Cursive is Queen: Power of Pen, Pencil and Paper

I notice I write with a pencil and paper when I really need to connect to my words and my story.

It’s old school. Maybe. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and thousands of authors penned their stories, literally.

How many would have chosen the computer if it were available? Plenty. I am using a keyboard over 90% of the time. But when I am stuck. When the image of a fictional scene is in my head but the words to carry my vision to the page are jumbled, stuck or blurry, I leave the screen, pull out paper (usually a yellow legal pad) and pencil and write by hand, in cursive.

I feel tightly connected to my writing when I do it manually.

The writing isn’t perfect. Lines are crossed out. Words are squeezed between spaces. Arrows go this way and that. And sometimes there are doodles in the margins; if I leave any margins.

When the page or pages goes beyond see-able because of the editorial rewriting, I get anxious. I flip on the computer screen and clack away at my keyboard once more, happy I have the technology to polish a work with ease and speed.

But I wonder about the writers who did it all by hand. I wonder how they got it right in a draft or two. How powerful was their connection to their words, their visions, their souls and to the pen in their hands and the paper under their palms.

One of my favorite movie scenes is the beginning of Shakespeare In Love. William Shakespeare is in a garret trying to write. He’s lost his muse, which is the conflict of the story. But his fingers draw my attention. The ones holding his quills are black, stained by the ink. His nails are gray. They look like those of a car mechanic’s. What toil. What labor. What concentration.

What a symbol for the writing process.




It’s 3 A.M. Why am I awake?

I notice the quiet darkness of early morning.  A bit of muffled traffic noise filters through my open window as I wonder if it’s better to get out of bed and really wake up or stay in one spot and hope to fall asleep again within seconds.

Depending on my schedule in the morning, waking up at 3 a.m. can be unnerving. A good night’s sleep for me is as restorative as all the hype says it is. Some nights, however, I wake up far too early. The mental argument of whether sleep will reoccur within moments or get up and do something since I am awake anyway keeps me…awake.

The resolution? Get up. Go to my writing room and curl up in my easy chair. Get out paper, pencil or turn on the computer and write.

Whether it is the muse, the moon, the subconscious or the quiet, working in combination or individually to stimulate the flow of ideas and details to create words, blog entries or stories, I don’t know. I like to believe it is all that and something more that doesn’t have a name.

The smartest thing I can do when I can’t get back to sleep is head to my writing space. Answer the call. Trust that there is a reason, one deeper that I can understand, at work here to get me to the words.

The practice is full proof. I am never disappointed in what I create between 3 and 5 in the morning.

Before I began this entry, I generated a list of 26 topic possibilities for this blog. It’s rich fodder for future compositions. Best of all, I started my day with my own writing, even if I head back to sleep for a couple more hours.