Saturday, April 7, 2012

Guest Proser - Stefan Milićević

I want to welcome guest Proser Stefan Milićević from and Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively. Stefan is a friend from hatrack river writer's workshop, a free online workshop for writers.

If you too want to be a guest Proser, send me an email at shimiqua@gmail (dot) com. It's a great way to get to know more writers, and get more readers for your blog. 

On Writing Long Hand

Ever felt the need to rush to the keyboard and pour that awesome story onto the page? I am sure you have, and I’ll even bet that you gorged on coffee and unhealthy snacks to supply the Muse with much needed nutrition (if it actually were so, my muse would be a 400 pound couch potato).

These creative surges of inspiration often make you forge on no matter what may happen - your laptop flips you the metaphorical Blue Screen of Death finger? Reboot that sucker and keep going! Your friend is being attacked by Dalek’s? You just go ahead and tell him that that happens every so often and that if he is scared of walking trashcans possessing the vernacular of a badly violated Commodore 64 you can’t be friends anymore.

 Sorry, bro.

That’s what it’s all about, right? Feeling that amazing high, as if you are a high on sugar with a BB gun. Sure, it feels great to be the cackling puppet master on the other side of the screen, challenging your characters and seeing them prevail in the end (or not. Har, har).

However, it’s a good idea to slow down at times. Let me tell you a story. It won’t take long. I know you are eyeing that X button on your browser. Give me the benefit of the doubt.

Today I was sitting in a café with nothing but my trusty ballpoint pen and a notebook. It was a quiet place - just enough conversation in the background not to feel lonely, not to many chatterboxes that you wish to jump onto the table and throw an immature tantrum and get arrested for civil disobedience.

So, I cracked open my notebook and started scrawling away. I realized a few things:

           1.       I tend to type too damn fast.         

 That’s right. When I write in longhand my hand never stopped moving. No blinking cursor to taunt me and make me feel as if I am wasting my time. You get time to organize your thoughts while writing. Multitasking at its finest.

         2.       No internal editor.   

       Finally, a way to get rid of that pest. I considered guns, but knowing that an internal editor is... well... internal... You get my point. We all know that the first draft is somewhat of a blueprint. Fiddling around won’t even occur to you. You’ll need to retype the whole thing anyway. There’s your first editing run, right there.

        3.       No computer related distractions.

Nope. Zilch, zero, nada, garnichts,  ništa, nai. No email that calls out to you with the honey coated voice of a scantily dressed mermaid. I was away from home and didn’t even think for a second to check the web using my phone. The last time I felt so proud of myself was when I went to the potty for the first time (alone, mind you).

Now, here a couple of things you have to keep in mind. This worked for me. It might not work for you. Sometimes we do things differently because it suits us that way. Diversity is the spice of life. Also you might need to try it a couple of times...but you know what? No writing is ever wasted. It’s a great experience. 

Come on. You know you want to try it! :)


  1. I have tried this. I hand wrote my first novel. The only problem is that eventually you have to type it into the computer.

    But I agree the biggest advantage is not being connected to the internet. That really does suck up time.

    Great Post! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks!

    Call me crazy (and you wouldn't be far off doing that, really), but I enjoy typing the paper draft into the computer. It relaxes me and I can concentrate on editing.

    It can be a pain in the butt though, that's for sure.

  3. Wonderful post. I really believe the benefits of writing longhand cannot be overstated. It engages your brain in a whole different way, and losing the ability to press the backspace key is fantastic when you need to just keep going. I always find the plot going in new and more interesting directions that surprise me when I write longhand. Lately, I've been turning to pen and paper just to get away from the computer - from the internet, email, my daily dose of KenKen, and the buzz of software and formatting and rewriting the same passage fifteen times that can eat up hours and feel like progress but really isn't. I've discovered that my hand muscles are not as strong as they were when I was a kid! Ouch. Cramps.

    (In typing that paragraph I probably deleted words/phrases about 20 times as I wrote. It didn't turn out any better than it would have if I'd been hand-writing it and gone with my first thought. See what I mean?)

    I'm with you on typing into the computer, too - it can be both relaxing and help me focus on editing. As long as the stuff I'm typing in isn't too horrible :)

  4. Adding my super-secret life-changing tip: When writing longhand, if you bother with quotation marks at all, only do single quotes. For some crazy reason, the extra effort of a double quote starts to drive me batty if there's a lot of dialogue. I might be lazy, but no one ever has to see it.

  5. Great post. I've been trying to convince myself to do things longhand for a long time now, but I think I'm addicted to backspace.

    A longhand hint my nieces taught me: If you think you need to go back and do something over, don't erase, just draw a line through it and rewrite. Very often there is still a kernal of goodness in what you would have otherwise obliterated.

  6. My longhand writing muscles aren't as strong as they used to be either, Sarah. Even the thought of writing a chapter of a book longhand makes me want to wince. But I've got to do something about computer distractions...maybe I'll give it a shot. Great post, Stefan!

  7. Thanks, girls!

    And as you can see in my post, wild keyboard mashing just results in embarrassing punctuation and grammar errors!

    Commence self flagellation!


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