You may have noticed that I've been rather quiet on social media and all that stuff lately. It's because I've been WRITING. I didn't want to admit it, but I've been having a bit of a block since I finished the Secret Sci-fi Project. I used to write every single book by hand first--before ever typing a word. Of course, this would take me a bit longer than just typing it and having it all on the computer ready to edit, but I felt like I was missing something. I don't think I've written an entire book long-hand since Animal, and that was over three years ago. Now, I'm writing the Dark Contemporary Romance by hand and I LOVE it. So here are some reasons I think you should try it out.
1. Writing by hand makes you a better writer!
This sounds kind of simple, but it's true. Writing things out works different parts of your brain than typing. Think of all the things you type or text during a day. Somewhere along the lines, your brain registers typing with a monotonous, everyday activity and not something special. However, when you sit and write in a notebook, you are subconsciously telling your brain that it's special-writing-time and it gives you license to let your creativity run wild!
2. There are a lot less distractions.
Your computer is basically a hub of people wanting to talk to you, things to read or look at, and cute animals. Most of the time, when you go on the internet to "research" something for your novel, you can get caught in a hole of Buzzfeed articles and quizzes telling you what type of pizza topping you are (I'm mushroom). When it's just you, a pen, and paper, there are less reasons to go off script so you become more productive.
3. Helps commit things to memory.
I always really liked taking notes in high school and college and it took me a while to realize that the reason was that it helped me remember the information I was learning far more easily than if someone just showed me slides or if I had to type something up. When you're writing your first draft, you are learning about your novel, your plot, characters, and everything that goes on inside that little contained world. When you write it by hand, you are more likely to know your story better when you commit it to screen.
4. It prevents self-editing.
I know I'm a victim of writing an obscene amount of words, taking a "break" (taking a quiz on what my eye color says about my digestive system), and then reading those words back and deleting them. I'm not saying you couldn't just as easily cross out what you don't like when you write by hand, but it's not exactly the same as making it look as though they never existed like you can on a computer. You're forced to look at this eyesore and you soon find out that you'd rather just leave those words and figure them out later, when you're actually typing. At least that's how it works for me.
5. You feel more free.
There's something about writing in a notebook that brings back memories of me as a kid writing in a diary what I ate for dinner (I had a boring life lol). You feel safe and secure knowing that no one is going to read it and it can't accidentally get into the wrong hands. Plus, if you're anything like me, no one would be able to read your handwriting anyway. You want to write yourself notes? Do it in the margins! Want to give yourself a reward when you reach certain milestones? Put a sticker on it! You can plot and plan between pages, make them pretty or ugly, do whatever you want!
6. You can draw things!
This is a big one for me. Sometimes I'm trying to describe something and it's easier if I draw it out first. This can be people, decor, or whole floorplans. It doesn't matter if you have no artistic ability; it's just for you. You can even doodle when you get stuck so it keeps your pen moving and your mind thinking!
7. It forces you to slow down.
Since we type so much in our day to day lives, we become typing machines. People type fast and they type often without thinking too much about what they are saying or how it comes out. When you write by hand, you're forced to slow down how fast the words leave your head and make it to paper. This gives you time to think of how to word things, if the story is going the right way, etc. It also makes less work for yourself in a sense, because you get the wording as close to how you want it the first time and you don't have to completely start from scratch.
8. It's satisfying in a different way than writing on a computer.
When you write ten pages in Microsoft Word, they tell you how many words it is. That in itself is pretty satisfying, especially when writing is often reduced to how many words your book is. However, when you look at what you've written by hand at the end of the day, ten pages is often a lot more and it's just a different kind of satisfaction.
9. It's easier to take with you.
People take their phones, tablets, and laptops pretty much everywhere, but what if you're going somewhere you can't have electronics? What if you're going on a hike, or if your phone dies, or if you just hate that one class you take and want to look like you're working when in reality you're writing a novel? Notebooks are far more portable and they come in all shapes and sizes. I know that when I was in college, I had a few classes I had to take to get my degree (public speaking, spanish, health). Most of the information was already taught to me in high school so I was often bored. If I took out my phone, I would get in trouble. But if you're writing away as they drone on and on, no one is the wiser.
*But use that last one with discretion. Sometimes you need to learn stuff.
10. All the cool writers are doing it.
The whole thing that sparked my interest in getting back to writing in a notebook was a post Anne Rice made last week on her Facebook page. She was saying how she had written all day by hand and how much she loved it and it really made me remember how much I had loved it in the past. So I wanted to look up what other writers hand write their work before they type it up. Here are just a few:
Joyce Carol Oates
George R.R. Martin
Were you surprised by some of these? I know I was! Of course, my husband (second to Gordon Ramsay and E.A. Poe) Neil Gaiman is on there. ;)
So all in all, if you've never tried writing your work by hand, I suggest you do. It can't hurt to try, and not every method works for every writer, but you never know what you might learn about yourself and your story by exploring a new way of doing something.