Monday, December 16, 2013

How I Stopped Crying over my Computer and Learned to Love the Pen

About two weeks ago, my computer went down. It made me lose out on things I wanted to do, such as illustrating for the winter issue of Under the Juniper Tree Magazine or posting for Insecure Writers Support Group. I didn't even get to post the announcement about my novsketches.

I had to email the art director at Juniper Tree and tell her I wasn't able to participate this issue. I hated doing that. I hated not posting for IWSG. I really hated not being able to get back to people about their novsketches, but when computer trouble happens, you're very rarely prepared for it.

The good thing about all this computer trouble is that it's led to a massive breakthrough with my YA novel. Here's the story.

The first few days without my pc, I read voraciously, watched too much tv, and greatly lamented my digital loss. Then, I had an epiphany. Before I had my computer, I wrote all my stories longhand in notebooks. If it worked for me then, there was no reason it wouldn't work for me now. So, I took up a ballpoint pen, and a notebook that still had empty pages in it. I sat myself down on the couch as the snow fell outside, and wrote. First it was a scene, then it was another. I found myself eager to get home from work so I could write. The spark I'd been missing for over a year was back and there was no stopping it. By the time my computer was fixed, I had a brand spankin' new opening chapter for my novel - one I knew would hook the reader in the jaw and not let go til they were invested. And it didn't stop there.

When I got access to my pc again, I went straight to Word, pulled up the rest of the manuscript, and tore into it. I deleted and rewrote nearly all my former first chapter, changing scenes, removing anything unneeded, and stripping descriptions down to their most vital words.

I felt reborn, like I'd cracked open the dusty shell of creativity and this new firey self sprang out - a self who'd forgotten how much she loved to write, a self who'd been so trapped by her own words, she forgot she could change them. Now she was free and once again madly in love with her story.

I learned from this experience that all the digital clutter can just get in the way, and completely stifle my creativity and love for writing. I may be on top of my blog or gathering new followers on Twitter, but it isn't as important as the writing itself. The stories need to be written, the worlds need to be built, the characters need to live and grow and struggle.

I'm going to use my sick computer as an excuse to focus on what's important right now, and that's family, work, reading, and this glorious dance that is revision. (I never ever thought I'd be happy about revising, but I'm so happy! You have no idea!)

Whatever your plans are this month, I hope you have a great one, and may the joy of writing be with you always.

Merry Christmas! And if I don't post until then, Happy New Year!


  1. I love drafting by hand. I'm always more productive that way.

  2. I LOVE revision, almost more than the initial draft. Well, depends on the draft. I used to abhor first drafts, anxious to get onto the next...that is, before I started serious plotting.

    Back on topic, I had that same experience with computer issues and resorting to a pen and paper. It was this total epiphany: Oh yeah, I can write with this thing. LOL! It's amazing, eh?

  3. It really makes you consider your words more.


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