Trading the keyboard for a pen

Many writers like to write their first draft by hand in a much loved notebook. Having always been a writer who types, I have never been able to relate the pen/pencil writers. Those I have spoken to said they like that it is too difficult to edit text as they write, so they don’t. As a result they have a much more free-flowing writing process, unhampered by the constant checking and changing that writing on a computer allows. Also they do their first very rigorous edit when transferring the story from their notebooks to the computer, giving them the opportunity to completely re-write sentences instead of being tempted to just move things around.

These seemed like valid reasons to me, so I decided to give it a go for last Sunday’s blog post. Having no pretty notebooks, I had to settle for a dog-eared pad. I started to write. I hated my first sentence and wanted to change it, but stuck to the ‘no edit’ mantra. I didn’t like the next sentence either and I realised that the whole blog was going in the wrong direction. At this point if I was on the computer I probably would have deleted the whole thing. On paper I pressed on.

Eventually I had a full post written (not that I had any idea of how long it was because there is no word-count on a pad). I disliked it very much, but went on with part two of the process; transcribing to the computer. Now while I rarely referred to what I handwrote, and what I typed bore little resemblance to the pad version, I will say the process of writing in one fluid sitting did help to focus my attention on what I really wanted to say. The typed blog came out quickly, and surprisingly required fewer edits than usual.

So would I write a novel this way? Not a chance! But I think I will plan my novels like this, as the free-flow writing was great. All I need to do now is find the perfect notepad…


5 thoughts on “Trading the keyboard for a pen”

  1. My theory on choosing workbooks is: If it is used mainly at home, buy a nice pretty one that inspires you. If it’s for cafe’s and train rides, then get a small spirobound one ’cause they’re just more practical. And you know I have a notebook fetish, so you now these are words drawn from experience… tee hee hee.

  2. I must confess, I was thinking of you when I wrote about the ‘perfect notebook’, but you are not the only one I’ve heard say it 🙂

  3. There are some computer programmes which aim to encourage working in a pen and pad way. For my thesis, when ideas are flying around and connections need to be made or forgotten forever, I used Scrivener and then retyped it into a LaTeX editor. Scrivener is just a joy for getting all the necessary info in one document. LaTeX takes a while to get used to (a bit like early SPSS!) but is well worth the time and much much better than word processors like Word!

  4. Thanks for the hot tip! I’m always looking for something better than Word so I’ll check these out. Last night Word and I were having an argument about if a bunch of returns should be headers or normal formatting. Word won. Grrrrrr.

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