THE FRANK EXPERIMENT: Writing Old-School For Twenty-Nine Days Straight

GOOD MORNING, CYBERSPACE!

Today is the day, folks! It is March! It is SPRING (at least, it’s sorta kinda beginning to feel like spring? who knows when spring will actually start. I think the weather is currently bipolar)! Which means that February is officially over, and–as promised–thus concludes The Frank Experiment.

If you saw my initial Frank Experiment post, you already know what I’ve been doing for the past 29 days. BUT. If you’re confused, I highly suggest you take a quick little gander at this post, where I explain the whole ordeal in a nice, neat little package, complete with a smol storytime.

However, if you’re busy and just want to get on with things, here’s the tl;dr–I decided to ditch my laptop and write with naught but a typewriter (or, if the typewriter was unavailable at the moment, a notebook) for the entire month of February.

Sounds cool, right? Sounds pretty simple . . . right?

Well. Today we’re going to be talking about how that actually went. . .

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THE FRANK EXPERIMENT: Writing Old-School For Twenty-Nine Days

PART ONE: JOURNAL ENTRIES

FEBRUARY 2, 2020 . . . day two

Though it’s the second day of February, I’m debating considering this the first day of The Frank Experiment, as the first day one–February 1st–went wildly unaccording to plan. I worked later than I had anticipated, got home later than I had anticipated, and by the time I was actually able to sit down and write, a) I was too tired to create anything even mildly good, and b) it was too late to use Frank without waking up every single one of the neighbors and their third aunts. So. Here we are today.

And already I am greatly regretting this experiment.

I’ve written already today–it’s almost 1 o’clock, and I’m nearly five pages into my next chapter–but I haven’t yet managed to pull Frank out and get clacking. What words I have put to the page has been via my falling-apart-notebook and my fountain pen filled with blue ink. It’s been a pleasant experience thus far–very calming, which is not normally how I feel while drafting–but not how I anticipated the first day of this experiment would go.

I figured I’d be clacking away at Frank tirelessly–thus the name The Frank Experiment. But something has been pulling me back–something has been telling me to write by hand today–and though I’m not sure where that little voice is coming from, I can’t help but listen to it.

And I did say that The Frank Experiment would also be writing by hand, didn’t I? I’m sure I did. Maybe I should have called this the “old-school writing experiment instead. That doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it, though. . .

FEBRUARY 10, 2020 . . . day ten

. . .so I think I have a confession to make. It’s been ten days since The Frank Experiment’s beginning, and I have not managed to write on Frank even once.

I mean, obviously I’ve been writing. But instead of using Frank, I’ve been writing strictly by hand in a beat-up notebook who’s spine has basically disintegrated into nothing more than ribbon and some dried up glue. This is clearly not the aesthetic I had anticipated for The Frank Experiment, but I can’t bring myself to say that I don’t like it. I’m actually really enjoying this weird plunge into writing by hand! In fact, I’m almost enjoying it more than I do writing on my laptop, which is a very strange thing for me to say, indeed.

But, as this is The Frank Experiment–and, unfortunately, not the Write-By-Hand For 29 Days Experiment–I will be busting Frank out later today to prove to myself that I can, in fact, follow through with a plan that I have created.

Probably.

Hopefully.

I guess we’ll see how it goes.

FEBRUARY 16, 2020 . . . day sixteen

So I wrote on Frank! Huzzah! I mean, yes, I’ve literally used him once for this entire experiment, but I mean??? At least I did it!

Honestly, I have no clue what’s stopping me from using him more. It could be because most of my work shifts are morning/day as of late, which means by the time I get home and eat and detoxify myself from the day, I don’t want to wake up the neighbors with my incessant typing. (according to my dad, you can hear Frank’s clacking from the sidewalk.) OR it could be that, despite my best efforts to stick to schedule, I’m just seriously enjoying writing by hand. There’s a calmness about putting pen to paper that I never really noticed before. It’s relaxing. It’s portable. And I feel like, no matter where I am, if I just have my notebook and my pen, I can sink right into my world and my character’s heads with very little trouble at all.

It’s not exactly the same with Frank. I thought that, because I physically cannot backspace, I’d be producing MORE words and having LESS stress about perfectionism. But instead, it’s been increasing my fear of writing the wrong thing. Because once you write something, it’s there. There’s no erasing it. There’s no going back and fixing it and changing it to the BETTER idea your brain decided to have just as your fingers came down on the keys. There’s no scratching it out ferociously and continuing on as if it never happened. And I LIKE that about writing by hand! If you mess up, you can just scribble it out and continue onwards, no harm done. But with a typewriter, you can’t do that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that . . . what I thought I would absolutely adore about drafting with a typewriter is actually what I’m least enjoying about it.

I don’t know how J.R.R. Tolkien did this.

FEBRUARY 23, 2020 . . . day twenty-three

Well, folks, this is it. I’m going to call it quits.

As I type this, it’s an absolutely beautiful Sunday afternoon; the sun is shining. The weather is perfect. There’s a warmth in the air that teases at the first signs of spring. And even though it’s six days early, I’m ready to conclude The Frank Experiment. I’ve been writing old-school for twenty-three days. I love the number twenty-three.

We’re going to end this experiment on a high note.

sherlock bbc GIF

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PART TWO: THE CONCLUSION

I think the most interesting thing about this experiment was how close-minded I was at the start of it. In true Kenzie fashion, I’d figured out exactly how this whole thing would play out before February had even started. I had it all mapped out in my head–wake up early in the morning, write for at least an hour on Frank, rinse well and repeat. Of course there were going to be days where I couldn’t write on the typewriter. There were going to be nights when I would have to use a notebook instead. But by golly, I was going to use the typewriter more than anything else, and it was going to be fantastic.

Clearly this is not what happened.

But I think–and this is very strange for me to say–I’m kind of glad that the experiment took a wild turn for the worst? I’m glad that I tried this, and I’m glad that–in the most basic essence of the experiment–I failed. Because in essentially “failing” this experiment, I learned so much more about my writing process and myself than I could have ever hoped to understand had everything gone according to plan. And I think that’s the beauty of an experiment, you know? You expect it to go one way–you plan and hope and aspire–and then, once you actually start, everything changes.

Stories are kinda like that, too.

So no, I didn’t write on a typewriter for 29 days straight. In fact, I used Frank a total of two times. Maybe three. But despite all that, here’s what I did learn:

  • THERE’S A CERTAIN MAGIC IN WRITING BY HAND

Remember when you first started writing? When the world was bigger and brighter and all you needed was a pen and a notebook, and you could escape reality for hours? Ask a writer where they began, and the majority of us will say, “in a notebook”–or some other less-obscure variant on that particular theme. The majority of us–not all, but most–first began our writerly days hunched over crumpled pages with a pen in our hand, scribbling out the stories burning within our hearts.

But somewhere along the line, we exchanged that sacred paper with the sharp screens of a computer. We replaced our colorful pens with stiff keyboards. And suddenly, seemingly without realizing it, we’d replaced the simplicity and magic of creation with the rigidity of content production.

Image Gallery GIF

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love my laptop!! In fact, it’s what I’m writing on as we speak. I wrote everlost almost solely on a laptop, as well as all my other recent story concepts. A laptop is where I feel most at home while writing–which might explain why the Frank Experiment failed so horribly–but in a world which forces us to move at the speed of light, pushing us and pushing us until we’ve reached our limits, and then pushing us even more, there’s something almost peaceful about writing by hand. There’s a magic to it, a weightless feeling that comes from disconnecting yourself from every distraction and every little voice telling you that you should be doing more, creating more, posting more. There’s less worry about wordcount, less fear of not writing the “right” thing.

It’s almost exactly what I thought I would get out of writing on a typewriter, but . . . better.

Of course, I’m still writing on my laptop. In fact, after I finish up this blog post, I’m going to pop over onto my Scrivener document and hopefully pound out a couple hundred words before I have to leave for work. But I know now that whenever I’m stuck on a scene–or, more likely, craving that special blend of magic that comes from writing by hand–I’ll put away my screen and pull out my trusty notebook, instead. Sometimes you need to disconnect from the pressure of everything, and when you find yourself there (you’ll know it when you feel it), I urge you to find a notebook and a pen and revisit those days of hasty scribbles and the magic of creation.

  • STORY > WORDCOUNT

Truth time: I love NaNoWriMo. If it weren’t for NaNo, I would STILL be plunking away at the first draft of everlost. This I know with absolute certainty. Because of NaNo, I’m currently working on my third book (which I hope to finish in April), everlost’s fourth draft is with beta readers, and I’m well on my way to begin plotting my fourth novel come summer, which I will–with any luck–begin drafting this November. NaNoWriMo helped me push past the block that told me I could never finish a project. It helped me type THE END on four drafts of everlost. It was an instrumental part of shaping me into the writer that I am today.

But I also think there’s a toxic mindset which stems from doing NaNoWriMo, and that’s that story–especially in the first drafting phase–is not as important as wordcount. Obviously this might just be a me-thing, and none of you have this issue. But chances are at least someone out there has experienced this thought while participating in the NaNo.

Multiple times I’ve found myself pounding away at the keys, writing myself into a tremendous plot hole that will make absolutely NO SENSE later on, simply to pad my wordcount.

OR I’ve let my characters ramble incessantly for days on end, just because I need to write something, and I’m too brain-dead to figure out where the story is supposed to go from here.

Sound familiar? When used correctly, NaNoWriMo is a beautiful tool for authors. It teaches us that a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect–it just has to be written. And that is a wonderful thing! But when used incorrectly–when we become so consumed with wordcount that we cease to care about the story which once set our hearts on fire–that’s when it might be time to pull back and reevaluate our priorities. Goodness knows there have been multiple moments when I’ve had to take a break and reconsider why I’m doing what I’m doing. Why I’m writing what I’m writing.

Which brings us back to the Frank Experiment. This past month, without a digital screen to tell me how many words I was chugging out every ten minutes, I was able to really sink my teeth into the storyworld I was creating. I was able to reevaluate my characters and who I wanted them to become. I was able to connect with my story in a way that I never have before.

Did I write as much as I would have had I been writing on my laptop? HA. Definitely not! But I truly connected and fell deeply in love with my story and its world and characters, and that–to me–means more than all the random gibberish I might have written otherwse.

  • A PLAN IS MORE FLEXIBLE THAN YOU’D THINK

I should have known this from all the times my life did NOT go as I had initially planned, but I digress. Last month it finally sunk in: plans are more like “guidelines”. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t, and we’re all just basically winging this thing called Life without even a hint as to where we’re going.

I have no clue what I’m doing anymore. I think it’s high-time I actually admitted that. But I DO know that with every word I write, I’m getting closer to being the author that I want to be, and that, my dearest peasants, is quite enough for me.

pirates of the caribbean ship GIF
^ me trying to stay afloat in the dastardly sea called Life like. . .

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IN THE END. . .

I learned a lot from the Frank Experiment–most of it mentioned here, some of it just tucked away inside my heart for future experimental endeavors–but I think the most important lesson learned was that there is literally no controlling what you will learn from an experiment. You think you’ll know what’s going to happen, and suddenly life completely blind-sides you and shows you an entirely new perspective that you never once would have dreamed of.

And that’s the beautiful thing about an experiment, isn’t it? Of an adventure? You never know quite where you’ll end up.

So I didn’t use Frank as much as I told myself I would. I wrote 54 pages by hand instead–not to mention the few pages that I DID end up typing up on Frank.

And you know what? I could not be happier–nor prouder–with the results of this most epic of failures.



TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!

So! This was probably not what you were expecting for the ending results of The Frank Experiment. But I can assure you, folks: I would not change last month for all the world. I am so in love with my story right now. My characters are talking to me. My world is growing and blossoming with myriads of color . . . the writing life is good right now, peasants.

But enough about me! Let’s talk about YOUR February!:

  • Did you undertake any writerly experiments last month? (or have you ever done any in the past?)
  • Have you ever taken a step away from the computer to work old-school on your project? How did that affect your writing/motivation/style?
  • Have you ever planned out an experiment, only for it to go completely sideways? Did the sideways-ish-ness make that experiment better or worse?

and most importantly. . .

ARE YOU PARTICIPATING IN CAMP NANOWRIMO NEXT MONTH?

Camp NaNo is approaching, peasants! Might as well start preparing now, right? XD

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! And until next time. . .

_flings cookies in the air and disappears_

12 thoughts on “THE FRANK EXPERIMENT: Writing Old-School For Twenty-Nine Days Straight

  1. (AH! The comment section is back. I was going to comment earlier but it was gone for some reason! D: WordPress keeps doing that. I think there’s some weird glitch going on and it’s driving me crazy. ANYWAYS.)

    AAAAAAAAHHHH, KENZIE! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU AND HAPPY THIS WENT WELL. I loooved all your thoughts on how experiments so often never go as planned, but that can be a GOOD thing. I definitely always have in my head exactly how things will go and ahahahahah. They never go like that. XD But life is about learning and growing, and it’s best to just embrace that. I JUST LOVED ALL OF THIS.

    I think that is FABULOUS you rediscovered a love for hand writing your stories. I definitely wrote allllll my first stories in notebooks. I’ve got notebooks full of old (horrifying) works, and have such fond memories of those days of carrying my notebook around and writing anywhere and everywhere. Sadly, it’s been literally OVER A DECADE since I last hand wrote any fiction. Yeah. o.o In my defense, I do get really, really bad hand cramps for unknown reason. So I can’t do it for long anymore. BUT STILL. There is something magical about being creative AWAY from a screen. AWK. You’re inspiring me to hand write something now! Maybe I can hand write some flash fiction. Ooooh, now there is a thought!

    And I totally agree on your thoughts about NaNo! I mean, CLEARLY I am NaNo obsessed. It has helped me so much. BUT. I definitely think more about the wordcount ever since I started doing NaNo. Where, before, wordcount never even occurred to me all that much. I’m constantly having to remember to just TELL THE STORY and forget the wordcount. I’ve gotten a bit better, but it’s definitely still a fight.

    Just…EVERYTHING YOU SAID. I want to hug this post! AND YOU. This was so beautiful, Kenzie, and I sooooo admire your tenacity to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. I think that’s so important in the creative life. We NEED to try different methods to see what works and what doesn’t. Just YES. THIS WAS AMAZING!!!! Congrats on your awesome results of your experiment! :D

    OH. And I maaay be doing Camp NaNo! Not to draft anything, but to use it to keep me motivated on editing The Nether Isle. I haven’t decided on a specific goal yet, but yeah! I will probably be joining and I’m EXCITED! :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • (UGGGH! The comment section is being so annoying right now!!! I didn’t even know it was missing until Jethan sent me a message. And then I had to go into the settings and try to bring it back. I don’t even know why it got disabled, but hopefully it doesn’t happen again??? Thank you SO much for coming back to comment!!!! Your comments never cease to make my day!! <33)

      "Life is about learning and growing" << YES!!!! All of the yes!!! This is kind of my "goal" for this year–to learn to just go where life takes me and forget trying to fight it. God's plans are always better than mine, anyway, so why not trust the Master of the Universe to guide my life in the right direction??? (and oh goodness. My experiments NEVER turn out quite right. But I think there's a kind of beauty in that. . . )

      OH!!! OH OH OH!!!!! I would LOVE to have more flash fiction from you, so anything that gets you to write more flash fiction sounds like a win in my book!!! XD And writing by hand is SO magical… I just can't get enough of it at this point. Although the hand cramps are REAL and I 1000% understand what you mean… Have you ever tried writing with a fountain pen? I've found that it's a little easier on my fingers/wrist, so I don't get as bad of hand cramps when I use them for extended periods of time… (I've also noticed that writing in cursive helps reduce the cramping? It's WEIRD. XD)

      RIGHT?? I adore NaNo (and I forever will, I bet), but sometimes I wish I could go back to the days where wordcount didn't feel like everything. However, BECAUSE I think about word count more than I used to, it helps me actually FINISH my stories, rather than let them ramble on endlessly? So I guess it's a mixture of good and bad, as with everything. XD

      MEEP. Oh my goodness!!! Thank you!!! AND I WOULD TOTALLY ACCEPT A HUG FROM YOU. *tackle hugs* Honestly, trying new things is something I'm actually halfway decent at (hello ENFP/type 7 self! XD) but it's STICKING with the new things that can be a little tricksy….XD I'm getting better, though! I'm trying to hold myself more accountable to the new things I try, but also give myself grace if they don't work out quite right. It's that whole growing and learning thing all over again, I guess. I really am so happy with how this all turned out, though! I learned a lot about myself and my writing, and I can't wait to see where we go next!

      WHAT!!!! ASDFGHJKL!!!! OH MY GOODNESS, I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! My Nether Isle children!!!! They are getting EDITED!!!!! MEEP, THIS IS BEYOND EXCITING!!! We must keep in touch throughout the month!! It's gonna be EPIC!

      Like

  2. This is so cool!! I love what you have to say about writing by hand–I do kind of miss the days of pounding out pages by hand in the dead of night, even though it gives me sore wrists which is why I don’t do it anymore (and also I can’t edit chapters as I go, which terrifies me ;-) ). I’m so glad this went so well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MEEP! Thank you so much, Becky!! <333 Oh goodness, I totally understand the sore-wrist-non-editing thing. It IS terrifying at first, but the more I did it, the more enveloped in the story I became, and editing as I went didn't seem quite as important as just telling the story. It was a strange feeling, actually. XD MEEP! Thank you!!! I honestly could not be more pleased with the result of this experiment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like your experiment went BEAUTIFULLY, if not exactly as you had foreseen (I now have a creepy voice in my head saying “exactly as I have foreseen” – what is this from???) And I’m SO SO glad you’re loving your story!!! That’s the best feeling in the world.
    Story>wordcount is truth. I love writing by hand because it really does free you from your wordcount. And I’m the kind of person who gets so easily distracted by stuff like that. My analytical brain goes, “hey! I can keep track of that!” and fastens onto it, whereas you can’t strictly keep track of the creative process itself. But the creative process is the important part.
    I am probably not doing Camp? But I wish you ALL THE LUCK!!!!

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    • Oh, DEFINITELY not as I had foreseen, but beautiful all the same!! I am so happy with how it turned out! (and one google search and MANY memes later, I believe it is a quote from Emperor Palpatine. XD)

      Oh my goodness, yes! Wordcount can be SO distracting. And I understand that it’s a good thing to keep an eye on if you’re trying to finish a project by a specific time, or if you’re working towards a large goal and want to make substantial progress, but sometimes I think it’s good to just take a step back and focus on the creativity for a little while. It definitely helped me get back to my love of writing last month…

      Aw, darn… :(( But THANK YOU!!! I shall miss you in the camps, but hopefully I will still be pretty present here on the blogosphere! *she says hopefully, completely oblivious to the despairs about to befall her*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well first off, I’ve never had a typewriter before and that is SO cool that you have Frank (also love the name and You’ve Got Mail reference!). There really is something so enticing about a typewriter and it’s imagery.

    I really love trying little experiments now and again. I loved that you tried to go old-school with your writing for a month! I think what I love best about this post is what you discovered at the end. Experiments rarely go as I anticipate so I often avoid them lol but I love how you embraced that very aspect and instead chose to enjoy what you learned on the journey. That’s such a GOOD message!

    I remember all my original writing was in a notebook with either pen or pencil as a pre-teen. I barely used quotation marks in those days lol but those stories were what started me in my love for writing. I love that you resdiscovered that old magic of handwriting even though your laptop definitely won’t ever be replaced. 54 pages handwritten is a big accomplishment! *high fives*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Typewriters are amazing, but goodness are they difficult to draft on… XD And MEEP! Thank you!!! My mom and I are obsessed with You’ve Got Mail. It was her idea to name him Frank, and I honestly could not think of a more suitable name. XD

      Oh my goodness, thank you!! Usually I get really unmotivated and upset when my experiments don’t go according to plan, but something I’m trying to embrace this year is just simply accepting the fact that life is big and messy and doesn’t happen the way we often think they will. Last month was a prime example of said big and messy life, so I’m SO happy that I was able to push through. (even though part of me was wanting to just give up XD). It definitely wasn’t the experiment I had thought I’d be doing, but it was an experiment all the same, and I’m so happy with the results!

      Oh my goodness!!! I think there was a period of time where I didn’t use quotation marks, either!! I was all like, “why bother if this is faster? WHO NEEDS PUNCTUATION????”, but yeah.. Eventually we must learn that punctuation is more of a necessity than a decoration. XD
      MEEP!!! Thank you SO much, Faith!!!! *high-fives*

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  5. My first attempts at NaNo were longhand (made wordcounts a lot harder??). I got 15k one year though!! …and it was all! describing the travel! so the MC could get to the school where the story could properly sTART

    If you got closer to the heart of your story by writing longhand (with the occasional typewriter!), then that’s more important than soaring wordcounts, Kenzie!

    (to those thinking I may just be biased by my inability to actually reach 50k in one month?? …whaaat are you talking about, of course that’s not it…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • DUDE. Mad respect to you for trying NaNo longhand!! Like I’m tol scared to even CONTEMPLATE trying that……….which clearly means I need to do this next November, oh no. (Also, oh my word, that sounds like SO. MANY. of my early drafts. And then I would just sit there twirling my pencil and wonder why on earth my books were so long???? And boring???? What even???????)

      MEEP!! That’s what I’m trying to tell myself, anyway!!! I’m really excited for the progress I’ve made, so I guess that’s a good thing, no???

      (OF COURSE THAT’S NOT IT. I WILL BACK YOU ON THIS. *whips our pitchfork*

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my word, I love this experiment! It’s always fascinating to see how something turns out. You have it one way in your head, and then THE ABSOLUTE COMPLETE OPPOSITE thing happens instead. XD
    I’m really happy you and your story!! I should definitely try writing by hand more often…it’d do me good, I imagine.
    Hope your year has been fabulous so far! <3

    Like

    • Meep!! Thank you!!! <33 It was extremely enlightening for me, tbh… XD Oh my goodness YES. And I think the key to experiments is ALLOWING yourself to split off from your initial idea. So many times I feel like I'm failing if I'm not doing what I had PLANNED to do, but like??? That's life. Sometimes life changes. Sometimes things happen that are even better than we could have ever planned out initially, so why constrict ourselves to one specific thing, right?

      Ooh, yes!!! Definitely write by hand!! I haven't written STORY by hand in a while, but I've begun journaling, which is something I would have never expected I would actually start keeping up with. But it's that whole cathartic writing by hand thing. It's so calming to me. XD

      It HAS been fabulous! You know…despite the whole quarantine/virus/black plague thing. XD But other than that it's been amazing! XD How have YOU been, though, my wonderful friend?? I HAVE MISSED YOU. *tackle hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

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