photo credit cranium, via flickr
photo credit cranium, via flickr

I was having a terrible time getting going on Wings of Song. I would sit and stare at the blank page on the computer, finally write a few paragraphs, get going, feel pretty good, write a few chapters … and then come back either an hour or a day later and delete everything.

Finally, I took drastic measures. I pulled out my old clipboard, scavenged a lined paper supply from my children’s hoard (for whatever reason, they would ten times rather draw on lined paper than on blank), found my pens that are the only pens I can ever write with, world without end, amen (hey, I know I’m not the only one that fussy about my pens), and started writing longhand.

It worked. It worked really well. The writing is slower, but so much better – I can see the improvement already. Even the notes in the margins, rather than simply deleting and replacing text, seem to help.

Sometimes you just have to return to the old-fashioned way, right?

But oh, my poor hand muscles. They are so sore after a bout of writing. I started using a computer for all my writing purposes in college ten years ago (ten years! I bumped into one of my favorite profs this weekend while visiting home, and both of us felt immensely old when we realized how long ago it had been that I was in his class), and I’ve been almost exclusively computerized since. My handwriting muscles are seriously disused.

(This immersion into computer writing happened mostly because of readability. My thoughts have always raced so much further ahead of my fingers that my handwriting is cramped, tiny, and painful to decipher. My eyes, and the eyes of everyone who had to read what I wrote, figuratively danced for joy when I started typing.)

I keep reminding myself to be thankful I don’t live a few hundred years ago. Imagine trying to write a novel with a quill pen!

And no way will I start using candles to light my paper. I’ve done that before, when we lost electricity for two weeks following an ice storm. Never again.

I may be old-fashioned, but not that much.

13 thoughts on “Handwriting”

  1. I am particular about my pens as well. This morning my hand cramped up, just writing in my devotional journal. I wish it wasn’t so painful, because there is something about the flow of writing by hand.

    1. It does seem, to me at least, to be a more organic conveyance of thought to paper. I find I’m much less stilted, more lyrical, when writing by hand. Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on what I’m writing!

  2. Handwriting is really a matter of practise. I spent years writing in my journal every morning, until this January, when I quit (for reasons I won’t go into right now), and I really notice it when I sit down to write anything longhand. My writing is far less fluent now that I’m not doing it every day. Sad… So, all that to say, the longer you do this, the easier it’ll get, I bet!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I have fond, fanciful thoughts of getting so good at this that I am able to tackle every first draft by hand, and have it go just as quickly as if I were typing. HA. I’m enjoying it for now, at least.

  3. I used to write everything by hand. I’ve never taken a typing class and hunt and peck when I type. (Even though I’m on a computer all day at work.) So I’m not very fast. But NaNo and BuNo proved i could do it if I had to.
    I think it’s smart to maintain both ways of writing.
    And did you really write by candle?

    1. I did! We were two weeks without power, and I was working most daylight hours at the hardware store selling emergency supplies, so I tried to use some evening hours to write. It didn’t go so well.

  4. Were you thinking of me with the pen comment? Also, one of the main reasons I love the pens I love is they’re very ergonomic for me. I can write fast and long without cramping! Other pens, not so much– I really do notice the difference.

    Otherwise, I tend to write everything longhand first. Except really short or not-particularly-focused blogposts. (And comments. I don’t write drafts of comments). For some kinds of writing– the activity books I do, for example– I even have to have big sheets of paper and write in different colored markers just to sort everything out! (It’s not really writing at that point, though, more outlining).

    I definitely have to journal longhand. Particularly as I often journal about my dreams first thing in the morning, before I even put my glasses on!

    1. I have my eye on a pack of multicolored pens, in case I need to do some color-sorting later in the story. Or because I like to play with colored pens. I’m not really sure.

  5. I wrote my first three novels in longhand. Wrote some really long books because of it, and I’ll often have a notepad when i go places so i can jot thoughts when I get them, though these days it faster to type it up once and be done with it. Longhand will always have its place. :)

    1. I’ve been wondering how the second draft/first edit will go, with typing from longhand as opposed to making changes to existing typing. We’ll see, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will actually make for smoother and better editing.

  6. Writing a novel by longhand sounds difficult enough – but then revising it! Rewriting it! That’s what blows my mind away!

    I have been meaning many times the last couple weeks to do some free writing with a pen, this is yet another reminder!

    1. Oh, the rewriting and revising will definitely be done on the computer. At least that’s the plan right now. First draft longhand, the rest typed.

      Good luck with your free writing! Should be fun!

  7. I always wondered how Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and all the writer of long-winded novels wrote all that by hand without developing carpal tunnel syndrome. When I used to write hours a day (looooooong ago) I would end up loosing the ability to grip my pen.

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