J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."



So, I’ve rediscovered writing in long-hand…..

…..something I’d always done up until about seven years ago, when I switched entirely to writing my novels and scripts directly onto a Word or Final Draft document.  This was in large part due to a trauma that affected me in such a way that writing in long-hand felt too intimately connected to my brain.  It would take three novels and a stage script before I found my way back to using pen on lined paper again.

Imagine trying to implement corrections using a typewriter!

I think it would be fair to say that the project that drew me back to writing in long-hand was, perhaps, a little ironic.  The setting of the story is in the 1920s, decades before computers would replace the typewriter, a time when pencil or pen was also a more commonly used method to write down ideas, create poetry, stories and develop essays.  This particular story is about passion, sensuality and love between two people, a particularly intimate story that has presented many challenges.

Pen sketch; note the rather arrogant look in his eye.

And that’s how writing long-hand is to me – an act of pure intimacy between the mind and the page.  I love watching as the ink swirls across the page, forming words or shapes or quick sketches of horses.  It’s almost never planned, those words or images – I often allow myself to go into a kind of trance and allow my subconscious to go where it wills.  There’s something hypnotic about the way my pen feels in my hand, pressed against paper, as I try to keep up with the story playing out in my imagination.

Which is not always easy to do.

And which is always the challenge.

So, I have my favorite tools of the trade……

……for writing, some of which are easy to throw into my backpack and some that require a little more planning before leaving the house.

What will you find in my back pack? Typically, a couple of notebooks or blank composition books, loose leaf, college-lined paper in a folder and a couple of paperbacks (fiction or non-fiction or both) to escape into when the words fail to materialize. Open up the smaller pocket of my pack and there are pens of various colors – I use black or dark blue for writing the story. The other colors I use to insert notes or questions in the margins about what I’d written, which makes it easy to see. When I travel, I take my laptop or netbook to transcribe what I’d written in longhand to the manuscript I’m currently working on.

Because I have a budget, I tend to find my pens, notebooks and composition books at any local dollar store. They work the same and are easy on the wallet. Occasionally, however, I will indulge and buy some really nice blank books at places like Barnes & Noble. Those usually end up as gifts to fellow writers or to those who had expressed a desire to write.

I prefer writing in longhand, as I find that I tend to sink into the world of my story and characters a little faster. The downside is that I can’t keep up with my thoughts and my hand pays the price in stiffness and cramping. Unlike Bobbi Anderson in Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers, I haven’t found a way to write via telepathy to my typewriter (or computer, for that matter).

What are your favorite writing tools?

Left to right - Laptop, blank book, netbook, pens, typewriter, composition books.
Left to right – Laptop, blank book, netbook, pens, typewriter, composition books.

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