The Joys of Word Processing

My hunch is that using a word processor makes writing more like sculpting in clay. Because it’s so easy to revise, one begins by hacking out a rough draft which is then iteratively reshaped – cutting bits out here, adding bits there, gradually licking the thing into some kind of shape.

That is what John Naughton thinks in “Has Microsoft Word Affected the Way We Work? and is actually exactly what I’ve long thought — that very same metaphor, in fact, of sculpting because that is what it feels like when I write. I always hated writing longhand (perhaps because of my third grade teacher being disapproving about the slant of my cursive), detested typewriters since I made so many mistakes (and correcting made the pages look like a guy with a bunch of shaving cuts on his face), and took to computers with their non-judgementalness like a duck to water.  Now, on my trusty computer, I start out with an idea, push myself to get words down, and then keep improving, changing, adjusting, fixing, and otherwise revising to make it what I really want it to be.  That lump of clay becomes something.  Amazing.

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “The Joys of Word Processing

  1. “start out with an idea, push myself to get words down, and then keep improving, changing, adjusting, fixing, and otherwise revising to make it what I really want it to be. That lump of clay becomes something. Amazing.”
    Lovely lovely—lends meaning to my favorite quote from E.B. White: “The best writing is re-writing.” And to Annie Lamott’s comforting advice to begin with “shitty first drafts!”

    Like

  2. Sarah

    Me, I just love that comparison to a guy with a bunch of shaving cuts. I remember those days! I don’t miss them!

    Like

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