The Tolkien Trick

Every November, the folks at NaNoWriMo make a big deal about locking your “inner editor” away in a closet so that you write unhindered all month.  The urge to edit sentence-by-sentence hits everyone, and it’s hard to keep him away.  Recently, however, I discovered a trick that will keep you from your editor as you write first drafts of scenes.

It’s easy to edit yourself when you’re writing fast, because it took no time to get the words out– how much longer would it be to erase it all and rewrite the sentence with a stronger verb?  Part of this technique has to do with writing more slowly.

Similarly, it’s easy to edit on a computer or electronic device.  Write, read, highlight, delete, rewrite, repeat.  At the end of the day, you’ve got nothing except dissatisfaction.  Part of this technique has to do with writing something difficult to destroy and remake.

Lastly, who hasn’t wanted to write like Bilbo Baggins?

Those letters are magnificent.

Those letters are magnificent.

Everyone who reads the Lord of the Rings wants to learn to write in Elvish, yes?  Well, this is about as close as we can get.  Anyone can make scribbles on a piece of paper and call it Elvish, but if no one can read it, it’s useless.  Write legibly, but differently– write in hobbit script.

You don’t have to copy these exact letters.  In fact, I didn’t, except for the E’s and the A’s.  I copied my T’s, F’s, lowercase G’s, and a few other letters from the map at the beginning of The Hobbit.  Just find the coolest version of the letter and use it.  The rest of the letters were from my own head, but they fit the style of the other letters.  If you really need inspiration, look in the appendices of the Return of the King.  There are charts of runes, elvish letters, and other languages there.  Make them look English, and you’re set.  (If you need more help with making O’s look different– because circles are far from unique– just don’t complete them.  Leave a smidgen of space in the top of the O, but not enough to make it look like a U.  That’s what I did.  I like O’s written that way.)

So my advice is this: if you desperately need to write a scene without your editor butting in, take a piece of paper and a good pencil or pen and write what comes naturally, but in a different handwriting.  Make it look so beautiful, it hurts to erase misspelled words.

When you’re finished, take the paper, type it into the computer, and attack it with a rusty knife.

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  1. Robyn Hoode

     /  February 6, 2013

    Ah! This is an excellent idea!

  2. Amanda Fischer

     /  February 6, 2013

    Nice! I, too, find that writing by hand helps me out both when that irritating internal editor shows up AND when I’ve got a mild case of writers’ block. The first because it’s slower, so I’m coming up with ideas too fast to edit, and the second because it’s slower, so I don’t have to come up with ideas quite as fast. If that makes sense. 😛

  3. This is actually a really good idea! *underhanded comment* xD

  4. I don’t normally handwrite my stories, I usually plot down ideas and such by hand, though. It’s rather funny, though. My father was just talking about an article he read about how a professor found his writing going downhill because he was writing so fast on his computer. He then tried writing by hand, and found that it improved, because he took his time.

  5. Charley R

     /  February 7, 2013

    What a fantastic idea! I think I may give this a go . . . provided my inner lazybones doesn’t win out 😛

  6. That actually sounds like a lot of fun.

  7. I do that with my handwriting anyway :p
    But I had a sudden change yesterday.. all a sudden my handwriting is a mix of my father’s and my biological mother’s O.o

    • That’s quite interesting. You’re sure it’s all of a sudden, or was it a gradual change that you just noticed?

      • Pardon me, not yesterday. A couple days ago. and no, I looked at my other handwriting.. it had been progressively getting worse but it was not at all like it suddenly changed to.
        It has happened to me before. It may or may not change back.

      • That’s quite interesting. My handwriting has never changed so abruptly, except when I’ve forced it to do so.

      • I was able to change it forcibly once. But it didn’t last. I’m much too lazy and I write too much to change it to something nice.

      • It’s a conscious effort, so it takes a little doing, but it’s really fun when you get to it.

      • Have you learned calligraphy or anything of the sort?

      • Nope, never. Well… once I tried to do a few letters, but it was for a history class that flew by quickly.

      • Do you write in cursive? In fifth grade they told us we absolutely had to write in it and teachers would never accept anything but cursive, but now no one writes in cursive at all…

      • Never liked cursive because I learned it letter-by-letter. Whenever I wrote one letter, I would stop– that made it halting and jerky. I suppose everyone learned letter-by-letter, but I never knew how to let it flow. I print, and connect a lot of the letters anyway.

      • I’m the same way. Its quite ugly.

      • I like printing better, anyway. Cursive itself is ugly for me– printing is bolder and stronger and more stylish on occasion. For instance, how would one possibly write in all capitals in cursive? Not that I do often anyway.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 11, 2013

        I write in a half cursive. My i’s, l’s, t’s are curved at the bottom, my o’s, n’s, a’s, r’s, u’s and occasionally i’s can all look the same, and I don’t really pick up my pen as I wrote a word, so all the letters are connected. Oh! And my sevens look old-fashioned– the kind with the line through the middle.

      • As do I, when I write fast. But I don’t cross my sevens– my sister does, though.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 11, 2013

        It’s bad when you go back later and can’t read what you wrote, isn’t it?

      • I can usually translate it. It’s bad when other people can’t read it.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  February 11, 2013

        No one can read my hand writing… or at least they claim they can’t.

      • Indeed. Sometimes it almost feels like a secret code.

  8. Handwriting is an extension of yourself, and by changing it, you’re almost having a paradigm shift. Any ideas for cool fonts to write in?

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