Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whatever Happened To "Writer's Cramp"? Will It Soon Be Replaced By TD

You don't hear about "writer's cramp' much these days. Sure there is plenty of "carpal tunnel" to go around. But writer's cramp almost seems to be a thing of the past.

I remember as a kid hearing the phrase "writer's cramp" all the time. And I recall experiencing such an affliction often enough myself, especially when a lengthy writing assignment was due. With the advent of typewriters and keyboards, one rarely hears of writer's cramp anymore. We've moved from what was typically a short-lived pain in the inter-digital muscles that could be relieved by simply putting the pen down, to structural syndromes that linger long after the writing has stopped.

Fortunately, I don't yet suffer from carpal tunnel issues. However, rather oddly I have noticed a consistent inability to write using pen and paper for more than just a few minutes at a stretch these days---mostly, I think, from being out of practice. After all, how much actual writing do we do anymore?

My planner entries (yes, I still use a planner with real paper inside) are usually one-liners and they are short one-liners at that. Occasionally, I jot down a reminder to myself or maybe even leave a note on the counter so my wife knows where I've gone and what time I'll be home. But for the most part, I don't do much longhand writing anymore and my penmanship has suffered as a result.

I think it's a matter of exercise---or lack thereof. The hand and finger muscles are literally out of writing shape. I used to write journal entries daily and all my letters were written longhand. Even first drafts of lengthy papers and reports started with a hand-written rough draft. Now, short notes are about a much as I actually write.

But maybe "writer's cramp" lives after all and is just waiting to be rediscovered. All it takes is writing a couple pages longhand and there it is as if it had never left....

In a related language artifact, we call ourselves writers when, in fact, we generally don't do much actual writing anymore. And I don't know that there is a good replacement word or phrase---perhaps creative typers or creative keyers (as type-writers are vitually a thing of the past). Then again, maybe "author" is the best word after all because it covers a multitude of tools an author might use....

Just remember, the tool does not an author make. It's the product, however crafted.

P.S. Don't you wonder how soon it will be before we will see the first novel "written" in .txt.... Personally, I plan to avoid too much texting---I hear textual dysfunction is a bugger to get rid of....

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