Writing is messy work

I’m trying something different. This week I started drafting a new novel. Using pen and paper (reminder: buy a box of #2 pencils). This comes close to literalizing my blog title, “The Pencil Driven Life.”

As an aside, I’m really not postured to start a new novel. I’m still editing my current work in progress, The Boaz Stranger. Over time, I’ve learned it’s better to complete an active project before attacking another. This is just the way I roll. There are many great writers who work on multiple projects at a time (not literally!). Two other things that make my pen and paper adventure so radical are my months-long craft study and near-full commitment to becoming a plotter. Instead, I had a vague idea about a guy seeking revenge and started pantsing. Come to think of it, I’ve pantsed every book I’ve written so far. Oh well.

Creating your drafts with pen (or pencil) and paper is not required. Since I started writing in 2015, I’ve always used a computer and the best software I’ve found, Scrivener. Now, after four days (I missed yesterday) I’m doubtful I’ll continue my different approach. But, that doesn’t mean it was fruitless.

Here are some things I learned. To start with, obviously, you can be anywhere and naked of all electronic devices and still write. Of course you need a pen or pencil and some paper; a pocket-sized notepad will do (as will a lump of charcoal and a tree limb stripped of its bark, but I digress into speculation). Secondly, there is real freedom by disconnecting from technology. I felt a needed distance between the creative side of my brain and that old demon who’s always saying shit like, “is that the best word here?” or “that is so lame and you’ve got it out of order. Move it before ‘Jack rolled down the hill.'”

It was refreshing to strike words and phrases. It was more refreshing drawing arrows, from here to there, and jotting down ideas in the margins–all things that’s more difficult with technology. And here’s another treat, a big one: I didn’t feel the need to be grammatically correct. Incomplete sentences were good enough to capture the jist of my thoughts.

However, one thing I didn’t like about my pen and paper adventure–transcribing my scribblings to Scrivener. There are three primary reasons. The quality of my penmanship made some words unclear. It seemed like I was wasting time by plowing similar ground twice. And, when I finished the task I felt like a slob. My usual writing method is to work slow and methodical, editing as I go (which always gives me a feeling of accomplishment). This merging of both sides of my brain is both good and bad, probably mostly bad but again, it’s the way I roll. So far.

Any way you look at it, writing is a messy business. No doubt I’m a slow learner but there’s one thing I’m chewing on as I conduct this little lookback. It’s okay to start anywhere. It’s okay to create rough drafts. Those so rough they will likely take many rewrites to start making sense, even more before the words start to flow into an enjoyable and intriguing story. Someone said (sorry, I don’t want to look it up), “writing is rewriting.” I’m saying that too. But, you have to start.

Which brings me to the real point I want to make. You are kidding yourself about the wonderfulness and greatness of your life if you are not writing. And reading. I know that’s bold and maybe not fully true for you or anyone else. But, it’s true for me and I should know given the tons of things I’ve tried over my sixty-six plus years.

Proof (kinda): even though my hand-written draft doesn’t yet include this thought, it’s in my head. What is it? James Aldridge (my protagonist) is going to connect with Micaden Tanner, my protagonist in my second novel. Sorry, you’ll have to read The Boaz Scorekeeper to learn about and understand one of my favorite characters. Btw, this book is free if you subscribe to my readers group.

Sign up for my Myths, Mysteries & Murders readers’ group for news, special offers, and to receive a FREE digital copy of The Boaz Scorekeeper: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/i9qbcspivt.

Here’s some of this week’s scribbling, and transcribing:

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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