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  1. #1
    Chris Chamberlain

    Computer-based Writing: a Common Problem?

    Computer-based Writing: a Common Problem?

    This morning I caught myself listening to a Radio Four programme that just ever so slightly alarmed me.

    A budding lady writer’s novel had bogged down for good because, she said, she enjoyed reading what she had written too much to get on with the thing. She has yet to be published.

    Now I haven’t got to the point where I do nothing but read my own literary genius back to myself but – BUT – I did develop the habit of just tweaking, dicking about with and
    having better ideas for what I had written instead of getting ON with it. Though be warned that this can lead to you just reading your own material back to yourself.

    So far I have tried to discipline myself in two ways.

    One: simply DON’T TURN THE *&%!ING COMPUTER ON in the first place unless you have a very positive idea of what you are going to write and, even if some better ways to put what you’ve already written did pop into you head last night, still wait until you have fresh material. Preferably pages’ worth.

    Two: go back to pen and paper. In my case I never quite left it as I have a dodgy memory. I’ve usually kept an A4 writing pad by my bed in case inspiration strikes me. So now I include a pencil with a rubber at the other end so I can ‘work up’ such good ideas ( usually a whole scene, a way to juxtapose one scene with the next, or a crucial bit of dialogue I’ve been stuck on) almost to finished standard BEFORE I switch on the computer. Also, sometimes, what seemed a stroke of eat-your-heart-out-Dickens genius at two o’clock last night looks bleedin’ ridiculous after work the folling day, so you’ll be glad to see how you went wrong there before an agent or publisher does…

    I don't suggest you write it all in longhand first before transferring it to a computer file, but very idea of grindng a nib across woodpulp just to sketch out scenes, try out ideas etc. will pull into focus the fact that fresh material is what you ought to be generating.

    But I’m afraid that that still doesn’t guarantee that I get on with it. Leaving me wondering what tips and tricks other budding writers may like to pass on, and whether this is a common problem in the age of computer-based writing? If memory serves the UK journalist and novellist Julie Burchill once wrote that she deliberately uses a primitive, out-of-date word processor so as to stick to getting her books finished, as with an all-singing, all-dancing up-to-date computer there are too many bells and whistles to temp you into dicking about. Though I wonder whether she meant no more than the temptation to go on line ‘just’ to check a fact or spelling, only to jolt yourself back to what you’re supposed to be doing when you realise you’ve been online for three quarters of an hour.

    So are there any more lesson of experience, out there?

    __________________________________________________ _________

    The moral right of the author to make 'Pride and Prejudice' look like a classic has been asserted.

  2. #2
    Ce Ce

    Re: Computer-based Writing: a Common Problem?

    A budding lady writer’s novel had bogged down for good because, she said, she enjoyed reading what she had written too much to get on with the thing.

    If she had a mortgage dependent on writing income, this would probably not be an issue.

    Mortgages and other deadlines make for dandy motivation.

  3. #3
    Ce Ce

    Re: Computer-based Writing: a Common Problem?

    And did you have to call her a budding "lady writer"?

  4. #4
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Computer-based Writing: a Common Problem?

    You tell us not to turn our computers on unless we're going to write, but there's an unspoken assumption there: you're assuming that our computers aren't always on. In the case of my desktop, that's certainly false. As of right now, it's not been rebooted in about 11 days. (I'm away from home right now and can't check.) It was only rebooted then because that's the only way to get a kernel update running. Before that was 8 days, since the cleaning lady popped a breaker. This is one of the many reasons I use Linux: it's vastly more stable than any possible form of Windows.

  5. #5
    Linden Holidae

    Getting on with it.....

    well, you wrote a long piece on your question, maybe you can not waste time that way.... here's what i did to help push myself along...i got on craigs list and started a writers group.* I am at the head of it, and each week, someone will submit something to hand out for the group to critique and give back the next week.... this helps me because.....there are currently 5 people in the group, every five weeks, i HAVE to have something to turn in, this is long enough to get a good chapter done, almost to the best of my ability.* I love the way we do this, there isn't any pressure to turn something in each week, but there is a 'deadline' for my next bit...maybe you can start up a group, ours is really casual, we meet in the back of Barnes and Noble, where it's free and we have access to lots of books on couple hours every sunday

  6. #6
    D.C. Eastman

    Re: Getting on with it.....

    I thought it was funny.


  7. #7
    Ray Veen

    Re: Getting on with it.....

    Yeah, I don't have a problem with this. I start on page 1, end at 'the end', and then edit.

    To me, that's just what a guy has to do to write a book.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Getting on with it.....

    I only go back to check things if I forget a name or plot point later on in the thing.

  9. #9
    A.L. Sirois

    Re: Getting on with it.....

    Everybody's different. If you want to waste time, you will -- a computer is not necessary.

  10. #10
    stevenlabri ô¿ô

    Re: Getting on with it.....

    "she enjoyed reading what she had written too much to get on with the thing. She has yet to be published."

    My guess is until she gets over her genius, she will never see her work published.

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