Welcome to Writers’ Uni-Verse-City (or WUVC for short because every university has an acronym), a place where writers/bloggers can meet to discuss the craft of writing in the Internet age. WUVC will involve independent research, setting a curriculum and hopefully finding other participants (like you – readers/bloggers/writers) to: chip in, give tips, suggest books and other materials for study, teach me the ways of the warrior writer, and offer to guest post here at Uni-Verse-City (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
With laptops and computers by the dozen, the advantages for copy or cut and paste and generating word counts at the click of a button, it has become commonplace for most writers to put fingers to keyboard than put pen to paper.
Sometimes when I’m lacking in motivation to write or I just need some downtime after work, I read author interviews or watch videos of author interviews. These have proven to be fascinating. First of all, you get an insider’s look to the author’s personality, get to hear them talk about their own work and can also glean some great writing tips. One of the most common interview question is “what’s your writing process like?” or some variation of this.
Each author has a different answer, whether they must listen to a certain type of music, have a specific beverage, be in their office or at a café, each person has their own way of creating stories. During my leisurely research, I’ve been amazed to learn which authors are pantsers and which are plotters, but even more astounding is discovering the authors who write by hand. I will talk a little bit about Jackie Collins, Cecelia Ahern and J.K. Rowling, who all like to writing longhand.
I recently came across a video interview with Jackie Collins, a New York Times best-selling author of 28 romance novels. In an interview on her latest novel, “Goddess of Vengeance” she said that the book was 2,000 hand written pages. 2,000 pages. She has got to have strong wrists to produce that much text by hand. She has an assistant who types up her written work and then she edits off a typed-up version. Very interesting.
Here’s a quote from Jackie Collins on her writing process:
“I’ll stagger to my desk and I will pick up my pen and I will write a sentence. I write in longhand. It takes me a long, long time to write my books. I have them bound in leather when the book is finished. I do a lot of things on the computer but when it comes to writing I want that black felt pen and I want that yellow legal pad and I’m good to go anywhere in the world.” (source)
An author, who I’ve read two novels by so far, Cecelia Ahern, also writes her novels by hand. In earlier interviews with Ahern on her first best-selling novel, P.S. I Love You, I’ve read that she used to write from 10pm at night until about 6am, and that wasn’t because she had a day job, it was because that was the time of day she liked to write.
Cecelia Ahern says on her process:
“I write longhand. I’ll do a chapter and then type it into the computer and edit as I go along. I use pen and paper because I love the physical act of writing — and that you can sit down anywhere and do it longhand without worrying about low batteries or internet connections. I can write pretty much anywhere.” (source)
Another author who writes longhand is J.K. Rowling. I watched an early video interview with Rowling where she took the cameraman into her house and had all her notes and drawings spread on the floor. It was like looking at a gold mine of work. Rowling did so much research, note taking, idea generation and even drawings of her characters and their world. It appeared to me that she was so much a plotter that when it actually came to writing the novels, it was the fastest part, but this could also just be my perception.
J.K. Rowling said on her writing process:
“I still like writing by hand. Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer. For some reason, I much prefer writing with a black pen than a blue one, and in a perfect world I’d always use “narrow feint” writing paper. But I have been known to write on all sorts of weird things when I didn’t have a notepad with me. The names of the Hogwarts Houses were created on the back of an aeroplane sick bag. Yes, it was empty.” (source)
How romantic an idea it is to write by hand with pen and paper. I can image that it is somehow freeing to be away from the glowing screen and blinking cursor. Maybe it really could fuel creativity and allow the words to flow faster without typos or being able to delete so swiftly. I also read in these author interviews, I can’t remember if it was with Jackie Collins or Cecelia Ahern or even someone else, that they have to think about what they are going to write before the pen touches the paper because of the fact that there is no handy delete key. The only option is to scratch it out and make a big mess or crumple the paper up.
I think I just might try to write something in longhand. I like writing on the computer because I can type much faster than I can write and when I do write fast it gets very messy. Maybe I’ll start with a blog post just so I can do something from start to finish and see how it turns out.
Do you do any longhand pre-writing? Do write full drafts by longhand? Do you think the physical act of writing would change your creativity? The direction of your story? The final product?