Friday, October 5, 2012

Typing v. Longhand?

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool typist myself. I find using a word processor easier and far more convenient. If I want to move text around, forget scratches and arrows. There’s this nifty little feature called cut-and-paste. It makes editing and organizing so much simpler. And I can type faster than I can write with a pen and paper, making it a more efficient use of my time as well. But mostly, I type because when I try to write longhand, it ends up looking like this:

Yeah. When I go back to type up what I’ve written, I can’t read half of what’s there. And that’s another thing I don’t like about longhand—first I have to write everything out and then I have to go back and type it up. It makes me feel like I’m doing the work twice.

So I’m amazed to know that authors like Garth Nix and J.K. Rowling write entire novels longhand. But obviously something about this method of writing works for them, and I guess that's the point
finding what works best for you.

So, which do you prefer: typing or longhand? And if there happen to be any longhanders around Project Mayhem parts, please explain to this perplexed typist what the appeal is. You’ve seen what my longhand looks like :)

-Dawn Lairamore

photo credit: Kat...B via photopin cc


  1. I always start writing in longhand! I love sitting at my desk with a notebook and pencil. It's exciting to fill up those stark white notebook pages with sentences that'll make up my story. The words come to me easier in longhand.

    Then I like having to type it on my computer because it's like doing a revision. So when my novel is done, I've already gotten a good start on the first draft revision. There's still major editing to do, but a lot of the nitpicky stuff–grammar, excessive adverbs, passive sentences–has already been cleaned up!

  2. I'm an avowed typist, but I've discovered the secret of long-hand: it helps with brainstorming and figuring out plot details. I've taken to outlining in long-hand, on yellow legal pads or scraps of paper for my corkboard or half-sheets of typing paper. There are actual studies that show the mind-hand connection unleashes something in the brain.

    It's brilliant for plotting and planning. But when I sit down to write prose, long hand is far too slow for me. Then my typing skills come in handy as I fast-draft words on the page. But when I get stuck...back to the drawing pad. :)

  3. I start in longhand -- the character sketches, outline (yes, I'm one of those), and the first chapter, but I write skipping lines. Then, once those are done (loosely-speaking, of course!), I transfer them to the computer....and start my "outtakes" file!

  4. When I was young, and first started writing, I was committed to longhand, but this was back when a nice computer was a 486, or a Mac LC, so I kind of had an excuse.

  5. i am a fan of the longhand. i have about 10 different journals/composition books covering my writing space. i number each page (bottom corners) so that if i have to refer back to a thought, i can just put a page number and mark it with a highlighter or red pen etc. i find that it's easier for me to use the longhand via journal; reason 1--my ideas come to me at any moment of any day. i have the journal with me to record all thoughts/dialogue that pop into my head at random times within 24 hour periods. reason 2--it's a sense of accomplishment to finish a journal/comp book with filled pages of all my thoughts. it's somewhat of a goal to push myself to fill pages in order that i can purchase another! i do use computer software and i tell myself i'm adding double work to myself. but when the thoughts come, i want to record them that moment before another replaces it. it's all in the way my jibbered mind works. keepthefaith!

  6. I almost always start longhand, where I can think in a non-linear fashion.

  7. I don't write paragraphs and chapters in longhand~ I keep everything from notes to outlines on computer, and prefer it that way. I DO keep a small paper notebook where I jot notes from time to time, but the vast majority of my primary novel prep and execution is always on computer. Which is why I love my hubby for getting me a back up drive, which I update daily :)

    PS~ I'm reading Ivy and the Meanstalk right now and LOVING it :)

  8. Mostly, I write at the computer. However, I do work on some stories in an actual paper notebook. Those are the things I do away from home. Both have attractions. When I write longhand, I can more easily expand on things when I go back to type them into the computer, but it does take a lot longer, because, yeah, I have a hard time deciphering my writing. I suppose they both have a place for me.

  9. Wow, so many different styles and approaches! It's great to find what works for you. I don't think longhand will ever be the most comfortable method of writing for me, but I see it has a lot of appeal for many. I can see where the freedom of writing longhand would help with the inspiration process.

    And Jess, I'm so glad you're enjoying Meanstalk!! That example pic of my longhand above is actually a scene from Ivy and the Meanstalk, written when I was away from my laptop and jotted down on a legal pad. I'm lucky I could read it the next day when I sat down at my computer. But hey, the scene made it into the final version of Meanstalk, so I suppose all is well :)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!