Thursday, March 8, 2012

Longhand, anyone?

Source: via Mieke on Pinterest

Were you able to read that?

I went to an all-girl Catholic high school back home. Aside from the uniforms we wore, almost every student had a penmanship style that was very distinctive and identified any girl that went there. Mine isn't as obvious as my other classmates, but I think you can still see the long tails and sharp angle that make up this style.

Anyway, back to the information I'm seeking. If any of you still kick it old school: write in longhand, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you do it, what it feels like, and if you think you'll ever stop.


  1. Yes, I could read your handwritting, and the nuns would be proud of you. I went to Catholic School also and remember practicing our penmanship over and over until Sister Regina was satisfied and if she wasn't we would receive a slight tap on the fingers with her Star War laser like ruler. I don't think good penmanship is even required in today's classrooms, shame.

    1. Thanks, Marie. Penmanship was one of my favorite classes is grade school. In my kids classrooms today, very little emphasis is given to artful penmanship. As long as it's legible, they're fine with it.

  2. Nope. I could only read about half of that note.

    I do write in long hand all the time when I'm drafting. I find it's more creative-friendly than the computer for coming up with new ideas. Don't know why, though maybe it's because a notebook isn't plugged into the internet, and I'm able to focus more. Hmmm....

    1. I have to agree with you the unplugged nature of the paper and pen. Sometimes, sitting at a computer has a "fixed" or "final" feel to it, so I find myself worrying about whether or not what I type "looks" right immediately.

      Thanks, Luanne.

  3. I write in longhand when I'm away from a computer. (I do not lug around a tablet, or write on a cell phone, or anything like that. I am trying to keep from being plugged in 100% of the time.) But it's not my first preference.

    There are writers who draft in longhand, though. You could probably post this question at Verla Kay's and find some.

    1. Thanks for mentioning Verla Kay's site. I'd never visited it before, and I see that I should be.

      I am always impressed by your staying unplugged as much as possible. I'm trying to work on that myself.

  4. Writing longhand broke years of writers' block for me. I think there's something formal and professional about a computer. When I type, I'm usually typing for someone else to read, or to keep things organized (that, unfortunately, is a losing battle).

    Things I type are factual, precise, consistent, heavily-edited (usually). So sitting in front of a blank .doc and trying to pull all the artistic, creative thoughts out of my head didn't work. The thoughts are jumbled but the expectation of neatness and organization from the .doc page were too much for my head and I would usually have to run away, or time would just expire. Or I would get lost in the Internet, disguising procrastination under the innocent name of research.

    But a few years ago I discovered that the old-school, marbled black-and-white composition books now come in billions of colors and patterns and cartoon characters. Ooo, shiny. I started building a collection, more for looks than function. But then there was a point in time when I was ready to write but my computer inaccessible. So I picked up a purple pen and started scribbling, and I kind of felt like I was back in 5th grade, in the Creative Writing Club, and the words and ideas just spilled out faster than I could write them. I didn't feel the need to edit every sentence; actually I could barely read them (my handwriting is much worse than yours!) But this was during NaNoWriMo, when it is important to just write words, and the ideas flowed and flowed. And that was the first year I won, after four previous Novembers of squirming in front of the blank .doc.

    I think very little of the "brainstorming" will end up in my actual novel, but I developed a sense of things in the story. Themes, characters, settings, etc. I line-edited a lot of it when I typed it up (under the midnight November 30 deadline), so it was a little tidier, and I will have an easier time when I go to finish it (I've shelved that story, but will definitely be revisiting it).

    I use the composition books because I have long held that spiral notebooks are inventions of the devil; because the "kleen-edge" notebooks lose their pages faster than I lose my focus; and because they're cheap. I really like nice notebooks, the fancy journal-types you can pay a fortune for in bookstores, but a fancy notebook sometimes presents the same threat that a blank .doc presents. "I spent a lot of money for this notebook, so my thoughts must be organized and my handwriting impeccable." Plus the full-size ones weigh a ton, with those heavy covers.

    Haha sorry Mieke, I think I just wrote a blog post in your comment box! But you were asking a question, yes I do write longhand, and I have the used-up composition books to prove it! At the moment, I'm editing my 2010 NaNo novel, and I used both a purple composition book and a red one with white scribbles on it. :) Most of it in purple pen, which I intended to be my "signature" (hah), but as it turns out I'm getting a little tired of it.

    I also printed out some blank character questionnaires, and whenever I'm stuck on what to write, I'll go back to those and fill them in, writing background scenes on looseleaf paper and keeping all that in a big binder. The binder also has my original draft, the synopsis, and outline. Mostly I'm working on backstory at the moment.

    I may have broken my writers' block though, becuase I only needed to write a few pages of the 2011 NaNo longhand. I do have a dedicated notebook on the shelf for it though, one with pretty brown and pink and yellow stripes :) And I will get back to that one eventually!

    1. Haha! Absolutely loved reading every word of your comment. It's obviously touched a nerve in you, and I'm honored to have sparked some of these thoughts in you.

      I too feel the same way you do. There is something "free-ing" about writing in longhand. There's a private nature to it. No one really sees handwritten communication anymore, unless you're still in school. I believe we're preconditioned to think that handwriting is not a "final" version, and that only the printed one is.

      Thanks for coming by my blog today. I'm glad to hear from you.


Thank you so much for your kind comments.