'm highly distracted by shiny things online.

But come Nanowrimo, I'll be giving Lisa a run for her money with my speed typing!

Emily Marshall said...

I stink at long hand. I write tons of writing notes longhand (mostly when I'm trying to sleep and have to get up to write something), but my hand gets way too tired. And I type much, much faster than I write. So I couldn't keep up with my thoughts if I had to write it out. I'm amazed others can. I definitely think it would program your brain to really think about each word as you wrote it, though, which could be a good thing.

amuse me said...

Great post for today. I'm thinking I'm a cross somewhere between longhand and typing. One works better than the other at certain times.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Frankly, my hands just don't move fast enough for my brain, and writing longhand is kind of like taking Fred Flintstone's car to work! At least with the keyboard, I can move a little faster and closer to the pace of my brain. And I don't get blisters on my feet!

(okay...totally non-sequitur...)

Heidi Willis said...

I can see those pencils a few months from now, sharpened down to their essence: "Write" and "Inspiration comes" etc. Sometimes maybe even on pencils fewer words say it just as well!

Stella said...

I grew up writing in longhand but must say I love Word. For me, there's nothing quite like a smart typewriter. I hated real typewriters and using all those bottles of white-out!

Bayport, eh Kate? That's down the road a piece from me. I ride my bike into Bayport - down Middle Road past St. Anne's, the Country Junque Shoppe, the deli, and down Gillette Ave. to the Bay - and back. I didn't grow up out here, though. I grew up in Michigan. I moved to Long Island in 1982 so I'm older than you by a long shot, I'd say. Still, I love it out here. My sons don't want to live anywhere else.