September 16th, 2007

In Hand

A few years ago I started writing in a journal on a consistent basis. It helped me through a difficult time, when I was struggling with questions of both style and substance. Starting last August, though, I started to do more of my non-directed writing on Google documents, figuring that it would be easier to repurpose my words if they were already in electronic form. What I've discovered, though, is that, although Google documents is a great place for storing back-ups and the perfect location for the notes I keep on my longer projects, the interface channels my prose down different pathways than writing by hand. As I gradually ceased to use my Moleskin journals, I could feel a door shutting inside me. But it took me a few months to perceive the causal relationship. Now I'm trying to get back in the flow by doing more by hand. And it's helping me, not only to think more clearly, but to write more fluidly on the computer. Although I belong to the first post-typewriter generation -- even my first papers in high school were composed on a word processor -- I apparently need to alternate between the screen and the page in order to be the writer I need to be.