Should You Be Writing Your Book in Longhand?

Writing Your Novel in Longhand explains why some writers prefer to writing longhand and debates the pros and cons of this approach.

I started journaling again about two months ago. I’ve written diaries periodically through the years. I wrote one when I was a teenager and journaling was mandatory at the start of every English class. I’ve written travel diaries when I travelled. These assorted journals are scattered around the house, in my cedar chest, and boxes stored in the basement, but I’ve never consistently and willingly, without grades depending on it, written a journal.

But, now, every morning through the week, after eating my bowl of cereal and before I fire up the computer, let the dogs out and start into the business of my day, while the house is still quiet and I can only hear the ticking of the grandfather clock, I sit in my sunny living room and write in my journal. I write about the weather, my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts and my memories. The words just flow freely from my heart and my head onto the paper of a spiraled notebook purchased at the dollar store, so freely that I’m now considering writing the rest of the first draft of my novel the old fashioned way, with pen in hand on paper.

In high school I wrote my first serious attempt at a novel with a pencil on three ringed paper. I’d lock myself in my room for hours at a time and write and write and write until the callous on my finger was thick and tough and my fingers were cramped. The writing process was undeniably slower than typing away on a keyboard, but my focus was practically unbreakable.

But now when I try to write on the computer, the whole world is literally at my fingertips. When my concentration slips for just a minute, I find myself checking for the latest news headlines or the weather forecast or checking email. And, sometimes I find that I’m re-reading and editing my work excessively, just because I can and it’s so easy to do so.

There are a variety of websites and programs that promise to eliminate distractions. Some are free and some are paid or subscription services. I always convince myself that I don’t need to use them, that I have control and that I can write without a program to babysit me and block my access to the internet, and I don’t even realize until I’m suddenly surfing that I do need a program to babysit me and block my access to the internet—until the next time!

So my recent success with journaling has reminded me of how enthusiastic and focused I was about writing, just for the sake and pure joy of writing, without interruptions, so many years ago when I wrote with a pen and paper, and I’m seriously thinking of trying to repeat that experience. I’m thinking that I might edit it when I transcribe it on the computer. And, maybe, after doing this for a while, I will be more engaged with the creative process of writing a book and less distracted by the Internet and all that it offers, and can go back to working on a computer to write my first draft?

For More Information

It seems I’m not the only one who recognizes the joy of writing in good old fashioned longhand. For more perspectives on writing your novel in longhand, check out these articles:

Why creative writing is better with a pen
Writers Who Don’t Use Modern Technology
The Mighty Pen – The Benefits of Writing Longhand
Write or type?
Writers Writing Longhand
8 Ways Writing Longhand Frees Your Muse

So there you have it, the argument for writing without the benefits of modern technology. If you think about it, modern artists don’t make a point of using Paint Shop Pro to paint their pictures, do they? Maybe we shouldn’t be using word processors to write the first drafts of our books?

Would you consider writing your next novel in longhand? Please tell me in the comments.

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