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Writing Fiction Longhand


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51 replies to this topic

#1 Deirdre

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 21:24

I've discovered why I write fiction better longhand.

The prose isn't any better, true.

But I can take it anywhere and not feel self-conscious about writing. It seems less like ignoring the people around you than taking out a computer does. I can write in smaller increments as it's less of a pain to get pen and ink out.

Last night, I wrote a page while waiting for my husband, a page while we were in our seats waiting for the comedy show we were going to to start, a page after the show while we were eating ice cream. Those three pages totalled 715 words.
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#2 Splicer

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 22:58

Good insight, thanks!

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#3 elizajones

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 00:06

When I use a word processing program, I can't suppress the urge to constantly revise. When I write initial drafts in longhand, I rarely even cross out a word because that would break the rhythm. Maybe that's why I have about 300 handwritten pages of the novel I wrote for fun, and never got past the first chapter revisions on the computer.

#4 Deirdre

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 00:46

QUOTE (elizajones @ Mar 5 2009, 04:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When I use a word processing program, I can't suppress the urge to constantly revise.

Ditto! Thus the longhand experiment I've been undergoing.
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#5 QM2

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 00:57

I always write fiction first in longhand, because the physicality of it seems more appropriate. The computer is too clinical and abstract, putting me more into a mood of writing reports, articles and policy documents.

#6 CarolinaWriter

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:31

I find that I accomplish more writing by longhand or using my Alpha Smart. There are just too many things that can grab my attention when I am on the computer (such as FPN) roflmho.gif
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#7 Splicer

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 07:00

QUOTE (CarolinaWriter @ Mar 5 2009, 05:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I find that I accomplish more writing by longhand or using my Alpha Smart. There are just too many things that can grab my attention when I am on the computer (such as FPN) roflmho.gif


Is that the Dana Alpha? Some of the most productive i've ever been, creative-writing-wise, was with a portable folding keyboard and my Palm. I was always really curious about that Dana device.

Makes me want to dust off my eMate.

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#8 hamadryad11

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 13:42

I have been doing most of my writing longhand for the last year and a half, at least. In some ways it's working well. I have fixed number of pages that I write every day (I set my goal at the beginning of the month and stick with it), which means I write consistently every single day. I can also write just about anywhere, even standing in the checkout line at the grocery store if it's taking too long. When I go out to buy a new handbag, I actually take my notebook with me so I can make sure it fits into the new bag. biggrin.gif

The problem I've been having is that I've fallen WAY behind on typing it out so I can get it organised. I'm very non-linear when I write, so I jump all over the place. Now I'm at the stage where I'm not sure what I need to write to finish the story. I need to fill in a lot of blanks, but it's all mixed up. I desperately need to type it out and get it sorted.


The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -- Herbert Spencer, (1820-1903) British author, economist, philosopher.

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#9 CarolinaWriter

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 17:35

QUOTE (Splicer @ Mar 6 2009, 02:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is that the Dana Alpha? Some of the most productive i've ever been, creative-writing-wise, was with a portable folding keyboard and my Palm. I was always really curious about that Dana device.



I have the ancient AlphaSmart 3000 that is still going strong. When this one dies, I may upgrade to the Neo or Dana. I've played with both and they are great little machines.
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#10 David III

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 19:49

I am definitely better with a pen and paper, I'll write more and seem to keep my thoughts moving forward (though I do cross out a word once in a while). Typing into a computer, I end up thinking "newspaper" and blazing the words into it like there's some deadline, then as I'm typing, I'm trying to edit what I've typed one line up. Not very productive, or perhaps I should say not very "pure" - it ends up looking like journalism and doesn't really have the flow of a real conversation.
It is nice to hear that I'm not alone doing this. My wife thinks I am crazy since I'm wasting time writing and then typing...

#11 Robert Hughes

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 19:59

I write my




fiction three words




at a time.
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.

~ Bernard Shaw.

#12 ajaxline

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 20:16

I often start new projects in longhand, then once the idea has quickened and caught hold, I'll move to the keyboard in order to keep up with my thoughts. There is something more ritualistic about sitting down with pen and paper that makes writing more than just a chore.

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#13 tamburlaine

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 09:48

QUOTE (CarolinaWriter @ Mar 6 2009, 01:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I find that I accomplish more writing by longhand or using my Alpha Smart. There are just too many things that can grab my attention when I am on the computer (such as FPN) :roflmho:


Bah! Excuses! Use Linux. CTRL + ALT + F1 and log into the black & white text-only console with a text editor. No distractions at all!

#14 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 19:34

I've always written my drafts longhand---though not always with fountain pens, true. Some were written with a legal pad balanced on my knee in a library, or outdoors on a picnic table, probably with a gel pen.

Indoors, though, fountain pens are the instrument of choice. I simply enjoy writing with one. I can think better, do the cluster exercise, make little margin sketches.


#15 dogpoet

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 19:39

QUOTE (Splicer @ Mar 6 2009, 07:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Makes me want to dust off my eMate.

I've got one of those. Great device, but it's proved impossible to hook it up to a Mac running OSX. (Which is infuriating as PCs still have serial interfaces and you could probably run the software so it'll talk to the other in Windows.) This limits it's use a bit, sadly. An Alphasmart would probably be just the ticket for a replacement that I can actually connect to stuff.

#16 henrico

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 20:15

happyberet.gif I began a writing project several years ago consisting of short stories about happenings and events in my life. I now have approx. 40 stories completed, all done on a word processor. I never would want to do this with a fountain pen and don't see the point in using such a method for writing anything that is lengthy, even as a draft. I would never get done. But I can see putting down your thoughts on paper, statements in point form, with a FP when away from your normal writing location which is what I often do. There are times when certain thoughts will occur only once and when you lose them, they are lost for good or you've lost the way you wanted to express something. So, I always have a pen and pocket notebook handy to note down such moments of creativity. IMHO.

I use FP's mostly for letter writing and for my diaries. smile.gif

Jane Austen had no choice but things have changed............I think. hmm1.gif

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#17 dogpoet

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 20:59

QUOTE (henrico @ Mar 9 2009, 08:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I never would want to do this with a fountain pen and don't see the point in using such a method for writing anything that is lengthy, even as a draft.

One reason I've seen cited a few times is that writing something in longhand first and then typing it up later forces you to revise it, rather than just sticking your first draft straight into the computer and leaving it at that.

#18 Deirdre

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 21:47

QUOTE (henrico @ Mar 9 2009, 12:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I never would want to do this with a fountain pen and don't see the point in using such a method for writing anything that is lengthy, even as a draft. I would never get done.

I spend my entire working day in front of a computer.

Furthermore, I can write longhand in places it'd be impractical to haul out even a laptop. For example, I wrote a page the other day while waiting for movie previews to start. Those page-here, page-there pieces add up.

To give you an idea, I'm writing about four times more quickly than I was on the last novel I started. I'm not a one-draft writer by any stretch, but getting the first draft out is always the hardest part.
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#19 Deirdre

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 21:48

QUOTE (dogpoet @ Mar 9 2009, 12:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One reason I've seen cited a few times is that writing something in longhand first and then typing it up later forces you to revise it, rather than just sticking your first draft straight into the computer and leaving it at that.

That too, though I'm doing very little structural change when I type in what I've done. For me, it's about the freedom of being away from a computer's constraints.
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#20 Writer44

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 21:55

I typically write the first draft of my novels longhand with a fountain pen and notebooks. This is a great method for me because there are fewer distractions such as easy access to the internet. Plus, no electricity required. Then, I type this first draft into the computer, editing along the way to create a second draft. Most of my books have gone through at least 4-5 drafts, sometimes more.

Starting with pen and paper always works for me.

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