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The lost art of writing longhand

I was talking with a friend today about my boundless love for Scrivener and how it’s totally changed the way I write. And she told me that she still prefers to keep all her notes on notecards, that putting pen to paper helps her internalize her thoughts that much better.

It made me realize another important discovery I’ve made over the course of working on this first draft, especially during the brainstorming stage, when I was doing brain dump after brain dump and trying to get to the heart of what exactly this story was that I was trying to tell. What ultimately led to my breakthrough? Writing it all out in longhand. Notebooks. Notecards. Scraps of paper.

I love Scrivener, don’t get me wrong. And everything I gushed about in this post is still 100% true. But I also agree with my friend that there’s nothing that beats the physical motion of putting pen to paper — of actually writing the words out — to make you absorb the thoughts, turn them over in your brain, let them sink into the cracks, and eventually, unlock those creative juices.

I haven’t yet experienced writer’s block with this story (hark, that’s the sound of me knocking on everything made of wood within a foot of me). I’m fully convinced that it’s because I’ve been taking the time to write things in longhand — whether it’s scribbling notes here and there to work out a plot dilemma, or actually writing out a scene. I find that writing out, actually writing it out — gives my brain the kind of “warm-up” it needs to get going and once it’s going, I’m in business. That’s when I go into Scrivener, transcribe everything I’ve written, and next thing I know, I’m finishing up a chapter I just began a few days prior.

It’s an extra step, no doubt about it. Sometimes, it gets cumbersome, and I can tell you that my wrist and hands aren’t happy with me for putting them through such strenuous workouts. But the benefits of following this method have been second to none. I’ve managed to crank out 60K words in 3 1/2 months (which is a very speedy pace for me) and if anything, I feel as though I’m on breakneck speed, rather than slowed down by this method.

More importantly, I feel as though I’m really internalizing my story in a way that I don’t think I would have if I weren’t going over and over it like this. First, by starting out the scene in longhand, then transcribing it into Scrivener, then finishing it. It works for me. And it’s making me fall in love with writing all over again.

 

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

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About writejenwrite

Silicon Valley marketer by day, novelist-in-training by night--running addict, foodie, bookworm, pop culture enthusiast, and aspiring philanthropist in between.

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