Longhand or Typing?
Can writing longhand be a hinderance?
I wouldn’t have thought so. Heck, I’ve hand written a novel before. And isn’t that how J.K. Rowlings wrote the Harry Potter series? Longhand is awesome!
It is more common to hear about the problems associate with composing on a computer. I remember the first time I wrote a research paper directly on a computer and not just typed in one written on notepaper. It was difficult to adapt to creating and organizing my thoughts electronically. I was happy that my mom had convinced me to take typing in high school though! I did adapt and learn to navigate my way around Word and Pages. How can you not love copy/paste? It beats the circles and arrows I’ve used to “move” hand written text.
I consider myself something of a creative mutt. I tend to write my stories by typing directly into a computer. However, my notes for stories are all longhand in topic oriented journals (Scrivener isn’t available on iPads and that is my current writing computer of choice. Plus I HATE screen clutter.).
“Tend to write by typing” isn’t an absolute. And it wasn’t, until recently.
If you’d asked me last month my feelings on writing longhand versus typing, I would have jokingly mentioned that when inspiration hits, my handwriting can be atrocious! I scribble as fast as the ideas come to me, often then needing to interpret my muse inspired frenzied scratchings. I think at times I’ve invented my own hieroglyphic language!
I actually believe there are a few advantages to writing in a journal and then typing. You get to go over your story, granting a preliminary edit. My word use is minimum. To keep my notes legible, I try to write slowly and think about the pace of the story. Admittedly that breaks down when ideas really get flowing. But when a laptop is nowhere to be found and any sheet of paper (napkin to receipt!) will hold an idea (a pen or pencil does help too. I hate writing in blood or mud. Yes mud. I was desperate), well you go with what is available!
But recently I was completely stuck on a story. I was hand writing it, but it was’t moving. I would start a sentence and lose interest before reaching the end. It wasn’t that I had no idea on what would happen, I had several. They were battling out in my head and I’d start with the current winner and then try to end the sentence with the next thought. It made no sense. I was frustrated.
So one night I sat down at my laptop and started typing. Out spewed all the information and snippets that would have given me an epic writer’s cramp! My ability to write it out in longhand would never have kept pace with what was flowing from my mind. But typing . . . that I could handle.
To be accurate, I just took a timed typing test. Copying text, I was typing away at 80 words per minute. I would gander that when the ideas are only in my head and I’m in a groove, I’m typing between 90 to 100 wpm easily. There would be NOTHING legible in any handwriting I tried to produce at that speed!
I see the value in being able to transcribe ideas directly onto a computer at a speed that doesn’t trip up my thoughts. Who would have thought that typing could free dreams? So, you’ll probably find me typing my stories for the most part from now on. I’m sure there will still be those brainstorms that require a scribbled note to myself on anything available (I’m suddenly happy I’m not a romance writer. Can you imagine the notes my husband would be finding all over the house?!). That is until they find a way to capture thoughts directly so that ideas don’t have to be translated into words . . . now THAT would be something!