Posted by: gillarbuthnott | February 24, 2011

Thankyou A4 Ruled Feint & Margin…

Does it matter what you use to write with? I sometimes get asked how I write, and people often assume that I must use a computer. In fact, all my fiction gets hand-written on A4 paper for at least the first two drafts. After that, if it’s come together properly, subsequent drafts are on computer. In contrast, my non-fiction goes straight onto the computer.

I’ve tried writing fiction straight to computer, but it doesn’t work for me. There seems to be something about the physical processes involved with ink and paper that moves my brain through a story in a way that hitting the keys doesn’t. Presumably the fact that the non-fiction doesn’t have to be written in a particular order to make sense is relevant to the fact that I can put that straight on screen: I write small self-contained sections and shuffle them into the most pleasing order, something that the computer makes wonderfully easy.

So, would my fiction be different if I threw away the pens and paper and forced myself to go electronic? Larry McMurtry thanked his typewriter when he won a Golden Globe for the screenplay of Brokeback Mountain, so clearly I’m not the only one who thinks that the mechanics affect the product. Truth is, I enjoy the process of hand-writing, and the subsequent transformation when I finally type things up.

One definite advantage of hand-writing: my writing is so bad that it’s effectively in code as far as anyone else is concerned, so I’ll never have to worry about someone pinching a manuscript and passing it off as their own!


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