Flogged By A Rooster Cockle-doodle-doo!
By Ken Robinson
I was recently flogged by a rooster. It couldn’t be avoided – I had to catch him to put him in the other hen house. He showed me what he thought about that when he drew blood. Okay, I’ll admit it was a bantam rooster, maybe a third of the size of a regular rooster. Which is why I stuck my hand out there, not thinking I'd be bleeding after the ordeal.
The rooster really doesn't have anything to do with writing, but I may be able to use it in a story sometime. The point is, if you look at the world around you with curiosity, almost everything has to do with writing.
Now, about writing tools: The tools you use become part of your life as you use and become comfortable with them. I myself find it very hard to change my writing habits once they are established, so I suggest you try different things before settling down with a particular routine.
My process begins by handwriting the first draft using a pad of paper and a pen. I know it's old fashioned, but I can write with them anywhere, anytime; trains, planes, automobiles, the woods, the classroom (doing so right now), even casinos. Casinos, you ask? That had to do with keeping the ex company while she played the one-armed bandits, even though I didn't. I had to find some way to keep busy for the 12 hours we were there. In places such as the casino, where they don't allow electronic devices, I could take my notepad and write while I kept her company. One note about this process: Make sure you find a comfortable pen to write with, as your hand becomes very tired with awkward ones.
My main problem with laptops is that I don't like the small keypads. Also, when the battery is gone so is your writing ability. And whereas I have trouble typing and thinking creatively at the same time, I've found that my writing speed is just about as fast as my creative thinking speed. I suppose it could just be that I need to practice typing, as others do much quicker.
Most people think it would be a waste of time to write something on paper and then transfer it to the computer. But this process gives me the opportunity to immediately do a major rewrite. The transfer process allows me to rethink the content as I'm typing it in, adding to the story and characters where necessary. I find that once I have a story or article in the computer, it is harder to make changes, as if it's a desecration to change it once it's typed.
But there are different sorts of electronic devices besides laptops, such as PDAs and straight word processors, which you can type on, save, and later transfer your stories to another computer. These take up less space, the batteries last longer, and they are usable in more places than a laptop. I suppose one could use a BlackBerry as well, but I definitely can't on that keyboard.
Another thing I did for a while was to use a cassette recorder to capture my thoughts. This was mainly for when I was alone driving somewhere on a long trip, but I never got into a good habit with it. Nowadays I don't travel like I used to, but it could be a good idea for people who, like me, feel that driving is a waste of time. It’s a good way to kill two birds with one trip.
After I getting my thoughts into the computer, I used to make a print-out for my next rewrite because I was more comfortable editing on paper. That was when I had a printer and it didn't cost me anything to print. But economy and times have changed, and lately I've had to do it on the computer itself. I guess I've been forced to be more environmentally–friendly, and I'm getting used to it. However, I'm still not as comfortable doing it that way.
I've always carried my writing life around in a backpack. I always have that with me, either on my person or in the car, so when the opportunity arises I can grab it and start writing. Recently, Grandma got me a small briefcase with many pockets for notepads, so I'm going to see how that works. It looks more professional, but may not be as functional to carry around.
Quick writing update: I sent a very, very rough draft of the Drive-In screenplay to the executive producer. I got the feeling he didn't like it when he said, "Well, it's added some characters, but we seem to have gotten off track a bit." But since he didn't really give me an outline to go by, I just went for it. This is my first collaboration, and I'm finding it a bit frustrating. It's very challenging to read minds and even more difficult when they think they've told you everything you need to know but haven't. Still, it's something new and I've got to adjust.
We also had our first production team meeting for the project. We met in the middle of an old drive-in that had been abandoned for 40 years. The brush was so thick we needed a machete. Oh well, at least I didn't get any ticks. Boy, I hope one of these projects pays off some day.
Till then, I'll Write On!
Ken Robinson, IN's Write On! columnist, winner of Bare Bones Int'l Film Festival Best Screenplay Award, has written over 10 screenplays, 3 episodes of TV series West Law, is executive producer for the feature Sacred Bloods, board member of the Oklahoma Film Society, founding member of Oklahoma Movie Makers. His email address is:Krobinson104@hotmail.com