Why I Love Hand-Writing My First Drafts

I don’t hand write everything. But I think I get in a better flow when I’m writing by hand. Mainly because I don’t have the distraction of Facebook or TNBW or Absolute Write or even the dashboard of my blog!

Also, when you write the first draft of something by hand, you get a second shot at the first draft when you type it. For example, I hand wrote part of a chapter of The Death Effect during down time at work the other day. Shhh, don’t tell my boss! (Not that it really matters that much because down time at work is literally seconds in between phone calls and guests checking in and out and stylists needing help with their schedules and the purchase order being checked in, etc. etc. etc. And, my last day is January 9, 2010, so, I think it’s a moot point anyways.) Here’s a few sample sentences that I hand wrote:

They each dropped a rose into the grave. Donny took Geri’s hand and put his other arm around her waist to lead her back to their seats.

Okay those are sooo not exciting. But! When I typed it into my draft I saw how unexciting it was and my inner editor changed it to this:

Her fingers trembled as she loosened her grip on the roses meant to be the last gift to her daughter. The stems rolled out of her hands and tumbled into the grave, a few petals breaking off as the flowers struck the casket. Her husband’s touch replaced the roses as he took her hand and put his arm around her waist to lead her back to their seats.

Still not amazing, but can’t you see the VAST difference! Handwriting is great because it gives you a chance to have 2 first drafts. If I had been typing my first draft, I probably wouldn’t have gone back through and changed that sentence until a couple of months from now, if at all, once I’ve finished the whole book.

I wrote the entire first draft of Twenty-Five by hand and didn’t start typing it until it was 75% complete.  I think that’s how I even finished it in the first place.  It feels more tangible when you can hold the pages in your hand, and it feels more like your work when you see your hand writing expressing the words making up a story.  I feel like I need to stop staring at a computer screen and pick my pen back up if I want to have any shot of finishing another book.

11 thoughts on “Why I Love Hand-Writing My First Drafts

  1. I’m actually the exact opposite. I get frustrated with handwriting because I think faster than I can write. And I love the sound of typing. The clicking that drives most people nuts might as well be music to me.

    Although I do have the same problem of online distractions. That one’s tough.

    I love reading about different peoples’ methods and how things work for them. It’s interesting to hear how different we all are.

  2. Candice- I like the sound of typing, too! Especially on my MAC laptop. But, I type faster when I have a copy to type off of, rather than typing off the top of my head. I guess I don’t think that fast!

    Ann- I wish I could tell you! I think rather slowly so I guess that’s how I do it!

    Corra- give it a try, but if typing has always worked for you, I’d guess you’ll want to go back to it eventually. What convinced you? The sample sentences?

  3. I understand exactly what you mean.

    That method used to work for me. Now that I’m surer of my voice and style, and have a lot less time to write, typing saves so much time. I only write when I’m not within reach of a computer, which is why I MUST buy a laptop this year. 🙂

  4. Yes, the sample sentences partially, but more than that it was the notion of two first drafts — and having something in my hands so I can see it grow.

    A different way of writing, and I might try it…

  5. So I’m a stranger, but just wanted to say, that’s how I compose as well (and also why – typing it into the computer is another draft entirely). I do that several times throughout the project tho and don’t do nearly an entire draft by hand, so much as a series of scenes that “need” to come out by hand first.

  6. I’m a key-tapper to pen-scratcher recent convert, and I love it! Unless I’m in a pinch I doubt I will go back. You are so right when you say that writing fleshes itself out upon entering it into a computer, it never ceases to amaze me. Great stuff!

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