Composition Notebooks and Never Ending Computer Screens

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April 11, 2016

This past summer, I cleaned my bedroom. In this little 13’x12’ northwest corner room I set-up my bedroom, living room, office, and library. Yeah, it doesn’t leave much room to move around in, but sometimes I have to purge the whole place in order to gain control over my floor.

I counted 48 composition notebooks. Some of them were the original black and white college-ruled kind. Classic. Others were brilliant colors with black specks and also college-ruled. But, of course there were the disgusting wide-ruled—what was I thinking? I have no idea, but wide-ruled should be blasted from the face of the Earth, but whatever.

The dumb part of all this is that 97% of them were unused. Not even a wrinkled page. A few of them had two to three pages were incoherent scribbles. Some were failed attempts at stories that I thought would take up the whole thing. I think I have two notebooks that are full. Front-to-back there is writing on every page.

I can remember writing in those two.

Seeing the deep pen marks on one page and feeling them like braille on the next page felt good. I could literally feel the progress I made. I saw it too. The more scraggily and broken a notebook looked, the more story and material filled it. I loved having a notebook that I carried around that was full.

When I’ve tried to blog in the past, I ended up posting a handful of times before losing a grip on it and letting it fade away.

Since May of 2014 when I graduated with my B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature, I’ve tried writing. My dream always sat with writing novels. And when I graduated I figured, hey more time to write! Right?

WRONG.

Well, not really wrong, but more so procrastinated. I procrastinated my friggin’ face off. Drinks with friends. Driving back country roads. Binge watching movies and TV shows. Riding horse. Eating chocolate.

When I sat down at the computer to try to write, I got a few pages down. Couldn’t see the point of my story and left it to be an orphaned dream. They’ve stacked higher than those 48 notebooks. Filled my laptop with half-cocked story ideas that didn’t pan out and wouldn’t see the light of day again.

I started to write fanfiction like my life depended on it. Long, drawn out novella-ish fanfiction. Once I sat down for five hours and wrote continuously of Sandor Clegane and Sansa Stark escaping and becoming free. But, an original story? Not a chance.

Not even during NaNoWriMo.

I know some authors write long hand the first draft or two then type it up. Personally, it sounds painful and the leading cause of carpal tunnel, but Joe Hill swears by it. Like I said, you can very literally see your progress and the work you’ve created. And when you’re typing on a Word document, the screen never ends.

You reach the bottom of a page, like I’m about to, and a new page starts before you even get there. Endlessly you’re reaching for the end of your story and it seems like it never comes because the screen doesn’t end. It’s like an empty search for the end and you never quite feel confident.

Like that old antic that you can stare at your work for days, weeks, months, and it’ll feel solid, until you turn it in and then you spot something that should be blaringly obvious. You kick yourself saying you won’t do it again, until the next time you turn in your work.

Over and over you repeat the cycle.

The weird thing is some people find so much comfort writing on an endless screen.

I’m going to try to write my next story long hand. What about the rest of you? Do you think you’ll try the opposite of whatever way you usually write? Have you tried other ways?

Share your ideas and methods! Maybe I’ll try them!

 

 

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