5 Things I Hate (And 3 Things I Still Don’t) About Writing by Hand

One of the best things I’ve done for my writing so far was getting a simple tablet and a full, wireless keyboard. Both are lightweight, both fit in almost all of my everyday bags, and they’ve carried me through several novels already, since I got them last Spring.

Oh, and I am aware how privileged I am to even be able to ditch the pen and paper method of keeping score. I count it under small everyday blessings (and the fact that I was lucky enough to get an alright full time job relatively early on in life).

#1 I can’t read my handwriting anymore. Oh joy. Sure, I could read it if I wrote slower and with more care, but it’s almost like asking someone to think slower. No can do.

#2 I still have to type it all up before I use any of it. Sometimes it’s useful in the basic brainstorming way, but most of the time, I write too much down, and then I have to go through all of it, and typing stuff up takes time. I should know—I had to type up most of my beginner writing endeavours up in the early 2000s. (Funnily enough, most of them at my childhood library’s first public computer—the exact same library I ended up working in, decades later.)

#3 I still get carried away when I use a notebook while plotting, and then I create unusable—and too numerous—plotlines. Which is to say, my brain still likes notebooks. It’s me who doesn’t.

#4 I forget where the notebooks are. So sue me. (I even used a notebook to start plotting Johnny’s Girls sequel, a few weeks ago, but I lost track of it after I’ve typed up the most important points from the offline copy.)

#5 Notebooks are heavy. And if they’re not, they’re too thin to matter (or be useful, at all), to me. Praise tablets—not the clay type.

Even so, there are a few points in favour of notebooks left in me, still…

#1 Writing in a notebook means less hours staring at a screen of any kind, which is absolutely something I should strive for, as a person who has been reading almost exclusively in ‘the digital’ ever since 2013 or so. Sometimes I do just need to look at something, anything else. (Especially when my roommates are being curiously calm at a certain time.)

#2 Jotting down ideas in a notebook is still a bit faster than waiting for all of the docs to load. Should I have gotten an app for it? Probably. But I swear by (Google) docs, as a person who has lost writing due to tech issues before, and as a person who prefers simple editors to kitchy, sparkly ones with way too many options. Picking up a pen and a piece of (bound together) paper is always going to be faster.

#3 There’s something thrilling in going back to my roots, and I still adore writing by hand. Yup, even with the illegible handwriting and all. I still keep an irregular diary, and I love the flow of the pen across the paper, especially the heavy, off-white kind. As a longterm word addict, I used to own a ‘special’ pen when I was younger, of course, and I still have all my school side notebooks. (You know, the ones which kept me awake during lectures. The ones which have short stories written in the back. And the ones which have innumerable spreadsheets in them, ranking my favourite ships, from Ammar and Jehane to Anakin and Padme, based on scoring through several, quite elaborate factors.)

Still, there are no words to express how grateful I am to be able to create fiction (and, you know, non-fiction) by simply putting my fingers to the keyboard(s) and typeing away. And my back’s grateful, too. (So are my notebook shelves!)

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Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash.