Longhand or Computer?

Longhand or Computer-Should I write a project on the computer? Should I write a project out by hand first? Is doing both OK? Those are just some questions a writer may ask themselves when it comes to writing.

My own preference depends greatly on the project. One of my current projects, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is both. My outlining, worldbuilding and snippets are all by hand so that I don’t have to worry about losing them. Long as I have my notebook, I’m good to go. Providing, of course, the notebook isn’t somehow destroyed. And my project for Camp NaNoWriMo—an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month—is also shaping up to be this kind of hybrid approach.

On the other hand, I write my poetry almost exclusively by hand for the first draft or two. I find poetry to be a very tactile form of writing and a computer, in my opinion, doesn’t reflect how tactile writing poetry is for me.

Which brings me to the substance of this post. How do you pick one or the other writing method? What are the benefits of writing on the computer and writing longhand? The cons of both?

Longhand

Writing longhand, for the purposes of this post, means to write a manuscript out by hand. Printing or cursive writing. This method of writing, since both typewriters and computers are relatively recent inventions within the vast span of history, was once the dominant form of drafting a story.

The most obvious benefit to writing longhand is one I already mentioned. You can’t lose it if your computer crashes. And, of course, the most obvious drawback is that longhand work can be lost to fire or water. However, fire and water can also mean information from a computer not saved to secondary location can be lost as well. So those issues aren’t unique to writing longhand.

Obvious benefits and cons aside, writing longhand can be viewed as a more minimalistic approach to writing.  All a writer needs is some type of paper to write on and something to write with. I personally prefer gel pens or a good pencil and notebooks that are at least B6 size for portability and space. Other may prefer composition or jotter-style notebooks from companies like Rhodia or Leuchtturm 1917. And some will prefer your standard letter and A4 sized notebooks because they have the space to take it with them.

Speaking of which, being able to take a notebook with you and write anywhere is a big draw when it comes to writing longhand. No batteries to worry about means not worrying about your computer, phone etc. dying on you in the middle of a sentence. The writing can just flow for as long as you feel like writing or have the time to write during the day.

Another big draw is for some is that it allows a writer to connect with their story in a more organic way. For outlines, character profiles, and other forms of prewriting being able to just note information down puts less pressure on that part of the process. Less stress means more freedom to be creative in our approach as writers. This lack of stress also carries over to writing novels, novellas, and short stories by hand as well. The organic flow and not having wavy red lines under mistakes means the story can just flow from a writer’s pen or pencil.

The Computer

While it doesn’t have nearly as long a history as writing longhand does, it is a valid choice to write the first draft of a story on the computer. A lot of writers like to take a small laptop or tablet to a coffee shop and write. Or they are perfectly happy to connect to the cloud and quickly type a paragraph while waiting in line for something. Or take some sort of tablet with them to their favorite spot outside their homes and spend some time relaxing and writing.

Having to make sure something won’t die in the middle of a sentence is a bit of a pain, I admit. But editing as you go is much easier on a computer or other electronic than on paper. Paper also can’t tell you how many words your story is at the drop of a hat. For people who frequently like to check their progress via word count, that’s a big asset. Big enough to sacrifice the true portability of writing longhand.

It’s also easier to fact check things on a computer.

Choosing A Method

So, how do you choose a method of writing? In the end, it comes down to the needs of the writer.

Do you need portability and enjoy the chance to edit as you transcribe things into the computer? Then using a notebook for your prewriting, first draft, or both may be the best bet for you.

Do you need to be able to edit and move things around as you go? Quickly check a random fact that has an effect on your plot? Enjoy the taunt that is the blinking cursor? Using a computer to write the first draft may be the best thing for you.

How do you write your first drafts?

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc.


Recommended Products

Notebook: Clairefontaine Wirebound

Pen: Uni-ball Signo 207|Black

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

 

The Story Journal: A How-To

The Story Journal

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on the Bullet Journal®, you’ve seen me frame this awesome productivity method in relation to being a writer. I love how adaptable it is to the needs of individual users.

However, this isn’t a Bullet Journal post.

This post is about something a writer may want to use in addition to their Bullet Journal. What I like to call The Project Journal or story Journal.

What Is A Project Journal?

Any notebook related to a specific writing project. A  hardbound or softbound notebook. A  Traveler’s Notebook. A binder system of some sort etc.

My current Project Journal is a simple notebook. So don’t be afraid to go with what works for you. Including adding some of these principals in this post to your Bullet Journal® if that is what suits your needs as a writer.

Why Use A Project Journal?

A Project Journal keeps all the information related to one of more projects in a central location. This means no worrying about losing worldbuilding and research if your computer crashes. Your story may get taken down in the crossfire, which really sucks. But at least you haven’t lost everything, even if the story itself isn’t backed up in multiple locations.

More than that, studies have suggested people process information differently when it is written vs. typed. For notetaking, what these studies show is the information is retained more if it is written down. When it comes to writing fiction, this would mean a small bit of a character’s backstory. Some random story note. A bit of research etc. may all be retained better.

This means less flipping between project notes and the project itself, whether on the computer of in another notebook. And as a result, we as writers can get more work done without feeling stressed about it.

Setting Up A Project Journal

This brings us to how to set up a Project Journal in the first place. Because there’s no use extolling the virtues of using one if I’m not going to tell you how to set one up.

1) Create an index.

Take you notebook and label a couple of pages with the title Index. Like with a Bullet Journal® or commonplace book, the index allows you to find specific things later. A character profile. List of research questions you wanted to answer. Your outline etc.

If you worry about running out of space in your index, start it from the back of the notebook. That way both the index and content of your Project Journal will meet up when the notebook is filled.

Story Information

2) Create a page for project information.

In reality, the only thing you need to set up in order to keep a Project Journal is the index. Anything else is optional.

But I like to set up a page of basic information I already know about a story. It lets me see what my vision for the story at the start was. And it is something I’ve done for years. Longhand, computer, or both I write up a page of basic story information. Sometimes it is digital and sometimes, like with the Project Journal, it is analog.

3) Create other pages as needed.

A Project Journal can have a myriad of, for lack of a better word, collections. And there’s no standard for what a writer can and can’t use in their Project Journal.

That said, there are some basic collections I like to use:

A collection of research questions means anything that comes up during the course of planning or writing can be easily found later. I don’t have to scour the Project Journal looking for these questions in my story ideas or scribbled onto a piece of paper.

Character profiles give me a place to get to know my characters before I start writing. This means my outlines are more organic and I’m not worried about their actions seeming out of place when I write the story. A valuable thing for a writer, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced they are.

Outlines help me visualize things as I’m writing. I’m a planner or story architect and tend to get lost if I don’t have at least some basic understanding of the plot.

However, I really suggest letting things appear organically in your Project Journal. As much as I love the things I include as almost a given in my own Project Journals, a Project Journal is a reflection of the writer who uses it. Some people don’t outline. Their Project Journal may have story ideas, research ideas, rants about how badly the project is going that day etc. Someone else may need a very detailed outline with gradient levels in their Project Journal. And some others may only need one type of collection, categorizing things by month instead.

Spread your wings and find what works for you.

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc.


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: Between Women by Sharon Marcus

Watching: Turn: Washington’s Spies|Season 1

Listening To: Vienna Tang| My Medea 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

Ancient Egypt and Me

Ancient Egypt & Me.png

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had something of a love affair with Ancient Egypt. I spent hours reading books and, when that became an option, scouring the internet for information.

Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut

This love affair, such as it is, can be traced to one figure in Ancient Egyptian history. Hatshepsut.

Hatshepsut was the most well known of Ancient Egypt’s six ruling Queens. A member of the New Kingdom’s 18th dynasty, the same dynasty to which King Tut belongs, she originally came to power as regent for her stepson, Thutmose III. Her reign was one of prosperity for the nation.

To this day, she is my favorite historical figure. If I could sit down and have a chat with anyone from the past, it would be her. It was this fascination with Hatshepsut that lead me to a general fascination with the history of women in Ancient Egypt.

The average person can be forgiven for thinking women in Ancient Egypt were treated in much the same way as women in Mesopotamia, and Ancient Greece. Most don’t know much about ancient cultures like the Nomads of the Steppes and their relatively more egalitarian view of women. So it comes as no surprise that people are surprised when they find out women, at least in theory, had equal rights to men in Ancient Egypt.

She could own property and had control of her property for her entire life. She could leave her belongings to whomever she wished, including her daughter. She could call for a divorce,  even be the contracting partner in a marriage contract.

But I’m rambling, let’s bring this back to the main topic of this blog. Writing.  Biased though my opinion may be, I think Ancient Egypt is a fascinating time to write about. Particularly if the focus is on the life of women in Ancient Egypt or a society based off of Ancient Egypt.

To that effect, I’ve decided that my Camp NaNoWriMo project for July will be a novella or novelette about one such woman. Currently, one of the books I’m reading is The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Conney. It reads like a well-researched and painstakingly referenced historical drama instead of a history book. If you like history, biographies, and ancient Egypt it is sure to hold you attention from the first page to the last. I’ve spent hours already just looking at the bibliography and tracking stuff down.  I can think of no better place to start my research as I’ve decided my main character will be a royal or noble woman.  And yes, the book is about Hatshepsut.

The Woman Who Would Be King can be found through Amazon in e-book, hardcover, paperback, and audiobook formats.

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc.


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: Between Women by Sharon Marcus

Watching: Turn: Washington’s Spies|Season 1

Listening To: Vienna Tang| My Medea 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

Queerbaiting?

QUEER Baiting- (1)

June, in a lot of the world, is Pride month. A month where LGBT+ people celebrate pride in who we are. For some, that means going to their local Pride event. For some, that means vowing to only read books by LGBT+ authors or with LGBT+ characters in the leading role. And some simply spend time a bit more time with their LGBT+ friends if they have any. (Sometimes LGBT+ people end up being the only Queer person in their circle of friends.)

To celebrate Pride, I’m talking about queer baiting. What it is, why it is hurtful and how to avoid it.

What Is Queer Baiting?

Queer baiting is one of my personal media pet peeves as a queer woman. It’s the phenomenon in which characters are hinted to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual etc. in order to gain more LGBT+ and liberal viewers/readers. Which would be perfectly fine if said queerness was ever confirmed. But, and this is a big but, in a bit of media that queer baits, things never are confirmed. It’s just perpetually hinted at.

Why Is Queer Baiting Hurtful?

To put it simply, because it acts as a form of erasure. Erasure being when a bit of media or a person acts in a way that ignores and/or mocks an identity.

A great example of this is the BBC show, Sherlock. In the original short stories, we never learn much about Sherlock’s orientation. Not surprising for the late 19th and early 20th century when the originals were written by A.C. Doyle. And not something that bothers me because of that very reason.

In the BBC show, Sherlock is, in the very first episode, implied to be gay. I’m a fan of the show, I liked the idea of a gay Sherlock when one of the show’s writers is himself a gay man. Representation of a minority group as written by someone in that group is something I enjoy.  So it proved to be an interesting idea. I also like the idea of an asexual Sherlock, perhaps romantically interested men or not romantically interested in anyone. However, what could’ve been great representation was repeatedly downplayed as a very epic platonic love between Sherlock and John. This past season even ending with them raising John’s daughter together after his wife dies.

This itself is a shame as increasing the representation of minority groups like Black people or LGBT+ people increases social acceptance for said groups. Treating such characters as normal until they, in the eyes of the general public, become normal.

How To Avoid Queer Baiting

While this is more a TV and film problem than a book problem, there are ways someone writing novels and short stories can avoid it.  And thankfully, some of those ways can be accomplished in very few words.

  • Write more openly LGBT+ characters.
  • If a beta reader says it seems like a character is queer, consider just going with the idea.

That’s it. Two tips. It’s that simple.

You will always want to make sure you’re not stereotyping the characters. A muscular geek who likes sports can be Gay/Bi just as easily as a more effeminate guy. A butch seeming woman can be straight and a really feminine woman can be a Bi/Lesbian. Anyone can be asexual etc.

Recommended Books

In my opinion, the definitive book about this is Writing The Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. Give it a try and see what you think about it. At the very least, you’ll learn some interesting methods for being more inclusive in your writing.

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc.

Have a happy Pride!


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Watching: N/A

Listening To: Nightwish| Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

Genre 101|Horror

Horror

Horror is one of my favorite genres to read and write. I see beauty in it. A dark beauty. A terrifying beauty. But nonetheless, it’s a form of beauty all the same.
It’s also hard for new writers to write.

What is Horror?

Horror is a genre of writing that seeks to scare the reader. To frighten, terrify, disturb, and cause discomfort. It’s the punch to the gut or slow and impending sense of doom creeping up on an unsuspecting person in written form.

A good Horror story can give you goosebumps and make you shiver long after you’ve read it. Or even be the reason for a sleepless night or nightmares.

What topics can Horror cover?

Anything. I know that isn’t very helpful. However, it’s also true. A Horror story, be it short or long, can cover any topic.

You want to explore the romance and love? You can explore romance and love in such a way that you disturb the reader. Want to explore space-vampires? You can explore that. The psyche of a serial killer? Growing up in a cult? Yes and yes. The sky is the limit when it comes to the topics a Horror writer can explore.

A Very Brief History of Horror

Horror as a genre got its start as the scary legends surrounding disturbing places and beings. The ones that acted as warnings of what not to do and where to go. And for much of human history that is what Horror was.

Then Horace Walpole wrote Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel. Gothic Fiction would become a hit, giving rise, over time, to the Horror genre as we know it today. The genre of Poe, Tananarive Due, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Clive Barker and many others. Of a creeping sense od dread and heart-stopping fear.

Horror Writing Tips

  • Use your own fears as story fodder.
  • Horror is a “what if…” genre.
  • Read lots of Horror stories.
  • Horror is more than gore and viscera.
  • Think outside the dark, terrifying box.

Recommended Craft Reading

On Writing Horror edited by Mort Castle

Now Write Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction edited by Laurie Lamson

Horror Upon Horror by Suzanne Ruthven

Recommended Horror Books

The Monster’s Corner edited by Christopher Golden

Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

You probably noticed that two out my three recommended Horror books deals with vampires. I’ve got a bit of a thing for vampires. When done in a scary or disturbing manner, they make for excellent protagonists or villains in a Horror story. Alien viruses, a subspecies of human that needs our blood to survive, demons, eternal serial killers. They can be viewed in so many different ways.

However, if vampires aren’t someone’s thing I would recommend Affinity by Sarah Waters (Amazon Link.) and Zombie by Joyce Carol Oats (Amazon Link.). The first is a Gothic Horror novel set in the 19th century and the second follows the evolution of a serial killer. Both are pretty good and disturbing in their own rights.

Until next time. I can be found on Facebook, Twiter, and Pinterest. Feel free to strike up a conversation, recommend a book to read, request topics etc. All that really fun stuff. I enjoy talking to people.


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Watching: N/A

Listening To: Nightwish| Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

Monthly Catch-up| May 2017

May 2017 was, well, May. It wasn’t especially eventful except for a deer munching on our garden and one of our chickens getting injured. I blame what seems like an extreme amount of rain. There were a lot of days where it looked like the Ferengi homeworld from Star Trek every time it was shown. Dark, muddy, and no end to the rain in sight. June isn’t shaping up to be much better so far.

The chicken now lives in the garage in a dog kennel because she can never go back in with the others. She’ll have special lighting in the winter, but she is getting stronger every day.

I did start rereading Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (Amazon Link.), and the read is going really well. I’m hoping to maybe review it on the blog sometime this month.

Other than that, the most exciting thing to happen to me was making a sourdough culture with one of my nieces and getting a lavender plant.


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Watching: The Dark Crystal

Listening To: Nightwish| Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

More Than A Writer

More Than A Writer

There’s more to life than being a writer. Sounds heretical, blasphemous even. How can someone who blogs about writing and claims to be a writer herself say that?

Well, it’s simple really. Much as we may want to just sit in a coffee shop, our office, at a table just write every single day. We can’t. Life get’s in the way of doing that. Whether it be going to see the doctor, family events or obligations, dates with the significant other, getting sick or anything else. Life continuously throws us curveballs that stop us from spending our lives just writing.

Does that mean we shouldn’t follow that oft-quoted advice to write every day? No. There’s value in sitting down and writing something each day. It could be a poem. It could be a paragraph of a story. It could be a few words of a story. Writing every day helps keep us inspired. But it does mean we have to accept that other things will come along and prevent us from writing as much as we want on a given day.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I started this post the way I did. Am I just being contrary and difficult in order to mess with you?

No. I’m not. I fully believe that writing every day is a great personal goal. But allowing writing to consume our lives isn’t healthy. We need to interact with others and experience life, both as people and as writers. Living life instead of merely existing for the sake of being able to write adds a depth to our writing it may not otherwise have. It aids in the ability to write emotions well. It aids in our ability to describe settings. And it gives us a chance to work out the problems in whatever we’re writing at a given point in time, which helps us when it comes to editing.

So if you find yourself being consumed by writing, take a walk. Go to a party. Go to the museum. Take up painting and set time aside for that in addition to writing. Go out with friends or to a family gathering.

Live life. You’re more than a writer. You’re the protagonist of your own story.

I can be found on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.


Reading/Watching/Listening To

Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Watching: The Dark Crystal

Listening To: Nightwish| Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!