Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How I Save my Hand from Certain Doom and Still Get Benefits

I’m not a strong writer.  As in with a pencil/pen.  If I write a single page, my hand hurts so much that I have to stop.  Therefore, I type my drafts on a computer.  If I were to write it longhand, my hand would probably explode and leave its spattered remains over my manuscript.  By typing, I’m saving my hand, finishing faster, and I’ll be able to read what I wrote.  But what do I lose by leaving the paper behind?

It is interesting to note the difference between typing and writing longhand.  Livia made a post about it once.  By writing longhand, you’ll probably get a more coherent structure from the get-go, while typing allows you to change while typing, so you’re not as bothered to get everything right immediately.

But that’s not all.  Writing longhand has a way of helping you remember important bits.  Typing does not have the same effect (or at least not as strongly).  Read more here.

Having more of the important parts swimming in your brain is a good thing, for writing is essentially a vast number of connecting ideas.  We combine previous memories and information to get ideas.

When I’m planning or plotting, I sit on the floor and write ideas down on paper (Okay, sometimes I sit at a table).  Just having the idea in my head does not have the same effect.  Maybe it has something to do with having a visual representation, I don’t know.  All I do know is that it’s easier to connect and create ideas when I write them down.  Having written a previous idea helps spur on the new one.

It could be something to do with the neurobiology.  Livia has (on more than one occasion, I think) spoken of how reading about a particular action or sense activates the same parts of the brain that would activate if you were actually doing or sensing that.  With this in mind, writing about an event that happens in your story will, in much the same way as reading it, allow you to experience that same event, per se.  With that knowledge, you have a better chance of following up with the next event.  Perhaps the reason why pantsers (as opposed to plotters) write better in their way.  The story reveals itself to you as you write it, for you are, in your mind, a part of it.

In the same way, when I plot, I like to play out the scene in my head if I struggle to figure out what should happen next.

Writing things down have a multitude of positive effects, but specifically for me, it helps me remember ideas and cultivate new ones.

I don’t write my manuscript longhand, but I plan my story with a pencil and paper.  Only when I’m done figuring out the story do I turn to the computer to record it.


  1. I outline with pen, and I do write a lot of the first draft by hand, but my problem is when I come to type it up I can't read my own handwriting. On the plus side this does force me to think through the scene (in attempt to work out wha I meant) but it's annoying. At the moment I'm trying to teach myself to touch type so I can type as fast as I write, but hopefully more legibly.


  2. Haha, I think the same thing would happen if I were to write my draft longhand. When I write a lot, my writing gets really sloppy.

    But I'm surprised you can write faster than you can type.