Been happily writing all morning. Well, that’s a lie, I only spent an hour writing. The rest of the time went to making the house look like a house, since it gets messy when I only write.
Anyway, over on Kristine’s blog, she’s discussing handwriting, re-learning it, and she posts a link to a fascinating web-site which discusses handwriting and proper postures. As I said over there, I’m happy to note that my handwriting and posture falls into all the good levels. That’s nice. For one thing, I never did any reading, I just worked and adjusted until I’d found a posture which had no pain and which let me get work done. (It took me ages. And it hurt as I went.)
In the comments of that same post, the conversation swung ’round to abbreviating words when writing, and I discussed how I used to slur them. I didn’t explain myself well and thought I would post an example. Unfortunately, since many of those pages were all but unreadable, I no longer have them. But I did find a page of notes from about five years ago, and I took a photo of it and put it online.
You can look at it here. 2002. This was well before I started making a concentrated effort to regain my handwriting, to be able to not only handwrite legibly, but also to get a decent number of words per page, and a decent story.
One problem I always had was, I would handwrite a chunk of story and then type up a bunch of pages, only to find out that I was doing about 100 words per page. It was depressing, to type up six pages and find out you hadn’t even written a thousand words. Add to that, the fact that it took me a lot of time to write those six pages. Add to that the fact that the story sounded stiff and awkward upon reviewing, because I was too self-aware while handwriting. I wasn’t used to this, I didn’t know how to work through it. The actual process of handwriting was a delight, but everything which resulted from it was miserable.
You can see, as you read down the page, the way my handwriting changes within one page. As my hand started to hurt and jerk, some of the letters get sharp and weird, the words start to stretch out, I make mistakes, my handwriting is generally abysmal. This isn’t even the worst of it. It’s just what I could find. I know there are pages around here which are really, really atrocious.
Now, after lots of hard, hard work and time put into it, I can write prose I am happy with by hand. I write fast. I generally write 270-300 words per page, although as I get tired, it dips down to 250 a page (still just fine by me).
This is what my handwriting looks like now. This page is from last week, sometime. The only caveat I’ll offer for it is, I was writing with my knees up and a notebook on my lap, a not always comfortable position when you’re left handed, partially because it forces me to use some of my wrist muscles again. This isn’t my tightest page, but I think you can see the difference.
The prose on that page went straight into the novel, and I didn’t wince at any of it. It works as well as anything I wrote on the computer, and I am happy with it. Moreover, I can set that notebook down on the desk and read from it easily for transcribing. And where the first sample probably took me twenty minutes to write, the second sample probably took me five. Is that seems unlikely, it’s not. The first sample was awkward, and it used my wrist, and it used parts of my brain I didn’t know what to do with. The second sample is years of work later. It starts to hurt, but I can do twelve pages or so in an hour or so, if I’m really focused. If I do twelve pages a day, each like that second sample, then in a month I can do about 99,000 words, give or take a few.
So there. I dont’ know if that helps or clarifies anything in the slightest. I toyed with video-taping myself writing, to see if the motion of my shoulder and arm would be more visible than the motion of my wrist…but it occurs to me that thinking about it will probably screw the whole process up. So I may have to wait on that.