The Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015

At the beginning of a new year, we typically look forward to the year ahead. Sometimes, though, it is helpful to look back in order to see how far you have come, and evaluate how you did in the past year. I examined my top 20 posts this past year and found that readers read a good mixture of craft and marketing, as well as some of my more personal writing-life posts. In case you missed any, here are the Best of The Goose’s Quill 2015. Enjoy!

  1. When The Hero Is Not The Protagonist
  1. What Big Question Do You Write To Answer?
  1. How To Measure Growth As A Writer
  1. Our Characters’ Other Lives
  1. Adventures In The Land of Zal
  1. Marketing: Doing The Things You Don’t Want To Do
  1. Book Trailer Beginnings
  1. The Truth About Your Productivity
  1. Anticipation Angst and Announcement
  1. The New To-Do List
  1. Introverts, Extroverts, and Social Pain
  1. The Insidious Persistence of Grief
  1. My Biggest Takeaway: 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference
  1. Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: My Annual Oil Change
  1. Writing Longhand: A Generational Divide
  1. Working Vacation: Yes or No?
  1. Empathy: Curse or Blessing?
  1. Revising My Writing Process
  1. Marketing Bits and Pieces

And my #1 post of 2015:

  1. THE WITCH OF ZAL Cover Reveal and Surprise!


Thank you for reading in 2015—I hope you continue to join me in 2016!

Writing Longhand: A generational divide?

Last week, I talked about changing my writing process because my current process wasn’t working well anymore. One of the changes I made was returning to longhand for some of my writing. I outlined the reasons for this last week, but the two main reasons are:

1) Longhand writing engages my creativity in a different way than typing.

2) I do not get hung up on the typed words on the page.

It’s been shown that writing longhand does engage different parts of your brain than typing on a screen. I know that the writing I produce is significantly different writing longhand vs. on screen. For me, there is something soothing about the feel of smooth paper under my hand as I write. I love the feel of the pen sinking into the paper. Watching my words appear on the page when handwriting is a creative thrill that I do not get when typing. Perhaps it is akin to artists seeing their drawing or painting come to life from their fingertips.

I know that once I type something, my brain has trouble revising it with sufficient depth. I get stuck on the words on the page. I grew up in a time prior to computers (we got our first PC when I was in high school), so I remember vividly that when you typed up your final paper on a typewriter that was it. NO CHANGES. And all of my life, those black words on a white page have signified a final printed product—a newspaper, a magazine, a book. So I wonder if I have subconsciously equated the black-on-white Times New Roman of my computer screen as somehow a “finished” product. I do not have this revision paralysis problem with longhand pages—crossouts, arrows, and numbered citations abound. It’s very freeing.

What surprised me last week was that a number of writers mentioned to me that they, too, were considering a return to longhand writing as part of their process. All of us were my age or older—in other words, we teethed our writing on pen and paper. Perhaps this indicates that our brains are wired to be more artistic when returning to our creative roots. Or that we’re all technologically exhausted and crave something simpler. Or something else—what do you think?

It also got me wondering about younger writers these days—writers who grew up on computer screens and keyboards. Would this impulse to go longhand ever arise in them? So I am asking the younger generation out there: Have you ever tried to write longhand? Did you find a difference in how and what you wrote? Would you ever consider mixing longhand writing into part of your process?

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Old Fashioned: Writing with Pen & Paper

I used to write everything longhand. I still have copybooks filled with my young scribbling. But once I got to grad school, I found that between school and working full time, I had no time for the luxury of writing longhand and then typing it in. So I’ve switched to writing everything on the computer.

This year, I attended some writing sessions with Kathryn Craft. These sessions involved writing exercises. Because I don’t like lugging my laptop around, I elected to do this writing on paper. The funny thing was, I loved the experience of returning to paper.

There is something visceral in writing with pen and paper. I feel the words more intensely through my fingers. The smoothness of the paper is soothing. The pen pressing into the pulp lends the words a tangibility that the computer screen lacks. A permanence exists, too—no computer glitch will randomly erase your work!

The visual aspect of writing creates creative energy, too. Not only do the letters themselves have shapes that I am creating, I can deviate from the linear plane by writing in the margins, adding arrows, or writing sideways. This is akin to using another creative outlet such as painting or music to release writing creativity. I find that simple starting to write, even if I don’t have a clear idea where I’m headed, acts like doodling for me—and sometimes I will doodle as well, while I’m thinking.

I have found that writing on paper meshes better with the speed of my brain while doing writing exercises. Certainly, when in the writing flow state, typing is faster than writing. But when I am trying to come up with an idea, trying to create a scene or character on the spot, writing on paper is a good speed. I don’t get frustrated because my writing outpaces my ideas and leaves me staring at a blinking cursor on a blank line.

To my great surprise, I found the writing from these sessions to have a different tone from my usual writing. In many cases it was infused with a humor I struggle to find in my writing. I often felt that the writing was more powerful, even in its unedited state, than what I normally wrote. Perhaps this is a fallacy, perhaps it was because the writing was meant to be experimental and I felt less constrained, or perhaps there was a raw emotional connection facilitated by the physical connection of pen and brain.

I hope I can import this new depth, feel, and humor into my computer writing, but if I cannot, I know I can revert to the pen and paper. And whenever I am stuck, or struggling with a particular scene, I will try this simple change of medium and see what sparks in me.

Writing on pen and paper may seem old-fashioned, and certainly is no longer the norm, but it still has power and uses that should not be overlooked in our pixel-dominated lives. I look forward to incorporating it into my writing process and letting the ink flow!

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