What’s Your Format?

I have a T-shirt that says, “Even if it’s crap, get it on the page.” That started me thinking about how I write and the mechanisms I use to get the aforementioned crap from my brain to the page (be it electronic or otherwise).

If I’m exploring ideas, making lists, or find myself hopelessly stuck, I leave my office armed with paper and pencil. I can scribble, scratch, and get my bearings away from the computer and my formal writing spot. Once I feel I’ve got something to say or I’ve found my solution, I return to the computer and transfer my work from paper to the electronic mothership.


I love my computer, and I’d be lost without it. I have valuable writing aids that I create and store on flash drives (one for each story). Plot clocks, scene tables, and chronologies are saved in separate files within the context of that one story file. I love having two monitors – I can have the scene outline on one screen while I do the actual writing on another. I can also do research without having to minimize my current draft. And I like the speed at which I can write on the computer. Hand-writing a story draft would be an exercise in frustration (and perhaps patience?) for me. So, the combo of paper/pencil and computer works best for me.

It seems that manual typewriters are making a comeback. We didn’t have computers when I took my secretarial course at the local technical college (wow, I just REALLY dated myself there). We had manual typewriters and towards the end of the term we acquired a few electric typewriters (I made it a point to get to class early to get in front of one of those). I don’t know that I could write on a manual typewriter, but many are going back, or experiencing it for the first time. There’s even a movie coming out this year (with Tom Hanks) called California Typewriter, heralding its return to popularity. I’d get too frustrated by spelling errors, wanting to change the phrase of a sentence, or move text around on the page. I’m still proud of the fact that I could type over 70 words a minute on one, though. Error free. Yeah, those were the days.



Does anyone dictate a story draft? It looks like a fascinating way to write a story, but I know my brain isn’t wired to work like that. My ideas aren’t free-flowing in an organized, linear way, and I’d probably choke my transcribing self before I got to the end of the first page.

There’s no set way to get a story from brain to page. Do whatever works for you. Even if it’s crap, get it on the page.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s