Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pen and Paper

In my quest to improve the quality of my writing, I took a huge step backwards. You see, I started writing again.
When working on articles, I would keep files in two places- my Google Drive and my laptop at home. I would always have them open, writing in dribs and drabs, but my flow would always get disrupted. I learned a long time ago that I do not write well in long fell swoops, but rather in fits and spurts. However, without the help of an academic assignment, I would lose focus. This would lead to articles that would have half formed thoughts- ideas that were not fully fleshed out. I never like editing my work on a screen- I am too much a fan of the red pen.
When I was living at home, I would have my dad edit my papers. I would be so proud to have finished five pages of obvious awesomeness, and would present them with a smile on my face. Dad would take out the red felt tip pen and demolish my work. Five became four, or three, or sometimes two pages. I would be livid, and fix the paper, making it better. The pen would come out. Dad would always find something to fix, some way to make my work better. After five or so revisions, I would stop showing him my papers, because they were due. Eventually, I would only need one or two revisions from the Red Pen of Dad. I would find my own red pencil, and take the task upon myself.
Needless to say, I am not always happy with what I submit. Sure, I like it, but I always feel like I can do better. And then I decided to start physically writing again, with a pen, in a spiral notebook. Suddenly, everything was easier. I could pick up my notebook on the subway and write,  put it down for my work day, and pick it up on the ride home and not feel like I lost my train of thought. For me, writing is as much a physical act as it is a mental exercise, and this revelation has allowed me to do better. When I write something in ink, it is ingrained in my brain, and I can pick up right where I left off. I'm enjoying writing again. 
This is a shock to me.
I am left handed, and hated writing in grade school. I went to a New York City Public School, and got a stellar education. However, I was never taught the proper way to write  for a left handed person- the instruction all was geared towards righties. My hand writing is absolutely atrocious, to the point where sometimes if I write too quickly, I can't read my own notes. Teachers would always tell me how strong my work was, but how hard it was to read. learned how to type quickly at (what was then) a relatively young age. I would always ask if it was okay to type my assignments, because I grew to resent my handwriting. To some extent, I still do. 
The joy of writing, of putting pen to paper, has never left me, however. I could only deny it so long before I picked up something again, to put the thoughts on paper. I have a strong feeling that this will lead to better articles and more writing in general. Only time will tell.
Let's just hope I can read my notes when it comes time to transcribe.

1 comment:

Dustin Lesperance said...

I'm the same way -- I find I am able to write more consistently with pen and paper.

That being said, I type it up into word documents soon after, simply so I can refer to them -- my left-handed scribbles can be hard to decipher after awhile and I have a hard time keeping longer threads going with pen and paper because I have to actively search through every page to see what I named the damn dog.