What do you mean I can’t write?

What does a writer do when she cannot write?

I don’t mean cannot write in the sense of writer’s block; I mean physically cannot? Due to recent laptop repairs I found myself without my computer for almost two weeks. (Repairs aren’t entirely fixed… you may notice that the comma key still doesn’t work… more repairs to come…) No problem. I can write with a pen!

So here I am enjoying writing by longhand. Enjoying the creative flow as it passes through my ink. Enjoying the inability to backspace and delete. Enjoying not fussing with corrections every time I make a typo. Just writing… free as a bird.

Ho ho. No such luck. Next I conveniently tear a ligament in my wrist while simultaneously pushing down on a metal stake and twisting it at the same time. (Note to self: not good to exert force through a twisting joint.) It is of course my writing hand.

Hmmm. That’s a bit of a problem. What now? I try writing with my left hand but that is as useful as an umbrella full of holes.

Voice activated software?? Come now. It won’t be that long until your wrist is better. Maybe a week.

A week! Such a long time when I have just started a new novel and my characters are bouncing around in my head and jostling to be heard. But a week it has been. And in that time I have actually found that my characters’ voices have become clearer. Their plot paths more tangled (in a good way). And the literary shape of the book has started to appear.

By forcing me to wait my wrist has given me quite a gift. Because instead of bolting head-on into actually writing the chapters (that would inevitably be deleted and rewritten anyway) I actually have a better sense of where to begin.

So perhaps less writing and more thinking was exactly what I needed?

But enough’s enough. Now that I can almost type again without pain I have some serious exorcising of character voices from my head to do. They’re keeping me up at night.

Pass the laptop.