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?