Christopher Beha Recommends...

“I do most of my writing longhand, in lined notebooks. One unquestionable benefit to this approach is that you can take a notebook anywhere, leaving laptop and phone behind, and when you get there your only options will be to write or to stare at a wall. I usually enjoy writing once I’m underway, but I have a hard time getting started; it helps to leave myself no other choice. One unquestionable cost is that at some point you have to type all this handwriting up. I try to do it every week or two, but since I hate this part of the process, I generally put it off, which means more words to transcribe, which means less inclination to do it, and so on. Over the years, I’ve learned to turn this vicious cycle to my advantage. Whenever I’m disinclined to write, I remind myself that there are pages to be typed. Since this typing does not require any creativity, I can’t refuse on the grounds that I’m not in the right frame of mind. As a bonus, something about this typing—working back through my writing, making tweaks as I go, trying to figure out what word I could possibly have meant that scribble to signify—gets me back in the working mood. And often enough it doesn’t even come to that. Faced with the prospect of spending an hour at the keyboard, I’m apt to conclude that I’m not as blocked as all that. I’ll happily take my notebook somewhere and spend that hour looking at a wall instead.”
—Christopher Beha, author of The Index of Self-Destructive Acts (Tin House Books, 2020)