In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt ‘Pens and Pencils’.
I’ve tried writing by hand over the last few weeks, as the pile of papers in the orange Foolscap box in my room will attest. It has been an interesting experience and one that has been rewarding, wiping away the effects of the longest ‘block’ in my writing I’ve ever had. I finished writing the first draft of Girl With A Thousand Faces in April 2013. In the time between then and now all I’ve written have been a few short stories and some attempts at novels that have all been aborted before they reached the 10,000 word mark. Although attempt to revise a novel that was inherently broken was also an issue, I think the major problem was A-Levels. The soul sucking monster that a large percentage of the teenage population must endure.
It was made harder by two things:
– My school wasn’t the most academic of places. Learning wasn’t the focus and nor was getting good grades. It was like an oasis of teenage misery and time wasting sometimes, counting down the days until freedom could be had.
– The grades I needed to achieve in order to get into my chosen university were considerably lower than their standard offer. Their course for my subject is often ranked in the top three in the country, it’s incredibly hard to get into. My offer was three grades below their standard offer. That meant that the pressure was only on in terms of one of the subjects, especially due to a teaching issue that came up in the final year. But it also meant that I was concerned about feeling like a charity case if I only achieved those lower grades. I worked hard and I did achieve the standard offer and was pretty close to exceeding it — think I would have thrashed it if there hadn’t been those teaching issues and the pesky remoderation of coursework. Anyway, the point is I was in a difficult position as most of the people here at uni went to incredible schools and have had the best chance to achieve academically; I did not.
This has extended into something that isn’t focused on the prompt anymore and I feel like I should quickly apologise for that. Oops, sorry. But the point is that writing by hand, around 80 pages I would imagine, has allowed me to free my muse over the last few weeks. It has been a frankly invaluable experience.
Of course, it does take considerably more time which is an issue. Spending days writing one scene can become frustrating, especially when there is little time for writing. For that reason I’m slowly moving back towards using the computer for writing.
We’ll see how that goes…