I’ve posted a teaser on my Instagram a few days ago, but I am currently working on a new project. And not just any project; I have been working on the premise of this story for quite some time now. So when I finally started working on the project, it feels super amazing.
I owe this excitement, mostly, to the fact that I’m writing in an unusual genre: mystery.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to be very experimental with my writings. I’ve written everything from fantasy to romance, and even obscure genres like bildungsroman. Exploring new genres used to feel so fun, and I was addicted to experiencing it.
I don’t know what happened exactly, but I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t been as adventurous as of late. My writings from the past 5 years had always had a similar vein to them: angsty, dramatic, remorseful stories with a bleak atmosphere on them. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, just less exciting.
So when I decided to venture a new genre after what seemed like forever, the idea stood out to me as one of the most exciting things I could do with my writing career for now. I’ve always been fascinated with mystery as a genre, and I have my own share of devouring Agatha Christie’s and Doyle’s books in the past, but I had never attempted to write one myself.
Perhaps I thought “mystery” was a genre not to be tampered with until I was old enough to craft clever plot twists. After all, adventurous as I could be, I was only a student when I vigorously looked forward to writing my manuscripts longhand in school. I had all the excitement in the world, sure, but not the finesse; not the necessary planning skills I definitely need in order to write a good mystery novel.
So when I decided to finally write this story, I want to reignite the excitement I once had when writing. For one, the genre itself is a relatively new thing for me to attempt, so that got me quite pumped. But there is also this fear that I could wear out the excitement during the project—thus ending the project altogether.
I needed something else to keep me going; to remind me of how much fun I had writing in the past.
And after some thorough thinking on my part, here is what I came up with: I will be writing this story completely longhand.
No, I’m not crazy. And I’m not even kidding—I still have my laptop up and running, if you’re wondering, evident by the fact that you’re reading this post. And I know that typing the stories out would save me a lot of trouble transcribing, but my mind is already set to writing everything longhand for this project.
And this decision is not without its reasons, too. For once, I grew up writing stories on a composition notebook in school. My handwriting ranged from neat and tiny to downright illegible. But despite its shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed writing my novels by hand.
One thing I really liked about it was, I suppose, the fact that I could sneak some writings in school. You know, right when the teacher is going on and about in front of the class, explaining whatever it was that they were meant to explain, I could always open my notebook and, in the guise of taking some notes, write the next chapter of my novel discreetly.
Another thing I really liked about handwriting is the tactile feedback I get whenever I’m doing it. You know, feeling how my pen glides over the paper and seeing the ink gushes out from the tip, before eventually drying and creating permanent streaks over the canvas.
There is actually a study that says writing by hand makes us commit information better to our memories when compared to typing things out on a computer. Now I don’t know whether this is true or not—I’ve never done extensive research on my part, either. But I do agree that handwriting stuff has its quaint charm that is borderline irresistible for me.
(As if it hadn’t been any more obvious.)
Writing by hand forces me to slow down. My mind runs faster than my hands could keep up, quite obviously. And most of the time, when my hand is writing this one sentence, my mind has already crafted right up to the next paragraph. For some people, this might seem quite restrictive, but for me personally, this actually feels liberating.
By intentionally slowing down my drafting speed, I find that I become more intentional with every wrote I pen. Because my mind is running ever so fast, and my hands are moving considerably slower, I take more time to craft each sentence, and it creates this zen-like moment for me—if that makes any sense.
Besides, while typing is definitely faster, it kinda feels more like work.
This is coming from someone who drafts emails and business proposals on a regular basis, so do take my words on it. Handwriting, on the other hand, feels like “play”, as the amazing Neil Gaiman himself had put it eloquently.
And I genuinely believe that better stories are penned by writers who are having fun during their writing process.
Of course, I don’t know if I’m going to finish this project at all. While exploring a new genre and writing longhand certainly upped the excitement level for this project, it all boils down to discipline and determination when it comes to finishing the manuscript.
But especially with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays coming right up, I believe that having a notebook I can write on certainly works better than bringing along my significantly heavier laptop everywhere with me. So here’s to a (hopefully) finished manuscript early next year.
In any case, since I’m doing this, I’m going to share my writing setup with you guys, at least for this project. Bear in mind that this is not my standard writing essentials, but for the better or worse, these are what I will be using for the next few months, or at least until I finished this mystery manuscript.
My Writing setup (for this project)
- Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black – Extra Fine nib.
This is my drafting pen. I really like the pen because it is a retractable fountain pen—makes it more practical when I need to reach for the pen quickly. It doesn’t have a ton of ink capacity, which I consider to be its only major down point. But it writes so smooth with the 18K gold nib, so I’m not complaining.
- Platinum Preppy Extra Fine nib.
This is one of the cheapest fountain pens around in the market right now, and I use it to highlight my manuscripts with different colored ink. You know, to mark new chapters, underline some stuff, etc.
- Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi
Pilot Iroshizuku makes one of the best fountain pen inks around, and I’ve been a fan of their deep, saturated black ink, Take-sumi, which means “bamboo charcoal”. The ink is not waterproof, but it is one of the better flowing black inks out there. I also love how it shades from deep black to dark grey when you’re writing with it. Super pleasing to the eye.
- Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin
Chiku-rin, which means “bamboo forest”, is a bright shade of green. When the ink pools, it becomes borderline rich emerald in color, but for the most part, it is just a slightly washed out, bright green ink. This is nice because it contrasts the black ink I use for drafting really well; perfect for highlighting stuff.
- Muji Notebook A6
Just your standard Muji notebook in A6 size. The paper quality is not the best on the market, sadly, but I can work with it because I use Extra Fine nibbed fountain pens. My writings feather ever so slightly here, but at least everything was legible without them being a huge mess. Plus, the size fits my tiny handwriting, and it is affordable to boot.
Last but not least, happy Christmas, everyone!
I will be posting new content every Saturdays, be it writerly stuff, or just things that I like to write about. This includes my own stories, information about my books, and things that interest me. Keep yourself updated by following me on Twitter and Instagram.