George R.R. Martin is doing it, also Danielle steel, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan and more published authors are doing it longhand.
The main reasons for writing longhand are easier to agree with:
- It’s less “cold” than sitting in front of a computer
- It removes distractions like emails, social media and cat videos
- It is a slower process that makes you think of every single word you write
But there are more reasons for why writing longhand in the midst of the laptops-and-tablets-era is still the smartest way to write a novel. I’m going to get over the top and say that if good writing is able to connect with the human spirit, longhand writing is one step closer to it.
1. The body remembers best
As writers we constantly try to emulate our imagination, feelings and memories in our characters’ speech and actions. We sit in front of a computer, trying to conceive a situation that will make us feel a certain way. We try to figure out a way to transfer our thoughts into words on the flat white screen. We hit the plastic keyboard and the word processor starts to mark our words with different colors that indicates typos or broken grammar. Now we desperately try to stay focused and feel the real literal impact of our imagination. This is so hard to do.
Writing longhand allows you to eliminate the barrier between your thoughts and your words. Your experiences are flowing from your mind and into your body, arm and the hand that holds the pen. There’s less friction and more direct energy flowing with no interruption of blinking cursors or spelling errors. Even your hand writing will change throughout the process depending on the mood you’re writing in.
2. It’s the way we grew up as toddlers
As toddlers we are used to examine the world by touching everything. This might got our parents tensed on the edge of their sits while watching us in fear. Naturally, this is how we get to know the world around us. We touch, we eat stuff that we shouldn’t, we break and we assemble. Writing longhand is just a gentle descendant of the physical joy of exploration we have in this world. Especially if you’re writing a children’s book but also if you want to connect to your inner child or with a fresh energy of curiosity, write longhand and allow your self to scribble and doodle on the way.
3. We’re in output mode rather than an input mode
Why do we usually sit in front of a screen? To read, to watch, to buy, to work and to be entertained. Maybe except from working it is all just a form of receiving instead of creating. Granted, the stuff you “create” at you’re daily job is rarely art (unless you’re a professional artists of some sort). The screen emits light onto our eyes, we’re bombarded with colors and flashing objects and millions of photons. It sounds like we’re under attack and we feel like the muse should appear on the screen as V.O.D would, that the thoughts should gather for us as social comments to our tweet or that we’ll be writing fluently in a matter of seconds because we live in an instant world.
This in front of a computer situation is not natural or ideal. Our human bodies are not used to sit in front of computers. This is something that we humans are only doing for about 30 years. This isn’t in our “nature”.
On the opposite, while writing longhand we’re in output mode. Nothing is projected at us. We can sit on what we want, how we want and we don’t unconsciously feel like the paper should entertain us like a screen does, this is our part to do.
longhand writing connects you with your words, literally.
If the world’s most known authors are writing longhand, there’s might be a good enough reason for you to start doing it yourself. But now you’ve read the true reasons for this to be more beneficial. And one more advice from me. Don’t waste time on revising and editing, edit only when you’re done writing. Make all the corrections while you type the words into the computer. This will allow you to switch hats from a writer to an editor more easily and to read your words with fresh eyes.