The Page a Day Writers Group

Lovin’ Longhand

Posted on: March 2, 2010

For people like me, who may have a touch of ADHD, access to digital information can be disastrous to discipline. To sit at the computer writing is to constantly feel the pull of “surfing,” email, facebook or twitter. It takes extraordinary willpower for us, the dearly distracted, to focus on the writing task at hand without succumbing to digital information sabatoge. I love the exploding wealth of ideas on the Internet, but if I don’t compartmentalize it- and physically remove myself from it- the ever-increasing metaswirl of minds meeting takes me down too many tangential roads.

I’ve written so much more since I’ve unplugged. After checking email and then whirling around the Internet for 20 minutes or so, I move to another desk. Card table, actually. Yes, I actually get up from my computer and walk away. Sometimes I leave the house to write but usually I just move over to my trusty green card table. I call it my poetry desk but it’s no longer just for poetry. It still feels poetic, though. I’m writing in longhand. I’m looking out the window into our postage stamp orchard- budding fig, peach, cherimoya. Hard-working poetry and prose- my hand is moving across the page, word by word, listening to the birds. Yes, I must give Anne Lamott a shout- Bird by Bird. I cross things out but often I don’t even bother- I just keep moving forward, knowing that when I sit down to the computer, that will be revision time.

Nestled between bookshelves, my green card table is alive with strands of thought like spider webs all over it. Memories, both real and imagined. Cream-colored candles, stacks of books of all kinds, journals, photo albums, a wooden horse, a flying pizza man, butterflies, rocks from everywhere I’ve been, a box of fluff, angels, a painting of a toucan, yarn. I suppose these things could distract me, too, like the Internet, but somehow they don’t. Rather than fragmenting my energy, they solidify me; they are all pieces of a time and place on my journey to now. I’m enjoying life in the longhand lane- and I love flipping through my inky pages.

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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6 Responses to "Lovin’ Longhand"

I have the same problem, but writing longhand makes me crazy, so I write on my AlphaSmart rather than on my computer. That way I can’t be tempted to jump on the information superhighway and get lost.

Yes, I also adore my AlphaSmart! Same concept- minimize temptation/distraction. But longhand is really lovely sometimes; a change in muscle use, too. But all in the right hand… hmm- I can’t forget to stretch my hands.

Thanks for the comment, Chicki!

I often wonder how writers accomplished anything without spell check, cut-and-paste and all the other goodies we take for granted in our chosen word processing programs. I doubt that I could sit for very long with a tablet and pen in hand, but I definitely agree that turning off the Internet helps with getting words on the paper.

I’m on call for jury duty and while they’ll let you bring your laptop to the courthouse, there is no Internet connection in the jury room. When I found this out, I thought — hurray, maybe I actually get some writing done.

I’m so glad you’re able to get some writing done while on call for jury duty!

Yes, cut & paste is sorely lacking in longhand, except for when I get out my scissors and jar of paste. I’m kidding! :O
I guess I’ll have to save revision for “transcribing” my longhand into a word doc… But it really is nice to stare at paper instead of a screen for a change.

Wow! Actually writing something all out longhand?!? You are a better woman than I, Ondine!

I can plot longhand. Maybe squeak out some dialogue and ideas for stage directions/setting description. Beyond that, I’m toast.

I think I have some kind of bizarre disconnect between my brain and my hand when holding a pen. My handwriting looks like I’m psychotic, or that I should have gone to medical school.

I should get one of those AS thingies though. I have a little Internet problem too! 🙂

You make longhand sound romantic. The only time I get a chance to write longhand is when I’m waiting in the car for my daughter to finish a tennis clinic. At home, I turn off the Internet and email functions so I can focus on whatever writing I’m working on. Hmm. Is ADHD really common with writers? I have it, too.

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The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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