As I have often said, the only thing I write by hand anymore is my signature. Like everyone else of my generation we didn’t have computers in school so I did all my schoolwork and exams in longhand (anyone else remember massaging the palm of your hand in the middle of a Leaving Cert. exam because it was cramping so much – it’s called hand dystonia, trivia fans) but when I got to college that was the end of it. From then on it’s been computers all the way: in 9-5 jobs, in recreation time and of course when writing.
I read an article on Flavorwire last week about the writing tools of 20 famous authors. I was surprised to see that some of the contemporary writers featured use pencils and notebooks rather than a computer. Many of them say that writing in longhand forces you to think about what you are writing and refine the sentence before you commit it to the page. Neil Gaiman says: “I discovered I loved the fact that handwriting forces you to do a second draft, rather than just tidying up and deleting bits on a computer. I also discovered I enjoy the tactile buzz of the ritual involved in filling the pens with ink.”
I’m toying with the idea of doing the first draft of my next book in longhand. I reckon it’s always a good thing to shake up the creative process and any way of doing this is worth a try. I can certainly see that you would become less slapdash as you won’t have the simple option of hitting the delete key or cutting and pasting text. You would have to think about every sentence before writing it down and perhaps you would end up with a better novel in terms of style. It’s certainly a better option when traveling abroad: a pen and notebook are far more portable than a laptop, and you can hide away in a corner of a cafe and write rather than creating a fuss about WiFi passwords and broadband connections.
Any other writers want to weigh in on this? Would love some other feedback or opinions!