Writing Organic: The Long-Hand Debate

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Producing a full manuscript by handwriting might cause blisters, excessive vulgarity, Carpel Tunnel syndrome, nearsightedness, and temporary insanity. 

I recently had the opportunity to view an interview with James Patterson about his writing process. It was interesting to me (and many people will know this) that James writes out his manuscripts in long-hand on legal pads. For a moment, I was taken aback at the inefficiency of this practice and began to question my own process. How would I ever finish a draft writing that way? Would I connect with my writing on a deeper, more visceral level by pressing pen to page, words to fingers, hands to mind? The more I thought about the writing process and the success that James has had building the body of work he produces, the more I realized that writers might occasionally be better off embracing the lost art of handwriting.

But…

Handwriting a 70,000 word manuscript would take me at least twice as long as typing the same project. I have had weekends in which I wrote over 20,000 words and that would never happen with pen and paper. Were they all good? Of course not. But when you are plowing through a story, sometimes getting the scaffolding in place is more important than what you hang on that structure.

Writing a book, story, or article is not an exact science. If it were, we would all produce the same structurally sound, cookie-cutter, McMansions of text. The process that works for one author may be out of the question for another, but sometimes picking up the pen or pencil and organically working that chapter on paper might be the key that unlocks a deeper understanding of character and story. Who knows?

Perhaps the pen (or pencil) is mightier than the keyboard.

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