Now, I am a computer person. I have been typing, NOT handwriting, school notes on a computer since my sophomore year of college. Likewise, I have written almost every word of fiction first on this...
...and now this:
And you know what? I like typing, I do. It's fast; it is easily editable. Quickly made, quickly undone.
BUT--and as Pee Wee Herman would say, we all have a big BUT, so let's talk about my big BUT--I have discovered that by transferring my thoughts directly from brain to computer, I lose an important aspect in the process of Creation: Chaos.
I get in these ruts where I'm not quite sure what happens next. I know the overall arc of the story, but in the meantime a lot of little things have to happen, and a lot of minute details have to flesh out these happenings. People have to live in houses. (What kind?) Occasionally, they have to eat food. (Where? When? What?) They speak a certain way. (How?) They want things. They hate things. They love things... (What, what, what things?) It is in all of this minutiae that I begin to lose interest in a story, and the dreaded Block sets in. Last week, after a couple weeks of not working on a story I had previously been REALLY excited about, I recognized the warning signs of Block: that feeling of "I have this great story, and I have the plot all mapped out, but I would gladly pay someone to just fill in all of the stupid little details so I could get to the important plot points. And I don't want to sit and braindump into the manuscript on my computer because it will just CLUTTER IT UP..."
And that's when it hit me. I have a pretty impressive collection of mostly empty notebooks that have been given to me or I have bought thinking I will take them with me wherever I go and record all my observations. I don't do this. Ever. So these notebooks just pile up, gathering dust and waiting around to be useful. Last week as I pondered what to do about not wanting to clutter up my MS with notes, I picked up one of these notebooks--a simple, blue, spiral-bound affair--and simply began free-writing, not worrying about form, language, structure, narrative, penmanship, etc.... Just freewriting. Letting my pen echo the images in my brain. No editing. No pressure. Just...creation.
It was so. so. liberating! I discovered that I do not suffer writer's block for lack of material: the details wrote themselves almost before I could even process them. No, I suffer from fear of mediocrity. I want to put my thoughts into something perfect, or nearly so, right from their inception in my brain to the MS on my computer. Truthfully, it is a bit like trying to put a puzzle together by pulling only one piece out of the bag at a time and trying to guess where it goes. To do so is to skip that crucial, chaotic moment where you dump ALL of the pieces onto the table, sift through them, see what they are, and THEN begin to bring some order to them. You have to see them all first.
In a writerly sense, this sometimes requires closing my computer, and pulling out pen and paper and just letting things spin as they will.