I write all my books longhand.
I can imagine what you look like about now. First, your eyes widen in shock that someone in this technological age is still using the antiquated art of longhand. Then once the surprise wears off, you’re left wondering why anyone would waste their time, doing such a thing.
When I first started writing, computers were still relatively new. The only way to get on the internet was dial-up, there wasn’t anything like scrivener or Goggle docs, and we saved everything on a piece of plastic called a floppy disc. I didn’t even know how to work one, nor did I care until the night Princess Diana died and I wanted to read the London newspapers.
Still, I wrote my first book on my newly acquired laptop. And rewrote it. And wrote it again. Seeing my work on the screen was a problem for me. Once it was there, I wanted it to be perfect, so I’d switch a sentence around. Or I’d try different taglines. Or I’d change my character’s emotion. My first book took me six years to finish. You read that right—SIX!
I finally threw the floppy disc into a drawer and started another manuscript. This time, I wanted to be smarter. I needed to figure out a way to silence my internal editor and get the story down in a reasonable amount of time. First, I tried an AlphaSmart (for those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s basically a word processor.) I figured if it didn’t have a screen, I wouldn’t expect perfection.
Wrong. Though I did get the work down quicker, I still had a big problem. I’m a sucky typist. A writer who can’t type. When I had typing class (you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I was too busy flirting with the cute boy next to me to actually practice. After all, I wasn’t going into any field that would require me to type.
Yeah, God is still laughing about that one.
Then I read an article on the positives of writing longhand. First, it slows down your thoughts which for someone like me who has 22 tabs open, most of the time that’s a good thing. Secondly, it helps curb that nasty internal editor. Plus there are those people who find writing longhand helps them to study or memorize a piece.
So, I tried it and found I surpassed my previous daily word counts. Writing longhand helped me get the first draft down, and that pesky internal editor that had hounded me for years was silenced. With the introduction of the iPad Pro and Apple pencil, I can now write longhand, then translate my writing into text that goes into my word file. By the time it’s to this phase, I’m ready to edit my work or as I tell my family, ‘pretty it up.’
Another thing (and this is important) if I write my story longhand, I find that when I edit, it makes the process go a whole lot faster. For me at least, writing puts it to memory which makes my second and third edits a breeze. Results don’t lie—since changing over to longhand, I’ve written four novels, ten to fifteen novellas and dozens of magazine articles and devotionals.
So, if you’re having trouble getting words down, give writing longhand a try. Personally, I use Vera Bradley notebooks (you can get 550 words per page) and EnerGel pens in navy blue, but a notebook and pen from the dollar store work just as well.
Trust me, it works!
Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or reading on her back porch.
Dr. Joshua McClain is heading west but first stops in Hillsdale, Michigan, to break the marriage contract his late mother arranged between him and Katie Clark. Years ago, Katie left him behind in Charleston after the tragic death of her mother. But after a train crash, he comes face-to-face with Dr. Kathleen Clark, his childhood friend all grown up. When Josh shows up in town, claiming they’re betrothed, Katie refuses to consider an arranged marriage. She’ll marry for love or not at all. Besides, he’s headed for Kansas Territory; her practice is here in Hillsdale. Then why are they both finding it hard to break their betrothal and say goodbye?