Why the Longhand Writer?
When I started writing years ago, my friends and I would pass notebooks back and forth to each other in class, making up stories together. None of them were outstandingly good—though we might have thought so at the time—but it paved the way for a life-long affair to writing, and to writing things out rather than on a computer, in particular.
I grew up without a computer of my own, without a tablet or a smart phone—when I was in high school, those things didn’t even exist. The closest thing I had was an old electronic Brother typewriter, but the green display screen was so small, you could only see two lines of writing at a time. It was fascinating to use, and to see it print out my small, burgeoning-writer paragraphs, but not a very good option in the long run for me.
And so I had notebooks. Piles of them. College-ruled. Different colors for different things (easier to locate the proper one to pass off, of course). I even had a particular kind of pen I always got and used—which is near impossible to find now; fear not, for I have found another type of pen just as good, and my longhand writing days are not in danger of ending.
My days of passing notebooks to friends in class are long behind me now, but I still have the notebooks, and this is where the name comes in. For the majority of my stories, it just doesn’t feel right to type them up straight onto a computer. I feel that I usually have a better flow when I put pen to paper, and despite having a rather high typing speed, I don’t get slowed down too much by writing things out longhand, as I suppose a lot of people tend to nowadays. Notebooks are portable, and do not require batteries; I still have particular notebooks for different stories (and at least one that is in its fourth notebook, including notes as well as narrative), and am in the habit of toting the major ones around with me in case I get a moment to scribble down ideas.
I work best being able to literally spread all my notes and maps out around me, physically flipping through pages to read margin notes and notes proper, and reference back to previously written parts of narrative. I can’t do that so easily with a computer, and being as tactile and as a kinesthetic learner as I am, I’m not sure I’d want to figure how to do that electronically. Part of me feels I would lose the hands-on connection I very much have with my writing.
This is not say that computers or tablet devices don’t have their uses for writing—they certainly do, and I’ve found that with a tablet device, I enjoy editing on it, and in fact am writing this very post on my tablet—but nothing beats pen and paper for me.
I can’t doodle references in the margins of a tablet or computer, after all.
Perhaps if one day there is a good app that allows one to write on a tablet the same way one can write on a piece of paper and save the words that way, I might give that a try, but until then I will stick with doing things the longhand way.