Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Smarten Up, Write in Longhand

Writing By Hand Can Make You Smarter.

Not true?

Turns out there’s a lot of info out there to support true.

So it turns out I’m not old fashioned and crotchety because I still prefer to write some things by hand. But wait, don’t some groups advocate not even teaching cursive writing? 

Big mistake.  Just check out  a study by Pam Mueller, a Princeton psychologygraduate student when this article was written back in July 2015. According to the study folks who took notes in class longhand retained more and comprehend more than their fellow students pecking away at computer keyboards and actually taking more notes because they could take them faster.

So, what does that mean for writers? Put away your computer and grab a pen and notebook when in the planning stages of your next project. Whether article with research or novel (also with research – just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean you don’t have to have the facts straight) or screen script (ditto). 

It appears that typing might be just fine once the writer is rolling, creating whatever it is they’re creating, but apparently writing notes longhand is a much better method to trigger memory and the synthesizing of collected information than typing or pecking at a phone screen.

Don’t believe it?  Then you might want to give it a try. I have over the years. Having written novels, published with major houses and optioned screen scripts in addition to articles and ghosting, I’ve tried almost every method of producing my work. I’ve tried every idea to try to shortcut the process, but there are some things that just don’t take kindly to short-cutting and memory and processing information are apparently two of those.  I mean, not only did those student in the study type notes much faster than they could write them, but it didn’t gain them anything. In fact, they lost ground against their longhand note-taking companions. Not only that, but they had less comprehension of what notes they did take. Not only that, but when they tried going back and studying the copious notes they’d taken on laptops, they actually did worse on the tests.

Hmmmm. Ever find yourself taking lots of notes from an  interview on your computer as a professional writer, feeling like you raced to keep up? Then, did you go back over your notes and nearly wonder who took them in the first place since you can’t remember what was said?

It seems like if you take the notes by hand, you’re more involved, more inside the subject matter.

My notes are a mess, my handwriting would probably get a ‘D’, but when I compare them to what I tried to take once up on a time on my computer when I read those notes they trigger memories and associations. I find myself more fully engaged and when the time comes to get it all down into a document, the flow is swift and smooth.

The long and the short of it is, keep writing. Keep writing by hand to focus the writer in you. Keep a notebook handy. (come on, you know you love those Moleskines anyway – and they come in cool colors and black too!).

There’s no doubt it works. Something about our brains… whatever… my creative partner Charlene Brash Sorensen and I create our outlines, plot ideas, scripts, even comic blocks for Planet Of The Eggs by hand on note paper before we even begin working with our comic creating software. Charlie prefers graph paper – I prefer lined.

Save the tech stuff or later. Start writing by hand.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How We Develop Our Writing Ideas

So, to develop an idea it’s become rather easy for us (I know, I know, don’t throw things at the screen if you’re in a stuck place). We’ve developed the mythology behind our heroic Eggs of Eggland and continue to add to that in discussions and individually (after which we review and determine what to keep and what to tweak). With that as our background we discuss and figure out what the current book is about in the broadest sense.

 We sat down to brainstorm for the second part of the Eruption adventure, Saving Dot, yesterday (release is set for June). We were kind of stuck, unable to come up with the overall thrust of the story so we decided to work out the first scene.  We chatted. Sometimes the world intruded and the conversation got off track talking about the upcoming election, etc. but once those thoughts were cleared, we focused on the problem at hand. What to do about our heroic Egg Sala and of course the one we were saving, our person, Dot. 
We knew how we wanted the first scene to go since it’s the second part of a two-part adventure so we began writing the scene, coming up with add-ons we sparked one from the other. That led to the second scene which we were able to block out quickly. We don’t have the rest of the story yet and it’s possible the first scene could be thrown out later, but as a starting point, it got us moving. It’s downright exciting to leap-frog one idea from another. To toss the not so good aside and, through discussion, give and take, notes scribbled and crossed out, come up with twists and turns that are fresh and at times pop in like bursting bubbles of enthusiasm. The rest of the story will come now, or it will twist back in a whole, different direction. The first two scenes are ‘stewing’ between us and when we get together on Thursday there’s no doubt we’ll each have new and expanding ideas on where this next story is going. We have the start. We have some elements. Knitting it together with forthright discussion can be bumpy, but it’s guaranteed.

What I’ve written above may not be too clear to other writers, but that, in essence is how we develop writing ideas. Hopefully it will spark something in other writers writing in teams or on their own.

Oh, and we have, in addition, established a routine. With communications so easy via Email and the net, we work together twice a week and do a lot of detail work separately, creating the illustrations for characters, researching backgrounds, uncovering new ways to get our books out there to the public eye. Getting it out there is a whole ‘nuther subject for another day. But, in the meantime if you’ve read this far and like the Planet Of The Eggs concept, check out our Facebook Page and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter --- oh, and tell your friends too! We love it when you share.

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