Tag Archives: typing

An Author with Poor Penmanship

29 May

Recently, I sent out letters and signed swag to some of my super fans who attended an online release day party for my books. And like so many times before that, I found myself dreading writing the letters. Why? It’s simple really.

I am an author with poor penmanship.

Now, please don’t tell me “I’m sure it isn’t horrible, you’re just being humble,” because, seriously, I struggle to read my own handwriting…and it’s never going to get better, no matter how much I practice or try.

My story is a little strange, but here it goes.

When I was eleven, I was at basketball practice before school when I tripped and fell. The growth plate in my left wrist fractured pretty severely, but, for those of you who don’t know, at that age, your growth plate is malleable. And it didn’t show physical signs of injury. (No bruising, blood, etc.) So when I went to the nurse’s office to explain the pain I was having, she wrote me off and said I was trying to avoid a math test I had later that day. (This still blows my mind, because I was a straight-A student, and I’ve always loved math.) Nevertheless, she sent me back to class and never called my father. Fast forward twelve hours later, and I’m in excruciating pain when I get home. At this point, the school told my father, and he is medically trained, so he took me to the hospital. Problem was, the damage was basically done. My left wrist is still damaged today…I’m also naturally left-handed. So, I had to learn to write with my right hand, and it’s atrocious. Yes, I can write with my left, but it hurts, so I basically type everything. Conclusion: My handwriting is UGLY.

But I can’t exactly explain that story to my fans in every letter. I’m always anxious when I write letters to fans, because I’m afraid of what they’ll think. Will they think a four-year-old wrote them a note? Will my poor handwriting ruin the excitement of the letter for them? I see all these beautiful letters authors send to their fans and my handwriting becomes an insecurity of mine.

Then I got to thinking…Why do I have to have an excuse for poor penmanship?

 My handwriting doesn’t change my ability to write a story. Other than struggling to read my own notes sometimes, I’ve never felt at a disadvantage for bad handwriting because that’s silly. But I’m still insecure about it. I see my chicken scratches in books I’m signing for fans and I cringe at my letters to others, and I worry that they’ll judge my handwriting, as if someone with bad handwriting can’t possibly be a writer.

I’m trying to get over this insecurity of mine, but here I am, still frowning when I mail out letters. Maybe one day I’ll be 100% confident in my chicken scratches. Or maybe I will continue to love typing more than handwriting.

You see, I find typing beautiful.

I’m a typist. My mother was also a typist. In fact, she was an associate for a lawyer, who had poor spelling, so she was constantly typing and re-typing his documents. He also smoked a mint pipe, and I remember this fondly. (Why? I will never know.) But when I was sick from school, I would sit in the lawyer’s office, sipping Sprite, and watch my mother type and type and type.

As a kid, I remember watching my mom type like someone would watch a pianist play the piano. Her speed was rhythmic. I found the entire process hypnotizing. And this is before I broke my hand or became a seasoned writer. All I wanted to do was learn how to type. And when I was in college, I would calm down after class by re-typing my notes.

I find it easy to lose myself in the keyboard. I’m at home when I’m using the keyboard. And, for me, the keyboard is my form of expression. The keyboard gives me a voice, and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that—even envy-inducing calligraphy.

It would be nice to write beautifully one day…but I think it would be even better if I found a way to let me insecurity go.

I always have my keyboard.

~SAT

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#WW How to Avoid Writer Burnout

9 Mar

Writer burnout is different from writer’s block. How? While writer’s block is a force that prevents you from going forward, writer’s burnout is when going forward too much and all the time eventually exhausts you (and your resources). I think it’s important to understand the differences, because the solutions to these problems can be quite different. Ultimately though, figuring out what works for you as a writer is what the key to your success will be. That being said, here are some writing tips to avoid writer’s burnout.

1. Pay Attention

If you normally write 1,000 words a day—and then suddenly notice you’ve written 10,000 words in three days—you might be on a slippery slope to burnout. Don’t get me wrong, it’s AWESOME when you do more than expected, but it’s also easy to get caught up in a writer’s high and forget to pay attention to your needs. Like sleep or adequate food. Stay hydrated. Get up and stretch still. Take care of yourself.

2. Take Breaks

This goes back to the above post, but I think it’s important enough to have its own slot, because it goes back to Typing 101. Every fifteen minutes or so, look away from your laptop. Focus elsewhere. Stretch your hands. Blink. (Blinking is a big one for me.) Stand up, stretch. Anything. Just take breaks. I have early on-set carpal tunnel from not taking care of myself as a teen writer. (I’m only 24!) It’s important to do this, no matter your age.

My dramatic reenactment of writer's burnout

My dramatic reenactment of writer’s burnout

3. If You Get Burnout

I think you’ll know if you get burnout, but if you’re like me, you’re likely to pretend it isn’t happening and try to power through it. Do. Not. Be. Like. Me. (I’m getting better at this myself.) If you recognize your burnout signs, take a well-deserved break. And not just a stretch and cucumber sandwich break. Take a long break. Take the afternoon off. Go for a hike in the woods. Climb up on the roof and stare at the clouds. Drive through the city. Blast some music and dance in your living room. Lie down and have the craziest dream-filled nap of all time. Rock it. This is your time to shine…instead of burnout.

These are just three simple steps to keep in mind if you suddenly feel a crashing sensation of exhaustion. Don’t let writing burn you out. Pay attention, take breaks, and recuperate if need be. Writing will be there when you return. I promise.

~SAT

#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 10 starts on Thursday at 7 pm (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT! What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Exactly how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while hanging out with you. Last week, I told everyone the story of the time a REAL-LIFE Eric Welborn e-mailed me, wondering why I used his name in my novel. (Spoiler Alert: I thought I made it up.)

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

24 Jan

#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

I recently found out I have early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome. I wasn’t even sure if that was a rare disorder for a female 23-year-old. Apparently, it is. I honestly don’t know much about it at all, but I am definitely learning. Being told I have to wear wrist splints for 6 weeks was my first lesson. As I’m writing this, I have successfully failed my first attempted night with my sleep shackles. Sort of. One is off so I can write. Across my desk, the other waits with open arms – or fasteners.

I have to confess that up until recently I always thought writing was the exception to the once-you-get-old-you-can’t-do-that-anymore rule. Unlike sports.

When I was 19, I worked in a small Mexican joint called Los Cabos, which I guess means I worked in the Midwest “capes”. I actually find that quite suiting since the air conditioning broke that summer, causing two hostesses to faint from the heat. But there was one coworker I remember quite vividly. He was a year older than me, working as a waiter until he could “figure things out”. I wasn’t sure what he meant until our boss allowed us to wear shorts (due to that pesky AC), and I saw his secret. It was impossible not to. I asked him about his overly intense knee brace.

As it turned out, the guy had a full ride scholarship to play football at one of those fancy universities I won’t bother naming. On the first day of practice – during the very first day he was living his dream – everything changed. He blew his knee out, and the scholarship was revoked. No more school. No more football. No more knee. But he could be a waiter.

I’m not judging waiters. I’m not. I worked in a restaurant for four years, after all. But the idea of dedicating 20+ years to your passion – in this case, football – and losing it from one injury has always (and deeply) disturbed me.

That was why I found extra comfort in my passion for writing. It was injury-free, practically safe. Potential insanity was my only concern. Not physical pain.

shackles

In my naïve head, I truly believed the only way I would lose writing was if something bizarre (and probably horrible and tragic) happened to my hands – a car wreck severed my fingers, a cancer consumed my veins, a disease peeled off my skin, etc. You get the picture.

I’m not sure why I thought this. Correction: I’m not sure why I let myself believe this. My late mother had rheumatoid arthritis, nerve damage, and Reynard’s Disease – all of which affected her daily hand functions – but she always had perfect nails. They always looked nice. Maybe that’s why some of her health problems never truly sank in. She appeared physically able – most of the time – to 11-year-old me anyway. But now – in this moment – I wonder what it would be like if she were still alive. I wonder if she would say anything to me about carpal tunnel. Maybe she could deliver some comfort by explaining how she overcame her daily pain, but I suppose she eventually succumbed to her pain instead of overcoming it, and I believe that’s why I might be entirely too disturbed by something – apparently – so regular. In argument, blowing out your knee is common, too, and so is losing your dream.

I don’t think I have lost my dream, but I feel for those who have.

If writing were a crime, wrist splints would be shackles and carpal tunnel would be the punishment of jail. Six weeks is my current sentence – but at least it’s only a lifestyle change, an adjustment, per se. And even I know my dramatics will subside if they haven’t already. Writing calms me. The pen allows me to breathe free air. And when I’m done writing this out, I will put my wrist splints back on as splints – not shackles – and I’ll take them off in the morning so I can write again. But until then, I feel for that waiter with the blown out knee and that girl who wasn’t tall enough to be a stewardess and that colorblind kid who only wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force.

I hope you found another dream to live,

~SAT on #SATurday

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