From Writer to Scribe – Proof Handwriting Can = Creativity

I’ve been hearing the experts say that they all start by handwriting their stories before taking to the keyboard.┬áMost of them confess to writing an average of 100 pages into a book before they switch over to their preferred tech.

They also say they always travel with small notes or their journals to be able to write down wayward thoughts, unexpected ideas or dialogue while eavesdropping.

I will admit, as much as I say I want to live the life of a writer, I confess with some shame that I do not employ these strategies or follow these solid fragments of writing wisdom.

I do keep journals with tons of ideas, story beginnings (more of them than I care to count) – but for the most part, the writing in my journals or notebooks happens while I am sitting in front of the laptop staring at the blank page.

This maybe why I have struggled with forward movement lately. This maybe why I have been story-hopping from one unfinished manuscript to the next – I’ve clearly lacked direction.

This morning, despite having decided I would sleep in during my Fall break from school, I popped out of bed at 8:11 a.m. and decided why not just stay up. I felt unusually awake and didn’t even feel a need to pump myself full of caffeine to start my writing day. I simply made the necessary stop at the bathroom, concluded my morning routine and headed – not to the laptop – but grabbed a brand new notebook I had bought at an office supply depot the previous day, I reached for the nearest pen (without scrutiny for type or color) and began the first sentence that had prompted my out of bed.

Once my hand leaned onto the soft white of the page and the sharpness of the pen’s tip scraped across the light blue lines of the college-ruled paper, something entirely different took over my hand, my brain and my direction. I found it difficult to stop or even slow down. My fingers struggling to keep up with the words pouring out and filling each page, one after another, after another. Not much care for word choice – something that too often paralyzes me when I am typing out a first draft – there was very little attention to structure in a conscious way. I trusted this character in my head that was guiding me through her story – I listened as she dictated and instead of the writer, I became her scribe. I stopped focusing all my efforts on being the storyteller – you see as the main storyteller I had to keep asking myself the tedious and often futile question: what would my character do next?

As a scribe, I was no longer in charge. She was and I wrote it. She felt and I say so. She pondered, questioned, lost herself in a stream of consciousness and I followed, writing it all down FOR HER, not for me. You see, this girl doesn’t care about style, structure, plot points, or adverbs, synonyms or beautiful prose – this girl has gone through something and she just wants to tell her story in the hopes that someone out there will listen, connect, learn and heal – perhaps in a way she never could.

And so, instead of heading to the keyboard, where I am instantly reminded that I am trying to be a writer, I will pull out her journal again and continue to trace the events of her story as she decides to lay them out for me; for us. I will try my hand at handwriting, like the experts the way Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman suggest we ought to.