Monday, February 17, 2014



I’m trying something new with the current book I’m working on – I’m writing it long hand!  I’ve always typed my first drafts on the computer so this is a big mental change for me. So far, it’s going better than I thought!

I’ve always struggled with that whole concept of writing “crappy” first drafts – just letting the ideas flow, not being judgmental, allowing the characters to take over and not to polish etc etc etc.  I tend to labour over my first drafts, trying to perfect as I go along. I wanted to see if I could free myself up.

So – longhand. I’m using a very fat exercise book, writing on the right hand side, single spaced (to reduce my desire to edit and change things), leaving the left hand side blank (so if I really have to I can edit and change things!) It’s working for me. I reach my daily word quota without too much difficulty. I’m writing in the first person so sometimes I pretend I’m writing a letter. 

My original idea was to write the whole draft before I went to the computer but the thought of doing all that typing at the end is depressing! So every morning I type up yesterday’s work, not allowing myself to do any major editing. That way I can check the word count and get a better feel for pacing.

I love the fact that it is so portable – I can take my exercise book and pen anywhere. This is probably the worst first draft I’ve ever written but it’s also the most fun – and I’m finding that ideas and new characters and plot turns are popping up everywhere.

Some thoughts on writing in long hand (taken from Page Fright by Harry Bruce):

“You have to communicate sensation, the belief in what life is, what it’s about, and you do it through learning how to handle a pen. That’s why I have always felt uncomfortable having some piece of machinery between me and the paper – even a typewriter, let alone a computer, which just gives me the horrors!”   (Joseph Conrad)

“I’ve got to feel the pencil and see the words at the end of the pencil.” (Faulkner)

“I do not go near a word processor, or even a typewriter. I cannot imagine how thinking can take place on these awkward machines. . . Why not use one’s mind in the old way with pens, paper, notebooks etc. instead of dazzling one’s eyes staring at a glass square which separates one from one’s thoughts  and gives them a premature air of completeness?”” (Iris Murdoch)

“It’s fatal to get ahead of yourself. Typing, you can take a wrong turn. But if you do it slowly, writing a foolscap page or two a day, in a year you are all done – you can’t rush it.” (Paul Theroux)

“I like the slowness of writing by hand.” (Susan Sontag)

“I used to work entirely on the typewriter. But this last book I did sitting in a lawn chair and writing by hand. Then I typed it out. Much slower of course. But I think it’s a pretty good method. It does pretty well.” (P.G. Wodehouse)

As soon as all this snow melts and spring comes, I’m going to give that lawn chair a try!


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