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Choose Your Weapons

October 5th, 2015

Method-of-writing-pie-chartA funny thing’s been happening here at the Writers Bureau. As many of you know, students on our courses send in assignments either as typed manuscripts by post, or as RTF files attached to emails. Over the past few months though a number of people have asked to submit hand-written pieces instead.

Now, the main aim of all WB work is to GET YOU PUBLISHED, so we positively discourage the submission of hand-written script. No publisher, agent or writing competition would accept it, which means it’s vital to learn the presentation techniques our industry sees as ‘standard.’ Nonetheless, it’s been intriguing to get not just one, but several requests for hand-written work.

Recently it seems the whole world has gone ‘digital.’ Laptops, tablets, smart phones, watches, cars, clothes, fridges … we’re all drowning in gadgets. So surely it makes sense to write on a keyboard? Your piece is immediately ready for an editor to see, and you can post it on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, your own website, wherever you like. Why would anyone want to write with a pen and paper?

Well, from what people are telling us, a significant number of you are just getting a bit tired of it all. Especially those who work all day long on screens and computers. For a lot of people, it seems that when they actually get time to do something they love, something that matters, they’d rather wind the clock back to simpler times and write longhand. And personally, I understand this, because that’s how I work. My first drafts are always an illegible scrawl. But I thought I was an odd-ball. Everyone else round here types their stuff straight into Word.

We were all so curious about this desire to work the ‘old school’ way that Megan, who some of you know from Student Services, decided to send out a questionnaire. When the results came in she was amazed to find that 44% of our students prefer to write the ‘old school’ way, which none of us expected. It makes me wonder whether something could be happening in the wider writing community similar to the anti-digital backlash current amongst musicians.

Off in another life I’m a singer-songwriter, and I’ve been playing music for years. Back in the late 90’s, here in the UK, we were all sure that ‘bands’ were a thing of the past. Computers were everywhere and DJs all powerful. But now there are more people playing acoustic guitars than I’ve ever seen, good-looking young hipsters are learning the banjo, ukulele, kora, djembe, tabla, all sorts of things. Meanwhile the folk still making music on Cubase and Logic are beginning to look a bit … old-fashioned.

Not that computers are on the way out. For the foreseeable future you’ll still need your manuscript in digital format for any kind of submission. How you work up to that is entirely up to you though. If you can touch type and it feels natural, go straight for Word. But if, like me, your ideas are better expressed with a Papermate, a Parker, or even a chewed old Bic biro, then do it that way. After all, there’s only one rule …

Keep on writing!



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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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