Sunday, 24 January 2010

The hardest part about writing is . . .

Writing. Luckily the ideas aren't so hard to come by these days. The most challenging aspect of writing is actually sitting down to do it. I'm not sure why I've built up a resistance to sitting down and doing the work, but I have. It makes me wonder if they'll ever make devices that read thoughts. Maybe what I need is a computer program I can talk to.

I don't think that's really the answer, though. There's something about the act of writing that is essential to the writing process. I think using a writing utensil and putting it to paper is how things should be done. I've gotten lazy lately and used a keyboard more than a pen, mostly out of necessity and practicality. I think it would be beneficial for me to spend more time writing things out, on paper. Writing is work and if it's something I want to do, pursue, create, then I should be willing to put the work in.

At this point I feel that the main difference between writing on a computer and writing on paper is that the former goes much quicker. When I try to keep up with my thoughts on paper, my writing tends to become illegible and scrawl-like. My fingers on a keyboard do pretty well at keeping up. Both forms allow me to edit as I go, but the paper holds what I've edited away.

Dictating would have its benefits. I could just talk it out, not have to write it. But it's disadvantages would include not seeing how the words fall on the page. I suppose it could work, though. I tend to talk as I type anyway. I guess the question would be if I could read as I talked.

Still, pen to paper is not to be forgotten as where it all started. Pen and paper work when the power goes down. Pen and paper accompany me on my walks. True, you might argue that I simply haven't got the right gadget, but I'm not a gadget collector. I like the simple. I like being able to fold and unfold a piece of paper. I like being able to take a pen and put in my pocket. Today, I walked for 3 hours, taking notes on a piece of paper folded in fours, a pen in my pocket. I did worry for a bit that my pen was running out of ink--tragedy!--but it keep going.

Writing, more so than all of these, can help me to sort out my ideas. I can talk it out or I can type it out, but pen to paper is somehow more solidly connected to my thought process.

Yes, I do need to spend more time writing on paper. And I do need to spend more time journaling -- even a few minutes a day. But how to deal with the matter at hand: an essay that isn't writing itself? My approach is to keep plugging away at it. I've done the research, I've got the ideas. I simply need to put them down. I must be more disciplined. It's possible it's time to unplug.

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