Monday, January 2, 2012

Could it be that we're writing too fast?

Could the computer be making us write too fast? And, with its inherent distractions, maybe that means we'd write better if we slow down. A 2012 conundrum for sure.

Here's a look at some writers who don't use the computer, at least for certain parts of their writing work.

Novelist Orhan Pamuk, a favorite of mine, is Turkey's best-selling writer, and with his Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Turkish citizen to be awarded a Nobel. His prize-winning works are not composed on a computer, but in a graph paper notebook. He likes to write one full page, and then leave the next one open for revisions. Using his notebooks, Pamuk relishes in the absence of a backspace button, and the opportunity to capture inspiration when it strikes.

For bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, her blogging is best done on the computer, but for novels, only pen and paper will do. She doesn't use a computer or even a typewriter, instead using a Bic pen and sheets of unlined paper. Gerritsen is quite comfortable composing articles and other pieces at the keyboard, but for her, fiction is a completely different matter. She struggles to make things work while writing novels on the computer, finding that she hardly finishes a thing at the end of the day because she's spent too much time "perfecting them." But beyond that, Gerritsen values pen and paper for its physical properties: "I like knowing that once the ink’s on the page, it can’t magically disappear when the power goes out.

Michael Ondaatje, the award-winning novelist behind The English Patient, prefers Muji brand notebooks over computers when it comes to writing his works. But interestingly enough, Muji notebooks actually come with a lot of the same functionalities as MS Word, allowing Ondaatje to cut and paste his novels as he goes along. Unlike other pen and paper authors who ultimately transfer their works into type, Ondaatje has been known to compose up to three drafts by hand on his notebooks.

Thanks to our online friends for this research.

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