Taking the Longhand Road, by Linda Hope Lee
I wrote my first six novels in longhand, on college-ruled notebook paper, with a mechanical pencil. Yes, it had to be mechanical, with 0.7 lead. Then I transcribed the novels onto my computer, revising and editing as I went along.
For the twenty-or-so books that followed, I gave up the paper and pencil and composed directly on the computer.
Then last year, I got the urge to go back to pencil and paper. Could I write a novel that way again? Did I really want to?
I decided I did. I bought several college-ruled spiral notebooks and took out my pencils. I wrote straight through the story, without stopping to revise. At the beginning of each session, I reviewed only what was necessary to pick up where I'd left off. I filled three notebooks. And yes, it took way longer than it would have with the computer.
But I'd forgotten how relaxing writing in longhand is for me, compared to sitting with my hands poised over the keyboard. I'd forgotten how much I like the act of writing, of establishing a rhythmic flow of letters onto the paper.
My research on the subject of handwriting vs. typing turned up a study that showed the brain works differently in each process, and that students who take handwritten notes learn better than those using a keyboard. I don't know how this translates into creativity, but there are more writers than I would have guessed still composing in longhand. Among the notable are Joyce Carol Oates, James Patterson and Amy Tan.
Will I write another book in longhand? At this point, I don't know. I'm still revising and shaping the current one. I'll wait until the project is done and then decide.
What about you? Do any of you take the longhand road?