The Joy of Writing Longhand by Jenna Jaxon

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In this age of technology, where if you blink we’re in a new number of Windows, I have recently re-discovered the pleasure and benefit of writing my chapters out longhand.

Last weekend, ironically on Labor Day, I was on a road trip with my family, but didn’t want to give up several hours of writing time. I’d tried typing in a moving car and almost lost everything when the car hit a bump and my fingers hit a random combination on the keyboard. However, one of my chapter mates had told me that she writes everything by hand before she types it out. So I decided to try it.

I hadn’t done this in years—I think I have a manuscript in longhand from my very first novel. Because once I started composing at the keyboard, who needed to build up that callus on your middle finger?

So I tried it, got a whole chapter written between the round-trip, and fell in love with writing again. Not that my handwriting would win a prize for penmanship. Oh, no. However, I can read it when it counts, although sometimes I have to read it over and over searching for meaning.

The first advantage I found is speed. For some reason when I’m writing longhand, I can just write that movie playing in my head without having to stop, go back and fix things. Maybe it was all the notes I took in college that made me immune to self-editing longhand. I will go back and correct some things, but mostly I scribble it down and keep on truckin’. Which means I’m finishing chapters much, much quicker.

The second advantage is that I have a built in revision. When I finish a chapter written longhand, I then have to go back and put it down in the computer. Voila! There is my revision, all done by the time I get it typed. Having that longhand roadmap of thoughts makes all the difference to me. I’m one of these oddballs who loved doing revisions, so doing it this way helps both me to perform faster and better, and to hopefully turn out a better crafted project to my editor.

Callus, it’s time for a revival. 🙂

Does anyone else write their books longhand the first time around? What specific advantages do you think that gives you?

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8 Responses to The Joy of Writing Longhand by Jenna Jaxon

  1. thisisjean says:

    I totally agree! Transcribing my longhand work automatically gives me a first-round edit! I took to writing longhand on hot vacations, where lounging by the pool was not conducive to computers; too bright to see the screen! – JM

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    Often when I get some time, I will do my basic summary in longhand, so as not to forget it. It gives me a chance to play with the characters and get the ideas down. All the best on the latest work!

  3. My handwriting is almost unreadable. It happened sometime during law school. I would spend more time trying to decipher what I’d written than it was worth.

  4. Pingback: The Joy of Writing Longhand | Jenna Jaxon Romance–because passion is timeless.

  5. danijace says:

    I also find it freeing to write in longhand, which for me is mixed with print so I can read it later. Like you said, the self-editor is out to lunch when writing by hand and when you type into the document later, you already have a first edit done. I tend to pick up the spiral notebook when I’m stuck on a particular part of a story. Last year, I used this technique during lunch breaks to finish a story I now have under contract! Great post, Jenna!

  6. It would never work for me as I type at the speed my brain works, but I handwrite much slower and sloppier. It would make me crazy. Which is not to say I haven’t done it. My second and third books were written in longhand and then transcribed. As I recall, I wrote them during long car trips up and down the state of California, and possibly during a trip touring natural hotsprings in the South West. But I don’t think I could do it again. More power to you for finding sucess going back to your roots!

  7. Lola Karns says:

    My inner editor shuts down (well at least takes a nap) when I write long hand. The transcription process makes my first typed draft so much better. I find my thoughts are freer to meander when I scribble rather than enter them into the computer screen. Plus, my notepads and note books are more portable than even the laptop and I never have to worry about battery life. That said, I do a mix of both.

  8. Amber Dane says:

    Old school longhand author here- majority of all my writing is done longhand. I have a leaning tower of spiral notebooks. 🙂 Story & character flow faster than I can write at times and I find it soothing. Not to say there aren’t times I have to figure out what I wrote on a line or two…but it’s all worth it to me.

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