Hand Writing v. s. Typing

Hullo, world!

It feels kind of weird since I didn’t do the Wednesday post, but I was sick this week (again), so I got the chance to rest up. Thinking about it, I guess the tiredness from all the senior year of high school sort of carried over. I definitely need the break, and I’m looking forward to slower pace and peace!

Today, we have a lot of exciting news! Jenna Terese, a blogger and fellow young writer I greatly admire, is going to be celebrating her second Blogiversary! Check out her blog and her post on Q&As!

Also, a wonderful human being by the name of Elana S. Zahn recently started a blog. She’s super awesome, so be sure to check out her blog as well.

Merie Shen is co-hosting a writing contest, Varice Maverich’s Contest of Story and Drama! There will be prizes, over-cliches, and mostly immense fun. The deadline is July 30th, so there’s still some time. If that sounds like your cup of tea, head straight over there. 


Phew. So that’s that. Today, we’ll be talking about Handwriting v. s. Typing. If you recall my blog post series, Stalking Authors, you’ll recall that there was the handwriting club (headed by C. S. Lewis) and the typing club (presided by J. R. R. Tolkien). 

So we’ll be looking at the two parties’ claims and see which side might be yours truly.

The duel begins.

The Handwriting Club 

First, let’s take a look at what this club offers:

Pros

  • You don’t “delete” any of your thoughts
  • You can carry your WIP around anywhere. Literally. 
  • You don’t need to rely on the internet (esp. In this time where internet connection is overloaded)
  • You will have a better grasp of the length of your work (or not, if you write longhand)
  • You can easily edit and re-read your work

Cons

  • You will have to have a legible handwriting (Seriously, why do my friends in Japan have legible alphabet writing when we don’t even use the alphabet?)
  • You might accidentally lose the only copy of your work via accidents around the home, such as coffee spills, angry Amies, etc. 
  • You will have cramps. Some people have them more than others. 
  • You will expend tremendous amounts of paper and ink. 
  • You will inevitably have to type them out

My Thoughts

This may surprise you, but I used to be in the handwriting club. This is tied into the hilarious fact that the internet didn’t exist for me in the first fourteen years of my life. I still have folders after folders filled with my old works. May they rest in peace.

Recently, I switched back to writing by hand, and so far I’m remembering all the reasons I loved to do this. I can pretty much write around the same speed as I did typing. (My wpm is around 45-50.) So I don’t think it’s necessarily true that handwriting slows you down, it just uses a different outlet. 

If you are a typing club person, it might be fun to switch to handwriting for a little while. 

Touche. What will those dreadful typists come up with?

The Typing Club

Okay, so this is the bigger club of the two, so let’s take a look at what they offer:

Pros 

  • You can keep track of the exact word count
  • You can work on them faster (for some people)
  • You don’t have to retype them (for obvious reasons)
  • You won’t accidentally lose them, esp. if you use writing tools like GoogleDocs which automatically backs up your writing
  • You will have an easier time with exporting/importing materials (such as integrating different drafts sections)

Cons 

  • You will suffer from all sorts of cramps and eye sight problems if you use them for a long time
  • You will have a harder time tangibly knowing the length of your WIP
  • You might also accidentally “delete” or lose your work, without ways of retrieving them (Yes, your sister could still get the revenge…)
  • You will inevitably have to print them out (and expend paper and ink)
  • You will not be able to work where there are no internet, or environments hostile to electronic devices

My Thoughts

I’m still also a member of the typing club (wait, does that make me a hand-typing club?) So, in a way, I get why people would prefer typing instead of handwriting. But also, in the course of me writing on the computer (or the phone), I’ve come to realise that there’s a lot of negative things about typing. For one thing, it kind of isolates me from my family. (You can read about the importance of family from last week’s post.) My eyesight is okay, but I tend to get super tired after long writing sprints. (At this point, it should be called jogs, not sprints.) Hence, I think it might actually work better for me to write out whatever I need by hand first, then type it out. 

And they reconcile. It turns out that handwriting and typing can coexist!

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading. 

What did you think? Are you a handwriting club member or the typing club’s? Have you tried both? Do you know which one works for you better? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

15+1 Lessons to Learn from Stephen King’s On Writing

Hullo, world!

As some of you may have noticed, now that I got college application mostly out of the way (will now be working hard to get there), I’ll be posting on Wednesdays as well. *Plays fanfare and shouts huzzah* I’ll be mostly doing book reviews and compiling book lists. Or not. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Also, check out the guest post I did on Novels and Waffles for the Bibliosmile project, as well as a great shout out to Kat who let me wander about on her blog! Really, she’s amazing. What could be more complete than books and waffles?

Anyhow. Today, I shall divulge to you the wonderful lessons in writing I learnt from Stephen King’s On Writing.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Find on:

1. When you write a story, you’re telling yourself a story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. 

This is the singular lesson I took away which I shall always cherish in my heart.

2. By the time (…) the nail in my wall could no longer support the weight of rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing. 

Despite what everyone thinks, Stephen King had a lot of rejections before he was published. An author is no author unless they have been rejected.

3. A writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. 

I really needed this advice for my current WIP, Woodstone Abbey. Sometimes there’s a character you aren’t sure is working. But later on, they may become one of the most intersting person you’ve ever met.

4. Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is just a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel sh**t from a sitting position. 

*coughs at the language* Every WIP is different for me. My first two major novels didn’t feel like this, although I was always in a weird sort of head space. My current WIP sometimes feels like this, but I know that when I read it back, it won’t be that terrible.

5. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around. 

*Gasps* But it is quite true. Which is why authors should have a second career…

6. Writing is telepathy. You must not come lightly to the blank page. 

This is such an interesting way of thinking about it. And it’s so utterly true. If I say there were a bunch of yellow-hat monkeys jumping on a verdant hill, that’s all you’ll be thinking about for the rest of this post.

7. I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behoves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. 

Everyone should have their own toolbox.

8. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colourful. 

This one is like the advice C. S. Lewis told us back in the Stalking Authors series. If more than two acclaimed authors says the same thing, it must be something to note!

9. You’ll also want grammar on the top of your toolbox, and don’t annoy me with your moans of exasperation or your cries that you don’t understand grammar, you never did understand grammar, you flunked that whole semester in Sophomore English, writing is fun but grammar sucks the big one (…) One either absorbs the grammatical principles of one’s native language in conversation and in reading or one does not. 

Me and grammatical errors.

Hear, hear! I actually quite love grammar, although as a Canadian, I take to British grammar than American ones. (It’s not gray, it’s grey. It’s learnt, not learned.) Although, you should excuse some grammatical mistakes you may find. Alas, nothing is perfect.

10. The writer threw the rope, not The rope was thrown by the writer. Please oh please. 

Classic passive voice. In reality, I struggled with this greatly since you would probably notice the greatest classical books are a landmind of passivev voice! But truly, you shouldn’t write passive voice unless a scientific paper is being written. In which case, proceed to gorge yourself on passive voice.

11. The adverb is not your friend. All I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverb is human, to write he said or she said is divine. 

As someone who grew up with the -ly adverbs, I was greatly shook. (See, I can’t even get rid of greatly.) However much I felt like tearing off a second limb, I began writing without resorting to them, and also getting rid of the he gasped or she breathed. “Said” is never evil.

12. I can’t lie and say there are no bad writers. (…) Good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals  (vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style) and then filling the third level of your toolbox with the right instruments. (…) While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. (…) If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write. 

As much as people want to be optimistic about this, it’s true. Competent writers can learn by GRIT to become a good writer, but you need to put in the work. No pain, no gain. Plus, I do not understand people who do not read. How does one write without reading? It’s like trying to exhale without inhaling.

13. “One word at a time.” 

If you know anything about Stephen King, he writes 2K everyday no matter what. The past Camp NaNoWriMo, I tried to follow his suit and write everyday.

It’s hard.

It’s not even challenging, it’s just plain hard. But once you do get into the habit of writing evereyday, it feels terrible when you don’t.

14. Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending your own personal knowledge of life. 

This is the Stephen King’s version of “Write what you know”. And you’ll be surprised at just how much you do know.

15. In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts: narration, which moves the story from point A to point B and finally to point Z; description, which creates a sensory reality for the reader; and dialogue, which brings characters to life through their speech. 

Okay, so to tell you the truth, I was an avid Planner before this. I still fill notebooks after notebooks full with details about my WIPs. But in truth, if you are a Planner, it gives you a better perspective to become a Pantser. And if you are a Pantser, become a Planner. That way, you’ll see a different world.

16. You can’t let the whole world into your story, but you can let in the ones that matter the most. (…) Call that one person you write for Ideal Reader.

My IR is my brother and my sister. I write mainly for them. And I’m notorious for giving short stories as birthday presents. (I don’t apologise to those who may or may not have suffered from them.) That way, I can concentrate on writing for that person and no one else. It greatly helps with your writing.

And this doesn’t even come close to all the gold mines that are in the book. Everything about this book is so eye-opening if you consider yourself a writer (or an author), you absolutely must read this book. I would even suggest you buy one, so you can re-read it over and over again. 

What did you think? Do you read Stephen King? Or are you simply intrigued by the way he writes, even if you haven’t read his works (like me)? What are some advice that stuck in your mind?  Let me know in the comments below!

4 Stages of My Writing Life (and What that Means for You)

May has arrived!

It’s always exciting to go into a new month, but I especially adore May. (Except, it’s raining today, so it’s not all sunshine…typical of where I live!) The cherry blossom trees are snowing off their flowers, which looks gorgeous. 

A few things to announce before we start today’s topic: 

Ash Ronnel at Starlight Strands (@starlightstrands) has moved to a new WordPress site! Be sure to check out her amazing blog. She’s an inspiring fun person. 

Also, Charis Rae (@ charisrae.com) is co-hosting a writing contest! She blogs about books and writing. I know she’s been assessing what kind of blog would serve people better (she’s already a wonderful blogger), so be sure to check out her blog. Plus, Hope In Disaster Writing Contest is a super cool and fun occasion to flex your writing muscles!

Okay, so today we’re talking about 4 Stages of My Writing Life (and What that Means for You). This is a blog post I was thinking of doing for the longest time and didn’t until now. It’s basically a sort of origin story for me as a writer (into author). 

No, that’s not my origin story…

Ready?  Here we go…

1: Adolescence (6-12 yrs old) 

I started writing before I knew how to write, which is like every writer’s story. Unlike others, however, I didn’t know I wanted to become a published author. I was more into drawing, so I wrote and illustrated my stories. The earliest completed work is called “The Apple Tree”, which sounds like a nice picture book you read to toddlers, but actually is about an earthquake and how it decimates the life of two sisters. (Thinking about it, it’s quite concerning since I was maybe six when I wrote it, and the parents die from the earthquake, orphaning the sisters.)

Me to any character ever.

At this stage, I was in a Japanese English program where I got to write two original stories and have them edited. The winning story was published in the program’s periodical. 

Also, I tried my hand at a contest called Twelve-Year-Olds Literature. Hosted by a famous publisher, this contest published a book out of the winning stories. The level of writing is actually quite shocking, even re-reading them now. Sadly, it closed after the 12th year (being a contest about 12), but the books can still be purchased. I didn’t come close to being in it, but the writing experience was one of the best. 

2: Early Teenagehood (12-14 yrs old) 

This was where I started writing down the stories I told my siblings at night when they missed my parents. I’d started the infamous program known to homeschoolers, the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I loved writing but wasn’t really good at writing in English, and this program helped me cover that gap and build a basic. Their Fix It! Grammar, without a doubt, was what got me a perfect score on the ACT’s English section. (Really, I’m not trying to brag or anything, but it was that foundational to my grammar.)

I started writing in notebooks (some of which still survived) and also started a story club with my friend. It worked okay when she was in Japan, but then she moved, so we mailed each other bundles of paper. And no, the internet didn’t exist for me back then, so every communication was done via letters. 

Except, I lived in the capital city.

My siblings were my sole editors, and although I liked writing, wasn’t really sure where that would take me. 

3: Mid Teen (14-16 yrs old) 

This was where I started realising I wanted to write more “professionally”. I started a blog in Japanese to keep up the language after I moved to Canada. I wrote a lot of short stories during this time, which incidentally helped me learn story structure and themes. I kept submitting my short stories to writing contests without seeing much results since I hardly edited anything I wrote, and my writing level was not there. But I think it helped me stomach rejections which many authors are prone to face. I knew I wanted to be a published author, but with the limited resources I had, I wasn’t sure how to pursue it. 

This was when I met Story Embers and the Young Writer’s Workshop.

Me trying to sort out priorities.

4: Now (16-18 yrs old)

Joining SE and the YWW was the best decision I’ve ever made in my writing career. The earlier SE had guilds where we could hone our writing skills in a small online community forum and also forge bonds between other writers. (Like Jane Maree, who will forever be my first shishou–mentor–in writing.) It was the fine-tuner for my writing skills so that I could edit my own work, find ways to ask others to just look at my work, and find all the tools necessary to write. I also did my first NaNo shortly after I joined. 

The YWW helped me with the business side of writing that I never knew about, such as blogging as a means of a plat form. As someone who lived in Tokyo but lived pretty much like an Amish person, it took me the longest time to figure out how to harness modern technology. Through the YWW, I could fast-forward my knowledge about the publishing industry, what stage I was at, and what I should focus on. 

Now, I’m not so active on either place (I had to quit the YWW due to financial difficulties), yet I have a clearer goal of where I want to be, and what it takes to get there. 

I finally got my work published in a library literary magazine, which began two years ago. I hope to be featured in this volume as well. 

Through this blog I started last year, I could connect with other wonderful young writers out there. In the beginning, I was just a starry-eyed girl dreaming about books. (Books  for breakfast, book for second breakfast, book for elevenses, book for luncheon, book for afternoon tea, book for dinner, book for supper.)

My relationship with books

Throughout the course of twelve years, I floundered, got rejected, and discovered people who were just like me. 

What I really mean to tell you is this: All writing journeys are different. Mine happened to take this specific course until I got down the bare basics down. Yours will be different. 

But as long as you keep writing, those words will pile up. You stand on those words. From there, the view will be something you’ve never imagined. 

And that’s what counts.

What’s your writing journey been like? How did you come to where you are right now? What helped you with your writing? Let me know in the comments below!