Writers are a creative bunch devoted to a craft where there is no single way of doing things. Some like to outline their stories in a fashion leaving no detail unaccounted for, whereas others might simply choose to wing it. We each bring our own experiences, tastes, and perspectives to our stories. The publication process also allows for finding the path that works best for you, whether that's going the traditional route, self-publishing, or a hybrid of the two.
Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck. When this happens, testing out a new method can get you back on track.
This is why I love Twitter's writing corner. Many users share tips and tricks that work for them, ranging from things you may hear in the typical writing class to how the heck did you even think to try that?
One I see floating every now and then has to do with the way we view documents on the computer.
The idea is to change the font of what you're working on from the standard Times New Roman to Comic Sans.
We all know Comic Sans. It's not as formal as other fonts and has a reputation of being used for memes and WordArt throughout elementary school PowerPoint presentations, yet it's one people have a soft spot for.
When I first saw this tip going around, I was a little skeptical.
Changing the font of your document sounds so inconsequential, but it seems to do the trick for a lot of people. Those who have tried it say it's boosted their productivity.
After testing it out for myself, I can see why.
For one thing, the informality of Comic Sans helps ease the pressure other fonts like Times New Roman brings to the table.
One of the reasons I prefer writing drafts by hand wherever possible is the way it allows for imperfections. Scribbling notes in the margins, smudged ink or graphite, wrinkled paper, crossing things out, the faintest traces of words erased—it's all par for the course.
With digital drafts, things have the appearance of being more orderly. Every letter is the same. Formatting and spacing options make it all neat and tidy. It looks polished, even though the text itself may be a chaotic mess.
With just a few clicks, you've got something that looks like a page from a published book.
While seeing your writing in such a way might be inspiring to some, when I'm drafting and editing, it can add a little pressure. That feeling that I have to get everything right the first time kicks in.
Comic Sans on the other hand is looser. It's more relaxed and less tidy.
I think this is one of the reasons writers have come to favor it for drafts and beyond. Weirdly, it feels more okay to mess up when you're using Comic Sans than when you're using Times New Roman or another font with serifs.
But that's not the only reason shifting fonts might prove helpful to writers.
It can also refresh your perspective.
A common piece of writing advice you'll hear is putting your WIP aside when you finish a draft. Stepping away from it might sound counterproductive, but that break often results in fresh eyes upon returning to the project.
When we spend so long looking at something, identifying flaws can become difficult. Mistakes blend into everything and become glossed over. Changing the font of your document can make the words look new, in turn making those blunders stand out.
This is why I'll change the font of the WIP I'm editing if I've not been able to sit down with it for a few days. Seeing it in a new light somehow makes it easier to jump back in than it would be trying to recall where I left off during my last session.
The thing is, though, that while the tip of switching fonts may have originally involved Comic Sans, that's not the one I use.
Instead, I have a handful of fonts I've downloaded that resemble handwriting.
When I do have writing-related stuff to do on a computer, I enjoy using fonts that resemble handwriting—especially if it's a cursive that looks Regency-eqsue.
And, yes, I do have Jane Austen's penmanship among the lot.
It all just adds to the experience of writing Historical Romance and getting my mind in the right space. Sometimes, I'll also use a font that seems to fit what one of my character's penmanship would probably be like and use it when I'm working with letters being sent back and forth.
Taking the principle of the Comic Sans trick and melding it with my own preferences has helped my efficiency while staying true to my personal methods of drafting and genre.
One of these days, I'll get around to turning my own handwriting into a font for that true full-circle moment.
For now, however, my personal variation of the Comic Sans trick proves to be more beneficial than one might expect upon first glance.
Find the font that speaks to you.
Just make sure to switch back to Times New Roman before submitting your writing!