I was dwelling in the realms of social media this morning and came across a tweet in a writing community. In essence it was an aspiring author asking the Twittersphere the best way to write their novel. In the neatly itemised list there was the usual questions about whether it is better to be a plotter or a pantser (J.K Rowling is a planner, Stephen King is a pantser so I guess the jury is still out on that one), and whether it is better to type your novel or write it long hand.
That got me thinking, because, to be honest when I’m writing it usually occurs as a frantic unburdening of words while the inspiration is hot (YES I’m a pantser. Yes I write down what the voices in my head say). The point of what this young writer was saying is that they had heard hand writing a manuscript fuels creativity. Again I’m not sure if this is true for all of us. I do write the vast majority of my novels longhand but maybe not for the reasons you are thinking.
There is something seductive about a virgin notebook. Crisp unmarked pages just beg to be written on. Notebooks are portable, balance perfectly on your lap and NEVER need to be charged. Running out of ink in your biro can be a problem. Some of my old notebooks have stories in them that are written in whatever colour ink I could lay my hands on at the time. Being a teacher there is always a pen/pencil/crayon laying around although I do draw the line at yellow gel pen. Who ever thought they would be useful must also have shares in white colouring pencil. Yes, I know there’s a market but it’s not for me.
I can also hand write faster than I can type when the inspiration is galloping. There is something awful about seeing the red squiggle under a word or the double blue lines. I can’t leave it alone. I just have to go back and fix it. It interrupts the flow and there are times when I’ve lost the words I wanted to use. When I go long hand it doesn’t matter. I cross out huge chunks of my less than perfect hand writing but I seem to be able to pin the words to the page.
In the end it doesn’t matter how you write, just that you do it. I’ve written novels on my phone. I’ve typed every word, but the slightly deformed callous on the middle finger of my right hand reminds me that I’m an author who creates best when they write the words long hand.