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Old 02-19-2010, 09:37 PM   #1
plumboz
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Anybody else use a pen?

Might be a strange question here on the MR MB, but I was wondering if any of my fellow writers still use a pen at any point during the writing process. I find that what works best for me is fountain pen and composition book with nice paper for the first draft and then after that it's all word processor. But when I try to do first draft on the computer I just end up constantly refining each blasted sentence as I go and it takes longer than forever to get a chapter done.

So, are there any pen, Sharpie or Ticonderoga #2 devotees out there?
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:18 PM   #2
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I go through much the same process. I hand write my work with a Montblanc fountain pen and then eventually, after many notations, commit it to electronic media.

There is something about the hand writing process that can't be replaced by a keyboard, at least for me.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:17 PM   #3
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When I started writing fiction -- sometime in the Cretacacious -- I thought I had to use a typewriter (remember those?) if I wanted to be a real writer, but it didn't work out. I then wrote everything by hand, using ballpoints that I snitched from my employers (or motel giveaways). They didn't do any better.

When computers and word processors appeared I started short things on them, but the 'big stuff' needed to be written by hand for the Che to flow back up from the paper to my brain (or whatever). Today I can barely write a legible grocery list by hand. I'd be lost trying to write without a word processor (but not any old word processor). I started with Wordstar (remember that?) and graduated to Word Perfect, which I still use although it was degraded by Microsoft when they bought into the company. I have Open Office, but would never dare to create on it -- and don't even think of Word -- that was created for lawyer's offices.

The moral. Start writing with whatever is comfortable and don't be surprised if the medium takes over from there.

Christopher Hoare

The Iskander series – Arrival, Deadly Enterprise, The Wildcat’s Victory, The Wildcat's Burden
see links to all at –
http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/...topher%20Hoare
http://www.freewebs.com/chriskander/
http://thewildcatsvictory.wordpress.com
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:53 PM   #4
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I rarely do any lengthy writing by hand because my hand quickly tires due to the way I write (I tend to write with a heavy hand). Usually, I do all of my lengthy writing on my word processor.

When I do write by hand, such as writing a first draft or notes when travelling, I prefer to use a mechanical pencil (with 0.5mm lead) so I can make corrections. When it comes time to write in ink, I prefer a Uni-Ball Vision Micro pen (0.5mm line) which gives me a good solid dark line or make a copy my pencil-written original to make it permanent.

I have used a fountain pen to write from time to time and I like the way they write, but I find they're not practical for day to day use. Also, I write in printed letters (writing each letter separately) rather than cursive and a rollerball pen works better than a fountain pen for my writing.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:29 AM   #5
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I do that alot of times, especially when I'm out. A pen, pencil, and I find that a new comp book will movitate me to write when I'm feeling lazy about finishing a story. Put those headphones on and I just keep writing. Before I know it, I've written 3 or 4 pages!
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:12 AM   #6
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I do both. It depends on the situation. I don't have a fixed place to write. I have a small house, no study or office or even a desk or a desktop computer. I write anywhere and everywhere.

I type some chapter drafts in a word processor and I write some out longhand. When I use a pen, it's usually some nice thick gel-ink ballpoint. Whatever is at hand, I'm not picky. And when I type it, it's never word for word, not even close. The text gets extensively revised from page to word processor.

When I have a draft done I'll print it out single-spaced, two pages per sheet and carry it around in a binder for the first, structural edits. I'll cover the pages with notes in ink and translate it to the word processor. When that's gone through several iterations, I'll print out a single page per sheet, double-spaced to do finer editing, again slathering the pages with ink. Editing tends to flow better when ink is involved. I'll sometimes slog through screens alone on a laptop to revise a chapter, but it truly is a slog.
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plumboz View Post
Might be a strange question here on the MR MB, but I was wondering if any of my fellow writers still use a pen at any point during the writing process. I find that what works best for me is fountain pen and composition book with nice paper for the first draft and then after that it's all word processor. But when I try to do first draft on the computer I just end up constantly refining each blasted sentence as I go and it takes longer than forever to get a chapter done.

So, are there any pen, Sharpie or Ticonderoga #2 devotees out there?
Yep. I generally start with notes and ideas etc. in my writing journal -- just a cheap spiral notebook. If the idea is promising I'll begin collecting/writing on loose-leaf sheets and keep in a folder. At some point I'll type it in. Each step gives opportunity to edit/improve/etc.

No special writing instruments or paper....it's the words that are important, not what they are written with/on.
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriskander View Post
.... (but not any old word processor). I started with Wordstar (remember that?) and graduated to Word Perfect, which I still use although it was degraded by Microsoft when they bought into the company. I have Open Office, but would never dare to create on it -- and don't even think of Word -- that was created for lawyer's offices.
....
Oh my yes! I started with Wordstar before Windows, before MSDOS, on CP/M!

used Wordstar for most of my writing some 15 -20 years ago and in fact have files, I've not found any way to convert to ........take a deep breath......WORD!

I too somewhat despise MS Word but just use the basic features and I prefer using Open Office because it pokes a stick in the dominance of MSWord and the latest version is completely free and compatible with Word files!

Last edited by kennyc; 02-20-2010 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:26 AM   #9
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I used to love Wordstar. I managed to convert my old files to Word with a copy of WordStar for Windows 2.0. I don't think any of the DOS versions had such conversion capability.

Have you tried:

http://www.wordstar.org/wordstar/pages/convert_faq.htm

One can also fool Word into acting like Wordstar with a keyboard emulator (available from this site).
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASparrow View Post
I used to love Wordstar. I managed to convert my old files to Word with a copy of WordStar for Windows 2.0. I don't think any of the DOS versions had such conversion capability.

Have you tried:

http://www.wordstar.org/wordstar/pages/convert_faq.htm

One can also fool Word into acting like Wordstar with a keyboard emulator (available from this site).

Yeah, been round that block and wasted several hours and only ended up with someone wanting to sell me some conversion program for a couple-a-hundred dollars...

And yep, that's exactly my problem, but I did find this:

http://www.hotkey.net.au/~hambar/hab...l.htm#juwsconv

which seems to convert to text files okay. I wish I could convert and keep the formatting/style/etc.



Actually ASparrow, I went back and tried this again. Downloaded the Word95 converter and installed it in my Word 2007 and it appears to give somewhat good results if you ignore the errors when opening a WordStar file and then specify that it is US Ascii text.
It seems to retain at least some (paragraphs/line breaks) of the formatting.

Thanks for tweaking me on that page/method again.

Last edited by kennyc; 02-20-2010 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:43 AM   #11
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Yeah, been round that block and wasted several hours and only ended up with someone wanting to sell me some conversion program for a couple-a-hundred dollars...

And yep, that's exactly my problem, but I did find this:

http://www.hotkey.net.au/~hambar/hab...l.htm#juwsconv

which seems to convert to text files okay. I wish I could convert and keep the formatting/style/etc.



Actually ASparrow, I went back and tried this again. Downloaded the Word95 converter and installed it in my Word 2007 and it appears to give somewhat good results if you ignore the errors when opening a WordStar file and then specify that it is US Ascii text.
It seems to retain at least some (paragraphs/line breaks) of the formatting.

Thanks for tweaking me on that page/method again.

Great to hear! I managed to rescue a bunch of old short stories from WordStar. They're not worth reading, but they're like old friends and a nice record of where I've been in my writing journey.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:07 AM   #12
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I still do a lot of outlining and almost all of my first drafts by hand.

It is definitely "slower" but I find the words just tend to flow a lot more freely and, to me at least, the quality of the writing tends to be better.

I think there is something liberating about the simplicity of the process. I slip into "just write it mode" instead of trying to edit and write at the same time.

I tend to lots of quick little edits while typing into the PC.

And then I do almost all of my editing in pen--I print out the manuscript, mark up my changes (sometimes very specific corrections, sometimes a note to self that "this section is crap, fix it" or "elaborate here") and then go enter the corrections in the word processing file.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:39 AM   #13
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Great to hear! I managed to rescue a bunch of old short stories from WordStar. They're not worth reading, but they're like old friends and a nice record of where I've been in my writing journey.
Exactly the same here....most of it (with a few rare exceptions) is probably not worth reading or revising, but I feel like they have been lost or locked away for a long time. I will now go through and convert them to both text and Word and file them back away.
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Old 02-20-2010, 02:26 PM   #14
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Oh my yes! I started with Wordstar before Windows, before MSDOS, on CP/M!

used Wordstar for most of my writing some 15 -20 years ago and in fact have files, I've not found any way to convert to ........take a deep breath......WORD!

I too somewhat despise MS Word but just use the basic features and I prefer using Open Office because it pokes a stick in the dominance of MSWord and the latest version is completely free and compatible with Word files!
I'm an old Wordstar fan (it was my first MS-DOS word processor), and Wordstar 4.0 is my favorite version. It fixed all of the weaknesses of Wordstar 3.3 and didn't try to be Wordperfect like version 5.0 did. One of my favorite features was on-the-fly mail merge (tell it to print a document, it asks you questions that you answer, merges your answers into the document in the preset places, and prints the document).

I am also a fan of WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS (WP5.1) and for me it is the best word processor I've ever used. When I was using MS Word 2003 there were still features of WP5.1 that were not available in that version of MS Word (such as the ability to precisely position the text anywhere on the page, a handy feature for filling in preprinted forms).

As far as converting old Wordstar files, I'm using StarOffice 8.0 (the commercial version of OpenOffice.org) and it has the ability to open Wordstar files going back to version 3.3. Also, it might be possible to extract the text from the files since they are basically just plain text files with codes inserted (much like HTML and their tags).
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Old 02-20-2010, 02:40 PM   #15
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Apologies to the OP for the off topic, but I was able to install the conversion add-on to Word and am now able to pretty much open the Wordstar files and save them as docx and txt files .... and in so doing it has put me in a very weird place seeing some of my writing from 20 years ago and knowing all the changes that were in store for me.. I started a new thread here:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74518

Anyone else experience this? Please feel free to share in this thread.
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