Adding up the scribbles

I hadn’t written a word for weeks.  Granted, there were a few scribblings here and there: jottings on the back of a shopping list; scrawled phrases on a post-it; the odd page or two of disjointed notes.  Not real writing.  So I told myself, and I didn’t enjoy the telling.

Then I gathered them all together.  I began to type them up, expand them, string them together.

Um, I still haven’t finished.  The scribbles add up, you see.  They are the writing, quite as much as the hours spent at the desk.  Probably more so, because they aren’t punctuated by long periods of staring into space and reading other people’s words.

And although I’d already learnt that the scribbles add up to something bigger, I was fortunate enough to receive validation from elsewhere in the same week.  Mother’s Milk Books have awarded one of my pieces a Commended in their recent competition.  Cue much rejoicing!

I tell you this because it illustrates the point beautifully.  You see, I remember when I wrote the beginnings of that piece, and it wasn’t at my desk or even in the house.  I was tramping the fields in my wellies, watching the crows wheeling overhead and thinking about circles.  I’ve learnt to keep a tattered notebook and a pencil in my coat pocket on these walks, and I kept stopping and adding another phrase, another image.  What they were going to become I wasn’t sure, but I kept scribbling all the same.  (By the way, it’s always a pencil, never a pen.  Pencils don’t run out or leak in your pocket.)

And those images became a piece I was proud of, a piece that someone else enjoyed.  They were real writing, after all.

Yes, we need time to mould the jottings and the scribblings into their final form, but we can always be writing, wherever we are.  Mud optional.

I lied in my last post

I said typing was faster than writing by hand.  Now I’m disagreeing with myself.

If I was taking dictation or copying out someone else’s words, typing would win every time, even though I never learnt to do it ‘properly’.  And when I type up my handwritten scribblings, it takes a lot less time than it took to scribble them in the first place.  (Maybe half as long, if today’s anything to go by.)

But there’s something about movement that makes ideas flow faster.

When I go for a walk, after about half an hour I suddenly have to keep stopping to note down all the random ideas that pop into my head.  And when my hand is moving across the page clutching a pen, somehow I feel more connected to whatever part of my brain it is that brings the ideas.  I may not be physically writing faster, but I’m able to produce more content, more quickly.

Writing by hand connects me to myself; using the computer has the danger of making me too connected to the rest of the world!