Monday, December 5, 2011

Like Holding a Pen

I am always in awe of writers who write out their first drafts by hand.

I can definitely see the practicality in this.  I mean, wherever you are, you can just whip out a pen and a notebook and get back to your story.  –wheras I would have to lug around my laptop and look for a power source when it starts beeping that the battery is low.  Not to mention in the area I work, I’d be much more likely to get trampled by a thug going after my computer than beat up for a notebook and pen.

However, there are three reasons I don’t write out my drafts by hand:

 One- While I can type about as fast as I can think and keep at it for hours on end, I definitely lack the same stamina while writing long hand.  I’m out of practice.  If I have more than one check or envelope to write out while doing bills- I seriously get a cramp.  It’s pathetic.  And by the third envelope, my penmanship is nearly illegible. I am a handwriting wimp.

Two- Due to reason number one, it takes me a lot longer to write out my thoughts by hand which leaves me far too much time to either: lose my train of thought, hate my sentences before I’ve finished writing it out, or pretty much doubt the entire endeavor.  While tapping away on my computer, my hands are too busy spewing out my story to give me time for self-doubt or reflection. 

Three- My purse suffers from vanishing pen syndrome.  No matter how many times I put a pen in my purse, it’s never there when I need it.

What about you guys?  Do you feel comfortable doing your writing by hand?  Do you write some of it by hand and some of it on a computer?  Or are you like me and hand-writing impaired.

54 comments:

Wendy L. Callahan said...

I basically write with whatever is available. The entire first draft isn't done by hand, but huge chunks of it are in warm weather - when I'm at the playground with my son. ;)

Meika said...

Writing by hand is fantastic for me when I'm blocked. Something about it frees my muse and gets me out of the rut. I also do revisions by hand for the same reason. Pen and paper are more physical than using a computer so I feel more connected to what I'm writing. That said, I've got two books I wrote by hand that never made their way to the computer.

Lisa Shafer said...

I used to write everything by hand in the first draft, but it was depressing to realize it all just had to be typed again anyway, so I stopped.

Laura Pauling said...

I don't draft by hand. If it worked, I would, but it doesn't seem to make a difference for me. I plot by hand.

And my husband is constantly complaining how we lose pens and I'm pretty sure it's my fault!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Writing by hand is just so much work - for all the reasons you said, and then you have to type it up when you're done. Editing is a pain in the arse if it's on paper and if your writing is like mine, it's such a mess you can't even read what you wrote. Bah. I'll stick to the laptop!

Sarah said...

I would never hand-write a draft ever ever ever. First, I simply can't. My handwriting has always been atrocious, and my hand cramps after just a few sentences. Second, I can't write as quickly as my brain spews words, so this would never work for me. I have a restless mind to begin with, and to constrain it like that ... no. I type really fast, so that works much better!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wrote my first book by hand and the second one on the computer because I was participating in NaNo. I am a very slow typist but only a slightly faster writer. I can do either.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm the same way. I write better on the computer than by hand. Plus why would I want to waste time typing the ms into the computer when I could be spending that time editing? I mean, it's not like I can take the hand written ms and feed it into the DVD player, right?

salarsenッ said...

I give great respect to those who hand write their manuscripts. I could never do that. My brain works way to fast for my hand to keep up with. On occasion, though, I have written a scene by hand. I might be in my car or at one of my kids sporting events. That's as far as I'll go with writing longhand. :)

Mac said...

A pen? What's that.

As a 30-year IT guy...my keyboard is part of my body. I'm a cyborg. Except for the weekly trip outside to clean up the yard, I don't go anywhere but my office anyway.

Ach. The chain on my ankle is chafing.

Jen Daiker said...

I love my laptop! My hands are weak, with carpal tunnel and tendinitis I do much better on the laptop then writing by hands. I can type faster and prevent the pain for awhile. It's not 100% safe but it works. When plotting it's notebooks all the way baby!

Happy Monday!

http://ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com/2011/12/match-5-hermioneseed-4-vs-claireseed-29.html

Old Kitty said...

I raise my hands to being no. 3 - totally writing impaired with added atrocious writing so bad my manager at work has banned my penmanship for lack of anyone being able to read it! LOL!

I thank the writerly gods and goddesses everyday for the person or persons who invented the keyboard!

Take care
x

Nicole L Rivera said...

Half and half. I get frequent migraines so it helps not to be staring at a bright screen for too long of periods of times, plus sometimes I just enjoy writing out word for word by hand. This way I can "see" what I'm writing. I don't really know what I mean by that, but that is how I feel. I don't feel like I can "see" my story on the screen as well as right in front of me in my own chicken-scrach. (I have horrible penmanship, which I can only decipher).

I had vanishing pen syndrome, but now I have a pen case and if I manage to remember to put my pens in it, then they don't disappear...again, if I actually remember which rarely happens. Thank goodness my hubby worked in office supplies and we've got ten lifetimes worth of pens in storage :)

Great post!

Lo Hughes said...

For some reason, writing by pen/pencil gets my creative juices flowing a lot more than typing! I don't know why...maybe because it's a bit more active?! I've developed a process where when I sit down to write, I sketch out a scene in point form by hand. Then, I take that and turn it into something coherent on the computer!

kimmullican.com said...

Oh lord - I used to sneak in writing at work by long hand. Hours of sitting and waiting for customers during winter hours left me time to write, so long as I didn't get caught. No wonder I quit that job.

Anyway, I hate writing long hand. A former legal secretary, I can type a lot of words a minute. By the time I write something out long hand, I've lost my train of thought. Top that with the ability to cut and paste to move things around easily - hands down digital is my preference.

Everything eventually has to be typed and I've always been a fan of working smarter, not harder. Because I'm lazy like that.

DL Hammons said...

I do my outline by hand...but that's the extent of it. Why do double the work? :)

Lorelei said...

I used to write it all out by hand because when I began writing, there were only typewriters--oops I dated myself, didn't I?

I mostly write notes when I'm elsewhere (at work), and it is so much easier to just begin typing and what with the spellcheck and ability to go in and correct it on the page--what a wonderful world we live in...

Talli Roland said...

I'm like you: in awe of those people who can write longhand. My writing is atrocious! There's no way that would ever happen!

Jessica Bell said...

The only thing I write by hand is poetry. Anything longer than that and I get cramps. :)

Em-Musing said...

Unfortunately my hand has gotten lazy when and if I do use it to write because I can hardly read what I wrote. This weekend I came across some old "by hand" writings and all was legible. See? I have gotten lazy.

Susan R. Mills said...

I definitely do both. There's something about writing by hand that brings out more creativity for me.

Kittie Howard said...

I type so fast, I'm distracted when I write by hand because I'm thinking how much faster it would go at the keyboard. Hmmm, not always good.

AmieSalmon said...

Fab post.
I do write a first draft by hand (or mostly) then I type it up for another draft, then print it off to work on another draft, then type in the edits (usually editing again). I find it so efficient, but tbh I write on any materials I can - my phone, my notebook, leaflets from work, ticket stubs.

JEM said...

I am the SAME WAY! I can type so fast that writing longhand just isn't practical for me as a writer. And I'm convinced that's why I gave up on every story I ever tried to write as a kid. I would scribble for 50 or 60 pages in a notebook and then just lose interest. I was amazed when I actually finished a manuscript for the first time, and I'm convinced it's because I was on a computer.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I can type almost three times faster than I can write by longhand so I'm definitely a typer.

BUT sometimes when I'm stuck on a story, I sit with a pen and paper and it's amazing how that works for me and I can get past whatever was stopping me.

Kelly Dexter said...

I always write my first drafts by hand. I like the ease of carrying a notebook wherever I go, and I'm able to think better in front of a page than a screen. Also, I like to do the first round of edits as I transcribe what I've written.

Allison Merritt said...

I get the handwriting cramp too! I hate writing by hand, but sometimes I do it while I'm tied to the circulation desk in my library. I use the excuse that I have tendinitis and it leaves me in crippling pain to use a pen. I don't think anyone believes me. ;)

Meredith said...

I wrote the first draft of my first WiP out by hand, and I have no idea how I did that now. Typing is so much faster! And easier to revise.

prerna pickett said...

I go back and forth. I like to write by hand when I'm outside with my kids, it feels more natural. But my hand cramps up pretty quickly, so I can't keep that up for long. It's also nice to have some quiet time alone with the computer to get my thoughts together.

E.R. King said...

I write the first draft of my queries by hand, and some of my outlining is done by hand, but once I get into the meat and potatoes of a book, it's all keyboard, baby!

Johanna Garth said...

No long hand for me. The idea makes me cringe. I tend to think that speed of typing makes up for ability to write wherever you are.

Rida said...

I wrote longhand until I got my own laptop- and I've never looked back. Plus, I'm totally out of practice. I can't imagine writing out LONGHAND the hundreds of pages I did write back then.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I almost always start by hand. It helps me to think non-linearly in the beginning.

Cynthia Lee said...

I've written a few pages by hand from time to time, mostly when I've been at the doctor's office or the DMV or something.

I'd much rather type, though. I always end up crossing things out and drawing lines to remind myself to put sentences in different places and my handwritten copy looks like it was written by a toddler by the time I'm done.

Dawn Ius said...

I read once that Stephen King wrote one of his books out by hand (much later in his career) and I've always loved the charm of that - but can never do it. I'll write snippets, but it's hard to edit handwriting (and I hate a mess in my moleskin notebook) and like you, I can't write as fast as I can type :-)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My hand cramps way too easily these days. Plus, I think I've grown too lazy to write an entire MS by hand. :-)

Tonja said...

My handwriting is terrible. Not only do I lose pens - I lose notebooks.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

My daughter write by hand, even when she has access to her laptop. It's just the way her brain works.

Now, the only thing I have that's done by hand is a family tree for my newest wip, and I'm itching to find a program to graph it on the computer.

Cherie Reich said...

Reasons 1 and 2 are the reason I don't write by hand. Plus, my spelling abilities go down the drain when I'm writing by hand. It's pitiful, and since the pen can't keep up with my thoughts, I tend to miss words. Then, you have to type it up afterwards. No thank you. I definitely prefer typing first drafts on the computer.

Maurice Mitchell said...

My typing is so slow, but I don't have the patience for lessons. Maybe writing by hand is the key to success?

Melissa Pearl said...

I'm totally hand writing impaired!!! My wrist gets so sore and my hand isn't fast enough for my brain :)

Kelly Polark said...

My house suffers from vanishing pen syndrome. I can never find one!
I handwrite picture books and poems, but use a laptop for my longer manuscripts like my mgs.

C D Meetens said...

I used to write first drafts by hand. I liked to see the process of writing (aka a lot of crossing out), and I could whip out my notebook on a train and start straight in.

The problem came when I started commuting by bus. No matter how hard I tried to keep my hand steady, the bumpy journey resulted in an almost illegible (and, in some cases, more than illegible) script.

Enter the NetBook (aka my new best friend). Small, fits in a bag, boots fast, and lasts for six hours before needing a charge. This is my current first draft companion.

Jane Charles said...

The first manuscript I ever wrote was by hand. I have a stack of legal pads of that story. The plus side of this is I edited as I typed. I partially wrote two more manuscripts and had someone else type them. I do 99% of all writing on my laptop now. But, I always have notebook with me if I have down time and a story is screaming at me and my laptop is not around.

Botanist said...

Most of my work is done on my laptop, but I will sometimes sit happily with pen and paper and write out a scene or two if I'm somewhere where laptops fear to tread.

carrieannebrownian said...

I started handwriting my books way back when, before I had my own computer and had to get permission to go into my parents' room to borrow theirs. Right now the only thing I'm still handwriting is one of my Atlantic City books, my magnum opus that will eventually be one book in 12 volumes, spanning the years 1941 to 2050.

I blogged about this issue as well, back in September:
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/why-handwritten/

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm like you. My fingers fly across the keyboard. If I had to write, I'd be less productive. I know of a few people who write by hand first, which impresses me. But I could never do it.

Angela Brown said...

I lift my pen with a bit of shame. A few decades ago, back in my teen journaling days, well, me, a pen, and a notebook could groove for hours. Nowadays, if it doesn't make it to the laptop...it just doesn't make it lol!!!

Dawn Simon said...

I usually write on my laptop, but I make notes to myself in pencil. I definitely like outlining in pencil--and brainstorming.

Donna Hole said...

Your #3 had me rofl. But I agree with all. Yeah, can't even read what I've "written" after the third or fourth page. I hand write differently than I type. A different mind set thing . .

Though, I'd probably be more productive without that instant delete key . .

I do like printing out and editing by hand though. My ms feels more book like I guess.

.........dhole

April Plummer said...

I am with you on all three reasons. Also, I have another reason not to handwrite manuscripts - my hands sweat. It makes it difficult. Sometimes, even typing is difficult, but not in the same way.

I LOVE handwriting things. There's something about a fresh sheet of paper and a nice pen that turns me on. But it's not practical at all for me. Though, as you said, I do admire those who do it!

Hart Johnson said...

I wrote EXCLUSIVELY by hand until I began doing WriMos. And my first WriMo really showed that my computer 'voice' was very clinical compared to my hand-written one. I was a journaler for years long hand and that transfer of emotion went through the medium point pen. I am a social scientist and researcher on the computer.

I have come to love doing a mix, though, as I am NOT a big fan of typing up what I already wrote (though it works as a level of editing, so it's not pointless). If I am on fire I can type about 2000 words in an hour and write about 1500 words an hour, so the speed is different, but not hugely so. And if I'm NOT on fire, the difference is a lot smaller.

J. A. Bennett said...

I am so with you!! except I can't read my handwriting regardless. Computers for life!

Karen Peterson said...

I love writing things out longhand, but the clickety-clack of typing makes me feel more writerly.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...