Sarah spoke about one kind of challenge yesterday. I’m facing an entirely different kind – after many, many years with relatively unchecked access to the internet and my external brains (the – alas, finally deceased – PDA, the tablet, the cell phone, the kindle, the flash drive with all my writing files on it, the Eee…. you get the picture) I’ve got work with a company that is not primarily a programming place (It’s primarily data entry and printing out checks. Lots of checks. Payroll processing.) and is very strict (aka paranoid) about letting anything capable of data transfer into their systems.
That means no cell phones in the building. No tablet. No kindle. No flash drive. No PDA. No CDs. No DVDs. If I want music I need to bring in a separate player (that can’t take USB input or anything other than “play a disc”). Also, no instant messaging (not even internally – which is really weird for me. Everywhere I’ve worked has used IM for communicating among co-workers. Not here), no social ANYTHING on the internet. Hell, I went looking for long names and names that used diacriticals for some testing, and those sites were blocked. I’m having withdrawal symptoms (but I’m enjoying what I’ve seen of the job so far, so not too bad).
Of course, this also means that I can’t write on the computer at work. No flash drive to save it to (no anything else external, either, and cloud stuff is right out). So I’ve taken to carrying a notepad with me, and scribbling – longhand – bits and snippets of the current WIP when I get a bit of loose time during the day. It’s… different. I haven’t written longhand since I got my first computer 15 years go. I type faster than I can write these days, and my typing is a hell of a lot easier to read. My handwriting is… interesting. It needs interpretation more than reading. More than that, though, I can’t write for long. The muscles in my hands are so out of practice that after a quarter of an hour or so, I start to cramp.
Weirdly, this is actually helping. I write a kind of sketchy not-even-first-draft that doesn’t so much get transcribed as it gets used as a framework to hang the real first draft on when I put the day’s scribble into the computer at home. There’s not much wordage going in, but there’s progress and it’s not bad. So that particular challenge seems to have been accepted.
Next challenge – keep at it so I can write for longer before my hands start giving me hell.