Writing–Writing Longhand

The English alphabet, both upper and lower cas...

Using my child-tending mornings two/three days a week to work on writing projects has me writing in a notebook. My laptop is in need of a new battery, but even if it didn’t, it’s much easier to walk a notebook next door than to bother with my laptop. It’s been a while since I’ve written longhand this much.

Back in the day, when I first started to write seriously for publication, I drafted all of my short stories longhand. I’d do my first round of revisions when I typed the story up. It’s a habit I got into because I was working retail and I’d write on my breaks. It’s a habit I got out of when I stopped working in retail because I had my computer at my disposal at all times. It seemed silly to bother with writing it out longhand and then typing it up. It was like a waste of paper.

Getting back to it now in the mornings I’m telling the boy it’s time to take a shower and eat his breakfast to break up his Pokemon DS quests, I realize that it’s not silly or wasteful. It’s true I don’t get as much done in that time span writing it out by hand, but I’m a little more thoughtful doing it that way. It’s not as easy to correct myself with ink and paper. And I don’t like a lot of scribbles marking up my paper, even if it is a first draft. So I pay a little more attention. The idea that I can go back and fix it (which plagues me because I still do battle with the voice in my head that I MUST get it right the first time) is still present in some sense, but I think I end up with a slightly better first draft than when I type it on the computer first.

I think part of that is because writing it out by hand does slow me down. I type like 70 words per minute (that’s an estimate based on a typing test I took at some point in high school, so there’s very much a margin of error here). Because my fingers can nearly keep up with my thoughts, I don’t take much time to pause and reflect when I’m getting that first chunk of story down. Writing longhand slows that whole process down. I can’t think about what’s coming next because I’m still working on what’s happening right now.

It’s a nice change of pace. Writing on the computer and then writing on paper is doing me more good than harm. The back and forth makes me feel more productive and better at what I’m doing.

It makes me FEEL that way. I can’t guarantee that’s actually happening. But it’s a nice feeling.

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