Okiekokie. The question is this: as a writer, do you prefer to type your "raw" material, or are you in the habit of scribbling it all longhand then typing it up? And, of course - why?
Historically, until the start of this year, I'd written absolutely everything - upto and including school essays - on the 'puter. Notwithstanding the fact that my handwriting and spelling skills (damn autocorrect!) have suffered terribly as a result, I was quite happy to hammer away at a keyboard, gradually fucking-up my spinal column with my lousy posture and allowing my skin to turn 40% transluscent as a result of sunlight starvation.
I wrote the entirety of my first "real" novel (and all my slightly embarassing work-for-hire ones) in this fashion, and it was only whilst proof-reading the first complete draft that I started to rethink my approach.
Firstly, it occurred to me that whole chunks of the text were completely irrelevant. Stylistic guff, basically: pointless and irritating. I started to think about how it could be that all this clearly-superfluous bollocks had found its way into my work, and sooner-or-later I decided to point the finger firmly at - you guessed it - Typing.
I've done so much of it that my typing speed tops-out at about 90 words per minute. That, I believe, is a little faster than my brain can keep up. Consequently whilst my mind is chugging-along to create the next slice of attention-searingly wonderful prose, thick with poetic brilliance and plot-relevance (yeah, yeah... I can dream), all the time my fingers are hammering away regardless. It's like the digital version of Hugh Grant stammering, or someone stopping to say "uuuuuh..." between sentences. Brain-plays-catchup, essentially.
On top of that I'd noticed that when I came to read things back they acted very differently upon my attention depending if I read them on the screen, or on printed paper. Something to do with portability, perhaps, or the organic nature of "feeling" paper in your hands, or... whatever. I don't know. But I started to think it would certainly be more useful to experience everything I'd written via the medium of paper, because that - after all - will be how it eventually reaches the reader.
And last but not least, the longer I stay sitting at my computer hitting keys, the more liable I am to get bored and spend a calming 5 minutes on the 'net, or chatting on MSN, or simply jerking-upright with indecent excitement every time the latest scrap of Viagra-shilling spam splatters into my inbox. All of which eats-up a loooot of time.
The freelance writer, I concluded, is not biologically designed to operate in the presence of such a wealth of procrastination opportunities.
So for the current WIP, I thought I'd try something different. I went out and bought myself a big fat hardback brick of a writing-pad, 500+ pages, and have ever since endeavoured to do things the Old Fashioned way.
On the down side, my wrist spends much of its time hurting like hell (though this can be a useful excuse for getting out of doing the washing-up). Also I'm developing a charming callous on the side of my finger, and my posture hasn't improved much at all. I'm also spending rather more money thanks to the sudden appearance of coffee shops, pubs and bars in my working life.
But on the plus side, I'm taking the time to choose every word I write. I'm not filling-up pages with random dross that'll only get deleted eventually anyway. I'm getting out of the house and not getting distracted every time the "You Have Mail" bell tinkles. I'm saving time - believe it or not - because whilst I write each sentence slower, I'm procrastinating faaar less. And above all there's something indescribably *natural* about being able to see the evolution of a page: the crossings-out, the reinstatements, the notes and corrections and margin-conversations with yourself. There's something charming about being able to flick through pages and pages of your own illegible spidery text, and say to yourself: Yeah... Yeah, I did that.
I'm about halfway through my first draft now - 50,000 words and counting - and I simply wouldn't go back. So who's with me? And who's prepared to give it a go? And who's going to come-out fighting for the humble Keyboard?