When working on a new article or short story I usually work directly onto my laptop to create my first draft. I think this is because I followed my dad’s advice (one of the few times I did during my teens) and learned to touch type, so it feels natural to work this way. However this summer my process has changed.
This change has come about because I’ve been using the train far more than I usually do. For the last four years I’ve had a summer job working for a local college. For the first three years I was full time and stayed on site. However this year I’ve been part-time and rather than driving into work each day I decided to enjoy a more leisurely start to some of my days by taking the train. This has meant I’ve had two forty minute slots where I had essentially free time. So I decided I would invest in my current work in progress and either research (reading the large volume of old books on my kindle) or write. By this I mean not just the creative act but also the physical act of taking a pen and making marks on a piece of paper that resemble letters (I don’t have the tidiest handwriting). For the first couple of journeys I struggled. I had to slow my thoughts down. I can usually type at the same speed that I construct a sentence in my head. However I cannot write at the same speed. So in order to be able to read what I’d written I had to slow my internal voice down. I don’t know if this has improved the quality of my first draft but I think this physical act of setting words to paper gives a certain pleasure I don’t get from tapping on my keyboard. It has made such a difference that the first draft of this blog post was written whilst sitting on the settee with my canine friend gently snoring next to me, something I’ve not done in a very long time.