Why writing longhand with pen and paper could be a good thing?

How many of you write your content using pen and paper before actually getting it onto other platforms for publishing?

If you do write using pen and paper, it’s great and would love to hear your thoughts about it.

For most of us, we’d probably write on computers. I write predominantly on computers too. It’s just a much more powerful tool, more convenient, and probably could write much faster.

However, due to the nature of my work, technology burnout is inevitable. For several days during this week, I couldn’t bring myself to use a computer or even my phone to write anything. Yet, there’s a book that need writing.

This was how the decision to reintroduce pen and paper into my writing life came about. I got a lecture pad and a black ballpoint pen. Then I got down to writing.

The experience was definitely painful at first because it’s been a while since I wrote longhand using pen and paper. After finding my handwriting in a total mess and my hand aching badly, I decided to use the pen correctly and even went to google for the right way to hold the pen or pencil for that matter. Then it was time to put it into practice.

I would say there were definitely some good and bad that came out of this process.

For me, it has been therapeutic. The chance to get away from technology is just great for my mental health.

Further more, I could focus better on my writing because there’s no internet involved. No Netflix. No music. No internet browser. If you put your technological devices out of reach, you have no choice but focus on the act of writing and the story you want to tell.

The second advantage come in the form of deliberate writing. Because writing on paper meant it’s nearly impossible to change what you wrote. Unless you want to leave behind lines after lines of strikethroughs or whiteouts, every word you want to put down on paper have to be the right word. This slows down your writing and forces you to think. This has the added advantage of allowing you to identify if there’s loopholes or problems with your content. This is especially helpful for me as a pantser because I won’t run astray with my writing and create plot holes.

The third advantage was that it’s just more natural. You can do whatever you want. Scribble along the margin of the page. Skip lines. Doodle. The freedom meant you could explore your ideas and thoughts in a more natural and faster way rather than having to conform to what the computer and software forces you to do.

The fourth advantage is the permanence of the content. Unless your notebook or lecture pad end up getting soak, caught fire or the pieces of paper blown away by the wind, you can always trust that your content won’t go away. That’s unlike when you are using a computer to write. Machine can fail. Storage devices, including cloud storage, can fail or corrupt your data.

But not everything is all so shiny and great.

The biggest disadvantage with using pen and paper is the speed of writing. Your arms and hands don’t move as fast when you have to draw out the arches and lines associated with latin characters whereas with a computer, a key press means a letter. Because of that, I find it much harder to get into the flow.

The second disadvantage is you can’t edit the content like you could on the computer. Every word that you write on paper is permanently set in stone, so to speak. If you want to change something, you have to strike out what you wrote or use whiteouts. And if you are like me who makes quite a lot of mistakes when writing, you will find that your paper may end up becoming a complete mess and hard to comprehend.

As for portability, it doesn’t concern me. I always bring a backpack when I go to work and I could just shove the lecture pad in it. And when it comes to publishing, well, since I’m writing a novel, it would be much later in the writing process that I have to type them all out. With that, I’d probably do my editing concurrently. So I get to kill two birds with one stone.

Now, I won’t say every writer should write longhand using pen and paper. For most people, it would be very tedious and tiring. So if you prefer to write using your computer, then by all means do that. At the end of the day, the most important thing is getting your content out for your audience to consume and encourage them to come back for more. But if you find that your computer is getting in the way of you doing your work, then maybe it’s time to go old-school.

Writing about the things you love

As writers, especially if you write non-fiction, it can be difficult to think of a topic to write about.

Let’s take Minimalism as an example.

It’s something that I came across last year as part of my self re-discovery process. It was something that resonate with me, especially the part on paring down your things, bringing into focus the intentionality behind everything you do and making sure they align with what you want out of life. It contributed in bringing me out of depression, made my life more simple and bring the things that I enjoy back into the picture.

And yet, I found it a struggle to write more about it because it’s not something that I’m truly passionate about. The other truth is, I’m better skilled now at keeping in focus what brings me joy. So the process of minimising has become so automatic that I don’t think of it as a struggle. I just couldn’t think of a noteworthy story to share and hopefully help someone else.

But you don’t see me stop there. I still write. What I have learnt is there is always something lurking around in your mind. It can be a simple observation, a sudden realisation, or something you heard. That’s how I manage to squeeze out this article late at night.

And what if you ask, “Bran, there’s really nothing?”

Well, then my response would be, write about something that you love.

And what could that thing be?

In my case, I love Apple and their products (but not a fanatic). I love to play video games (not a fanatic either). I also love technology despite my current misgivings about the software development industry. I care about the environment. Then there’s science, medicine, engineering, human psychology, design, etc. that I like too.

That means I could draw on those topics to write something. And the ideas can come at very weird times. For example, an idea came just when I woke up from a nap. It wasn’t well-formed but the title came up. This was how I got down to write this article titled “The platform doesn’t matter until it does…

And was it a good piece? I think so, at least based on the metrics I’ve got. And I kind of stop caring that much about how good it is when it goes up.

So you have to find the thing you love and give your opinion about it. And don’t care about how well it does. The reason why I read stuff from a particular writer is not because I enjoy everything he or she writes about but rather because I like the writer’s voice. Could be honest, could be humorous or generally very nice/sweet/gentle. Or maybe I just love the writing style.

Moreover, your writing has to be truthful and doesn’t lead someone astray. Do the necessary research before writing.

Lastly, don’t fret so much about what to write. Relax, have a cup of tea, coffee or your favourite beverage, and do something else.

The platform doesn’t matter until it does…

Writers these days are spoiled.

They are spoiled because recent development in technology has given rise to online platforms that allow writers to put their work out for the world to see. From Blogger to WordPress to the more recent Medium, writers are mostly free from having to deal with middleman that served as gatekeepers to the big publication houses.

But those platforms actually don’t matter.

They are just tools, just like the pens and papers, nails and hammers, etc. The platforms don’t dictate your writing. Only you do. As a writer, your main job is to write. To put the ideas that are swimming in your head out into words for others to see. If you aren’t doing that, then no platforms is going to help. Just like the pens and papers that are going to sit in some dark corners if your hands don’t reach for them and use those tools.

And after you are done writing, only then the platforms matter. You have to use them to publish your work out for the world to see.

If you don’t understand the rules of the platform, you writings aren’t going to see the light of the day even if you hit that publish button. The platform’s flawed algorithms are going to decide that your writings aren’t worth anyone’s time and don’t bring them out for the world to see. And algorithms can change depending on the platform owner.

And now, the time you’ve spent on writing that great piece of article, essay or poem is wasted because no one is reading it.

So your role as a writer now has more responsibilities.

You have to go out there and reach out to other writers on the platforms. To comment on their writings, to like their writings, or just to say hi. Only then, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs that hopefully grab someone’s attention and bring them to your creations.

And being on just one platform isn’t enough. Neither is being on many platforms. You have to be on the right kind of platform that has the right kind of writers and readers that will contribute to your growth as a writer.

Now you see, the platform doesn’t matter until it does…

Writing horror is true horror until…

I enjoy science-fiction, especially those space opera types. And I also enjoy science fiction stories that comes with a touch of fantasy. Like zombies in a spaceship invading another world or humans with super-human powers typically found in comic books who are part of a space-faring civilisation. There are just so many variations that I can’t list them all. So, I could only hope you get what I’m trying to say.

Now, because I love science fiction so much, I also enjoy writing such stories. Since I read so much science fiction, it’s almost second nature to me when it comes to writing them.

Then I decided to write Murderous House, a LGBT-themed horror/suspense short story.

All I had was this idea in my mind about two boys in a house and it had to be a scary story.

Then I got down writing.

When the first few words came out, I was horrified. I realised I didn’t know how to write a good horror story. During my school days, my teachers were always saying don’t write horror stories for our English Composition because it’s one of the hardest thing to write. You have to consider your pacing, the fictional world, the characters, word choices, etc. So I avoided that genre for a long time.

My thought was, if you don’t get nightmares from the process of writing a horror story, then you don’t know horror.

Then the words keep coming. Keep coming. Like blood flowing from an open wound that refuse to stop. Good thing was, it didn’t drown me. And I’m glad with how it turn out even after very little editing.

And after part 1 of Murderous House went up, another friend of mine, told me it was super refreshing to see me write that. And that it showed my versatility as a writer.

That really make me day.

So now it’s less horrifying for me to write part 2 because I’m more confident.

Your kind of writing

Since we are individuals, we have our own comfort zone or the thing that we are think we are good at as writers. Some writers are just more interested in crafting poems and spend most of their time honing that craft. Some are more interested in working with factual stuff and so they take up journalism or technical writing. And some are interested in crafting fictional worlds and stories. This is where we get our short stories and wonderful works like Lord of the Rings, War of the Worlds, etc.

For me, well, it took me a while before I settle down on where I want to take my writing. These past few months, I’ve read dozens of articles and essays written by other people which made me realise the only kind of writing I’m comfortable with is sharing my own life story and using it to help me navigate through my feelings and thinking. All the disappointments, the sadness, the angsts, the joys and lastly, the thoughts that I have about certain things.

The other kind of writing that got me going was writing fiction. I love crafting stories, especially science fiction ones. And now I’m attempting to craft horror stories. But I’m well aware that I’m not a published author yet. Even then, it doesn’t stop me from writing and putting them up. Whether it get one view or ten views, it doesn’t matter.

So now you know why my blog doesn’t have a set theme or topic. The kind of posts I put up are seemingly everywhere. All because those were the things I was thinking about or have tried and wanted to share something about it. And when it’s time for short story or novels, I put those up here too. It’s why the url is wordsfromturbulenthill.com.

And what’s your kind of writing? Are you a poet whose words can moves the earth and make the sky cry? Or are you technical writer who can move people in the management of a company to take action? Or are you a script/fiction writer who can tell a great story that inspires people or get them to live a different life in their mind?