Why I write long hand and why I hate it

An innocent time

A long time ago I had a job where I worked four ten hour days. At the time it was great. I had every Tuesday off. It was pre-kids so I could sleep in a little, run some errands and enjoy the moment of having an entire work day all to myself.

Somewhere around this time I decided it was a time to try my hand at writing. It was something I knew I could do and Tuesday would be that day.

Suddenly a song by the Moody Blues comes to mind. Sorry, off topic.

This was my pre, pre, pre writing days, mind you. I use so many pre’s because I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. But regardless of all those pre’s that didn’t stop me from diving in.

I always wrote in the afternoon. I couldn’t be bothered with early morning writing. Who would do such a thing? In those days sleeping past nine, breakfast at my favorite greasy spoon and an hour or two of video games was clearly a priority.

Sadly the afternoon never got off the ground.

 

Something happened

Hand 5

Note: In case you’re wondering, the tiny words above say – I have no clue what I’m doing. That was me in a nutshell back in the day.

I would stare at my computer screen for most of the day. Sometimes I’d type a complete sentence but most of the time I didn’t. When the day ended it always ended with frustration.

Life went on and writing took a back seat but one day an idea came to mind that just wouldn’t go away.

I remember grabbing a notebook and a pen. It didn’t take long for a page to be written. Soon two pages, ten, fifty….you get the idea.

Hand

By the end of the week a giant chunk of my story was told and it all had to do with an old notebook and a favorite pen.

I remember staring at my lonely keyboard wondering what just happened. This isn’t right. A writer is supposed to sit up straight for hours at a time typing away. We’re not supposed to write long hand.

This is so grade school.

I forced myself back into the typing mode. I can do this, I promised. All the greats and not-so-greats do it. Typing is the only way!!!

Yes, I was shouting.

 

Discovering a system

Hand 3

But no matter how hard I tried I could feel the pull of the notebooks and pens. My stories came alive when I combined those two and fell flat as a pancake if I dare sit in front of my computer screen. 

Why?

It didn’t take long to give in. Who am I kidding, I told myself. Clearly I’m a little off. In order to tell my story I need pen and notebook and a whole lot of scribbles and dibbles. Ink stains on my hands and face. Whatever you say dear story, I give up. You’re the boss.

 

I hate typing

Hand 2

But on the flip side to this magical rainbow lies a dark side. For as much progress I make I still have the type the damn thing.

I still have to sit at my computer screen figuring out my scribbles and dribbles. I have to deal with the numerous red lines reminding me of my lousy spelling.

I continue to promise myself I will look into dictating software. I tried google and played around with memo on my phone but I have yet to find something that I like.  

But for all of my complaining that I do I really shouldn’t. My days of staring at the computer screen searching for an answer are over. I have a pretty good system so why bother messing with it.

But still….every now and then I wish I could be like Flash and stop worrying so much. If only I can figure out how to nap on that tiny chair maybe I could actually love typing.

Probably not.  

Hand 4

65 thoughts on “Why I write long hand and why I hate it

  1. I cannot be creative sitting in front of a computer screen. I have tried so many times, but the only time the magic happens is when I write longhand. I use the Dragon voice recognition software, and although it sometimes has a mind of its own, it can be trained to follow your voice correctly. I can voice 1000 words onto the screen in five minutes, so it’s pretty quick too!

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  2. I have to say I relate I lot to this. I too discovered that my ‘creative brain’ responds more to a pencil and a notebook than my laptop. Or, sometimes!es I can get a way with a tablet, tapping g my thumbs away on the screen. I, however love the typing up part – though it often takes me a bit of time to get around to it – because it gives me the chance to add and change as I go. I think there have been studies done which prove creative types are more responsive and productive when holding pens, pencils or other implements.

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    1. There’s just something about the pen in my hand and the paper in front of me. Ink stains and all those messes. Maybe it resembles actual physical labor where we came home a mess from a hard days work.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate to this 100%. I always carry pen and paper with me as I struggle to even type on my phone when I get an idea. I find physically writing with pen and paper quite therapeutic and I connect with the words I’m writing far more than typing on a computer. Your writing is incredible so keep doing what you’re doing as it is working just fine!

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    1. I always type it up a day or two after I write it. I try not to get to far behind. I have beta readers on hand so they need to read it. Down the road my editor will work her magic. As much as it pains me I do need to be somewhat organized.

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  4. You have a lot in common with many writers. Some I know and some I’ve never met but have written about their writing style and pen and paper is a common theme. I prefer pen and paper, but that’s just me because it seems redundant to write everything down, then go back and type it out. What I’ve found with this process is when one goes back and types out what we’ve written, we find mistakes, things that don’t make sense, sort of an impromptu editing tool. Again, that’s just me. Flash is so cute, asleep without a care in the world, or cat writers block, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the one plus I have discovered. After I type it out it does allow me to read it in a different way. I can now see it on the computer screen and that allows me to add or subtract the mistakes.

      To be like Flash. Wouldn’t that be nice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t think there’s anything magical with your pen and paper. It’s the magic of the red and white, plastic, Christmas party tablecloth.

    But seriously, from the comments before mine, it sounds like writing longhand is popular amongst creative types, so hey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We change the color to green when spring arrives. Gotta love the Irish. 🙂

      I’m beginning to see I am not alone and that’s the best. It shows how similar we are in our creating process.

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  6. This is actually the best way to do it! I’ve been reading about writing (hehe) and the best way to find flaws in your own writing and to edit it properly is to have to re-do it. So the act of writing it out by hand and then typing it up is going to be AMAZING for your story flow and ideas. You’ll be able to catch mistakes that you normally wouldn’t just by doing a read through. So you’re already on a good path! Woohoo!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true. Our minds work in so many creative ways. If we can tap into it one way and have it work another it will improve the finished product. Good luck in your future work. Let us know what you’re doing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Right now I’m now doing anything. I have an open note on my phone full of point form items for a book but I haven’t actually made the effort to form it beyond that. And I only have 8 points and I need 10 haha

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe that whatever way works for you is the right way to do it. I wish I could write in the morning, or write when I’m tired or really stressed, etc., but I can’t. But I still get writing done, and much of it, I’m happy with. Which makes it the right way.

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    1. You are correct. It all comes down to what works for the individual. Morning writing is my thing but I learned that the hard way. As long as you are productive you’re on the right path. Thanks for joining in. Good to hear from you.

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  8. You had me with the photo of Flash, LOL.

    I have a few friends who still write their books in longhand. I think it has to be whatever works for you. I’m a keyboard person, but I still love my notebooks, pens and even pencils. I make notes for my books in longhand, and any research material I record is done in longhand. Then when it comes time for actual writing, I move to the computer. The muse motivates each of us in different ways, I guess 🙂

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  9. I love the idea of long hand because I know it’ll keep me writing instead of being distracted by the internet, which happens when I’m on the computer. But I seriously have the worst handwriting, and unless I’m typing up my notes straight after, I can’t understand what I’ve written. I think it’s great you’ve found a system that works for you. I also don’t think you’re getting that chair back from Flash. It’s his now.

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    1. Flash knocked his brother off it this morning. That chair has created tons of problems.

      I too have an internet problem. I’ll be typing something up and suddenly I’ll have to know who stared in that movie I watched a few weeks back. It’s one of the many reasons why I write at the kitchen table completely off grid.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I use exactly the same method–“proto-draft” in longhand and real first draft on the computer. Somehow the sight of scribbled-upon or even blank paper has more promise than a blank screen. And with a longhand ms, I come back to where I left off last time, rather than seeing the beginning first and getting distracted by changing bits of it. But each of us has to find the method that works best.

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  11. I tried longhand. I liked it until it was time to type it all up. Then I was kicking myself. That aside, writing longhand kept my inner-editor side at bay. I was always moving forward, not hitting the delete button and futzing with previous paragraphs, like I do when I type. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was single and lived on my own I used to write in long hand and in a note book, due mostly to my eating habits. I hate cooking and I liked to go out for an Indian meal most nights, so I would take my usual table in the restaurant eat my Chicken Jalfrezi and settle down with two or three pints of lager for the evening. As I was a regular I was often distracted by chatting to others in the restaurant but that was fine by me. Now I am married I tend to write during the day on my computer and drink tea and eat biscuits or cake. It’s lucky my wife is a good cook and gives me a well balanced diet in the evening as even I know cake and biscuits are not the ideal diet! Mind you neither was four pints of lager and a ruby.

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    1. When you drink on a regular basis you tend to stay fairly sober, however there have been evenings when I had a few more but luckily the next day I can translate the scribble that was written at the end of the night. I used to write little comments on the things that happened when in my local Indian and always said it would be a great idea for a book but I think it would be even better as a blog post with others adding their stories too, I must try to look it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I write with whatever is available in the moment. I obsessively have to use Word if I’m on the computer, and I only have a Chromebook in my condo, so the other day I was in the bath and I had an epiphany. So I jumped out and found paper and a pen, and wrote it all down wrapped in a towel. Then I typed it up later:-) I still have several foolscap pages of my first novel in one of my desk drawers–it’s so funny to look back on it and think how much has happened since then!

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  14. I was a long hand girl for years; I just couldn’t get motivated by a blank screen. It felt so ominous. Now, I have grown to love typing because I can type faster than I write long hand, but I still always have a pen and note pad with me wherever I go. I find it kind of cool and romantic that you write long hand.

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