Ever since I was inspired to pursue writing, I've written my first draft out by hand. On rare occasion, I type out a short story rather than writing it out in longhand. Most of the time, though, I still place pen against paper during the drafting process. Because of this, I'm equated to hipsters who love typewriters. I'm always told I'm wasting time and too much paper. Despite everything said, I still enjoy writing out a short story or novel by hand first, and this is my defending argument:
Writing Makes You Smarter
To be fair, this was never part of my argument. I did, however, have a similar concept: Writing by hand slowed down the process to the point I could become more conscious of my work and bring out my entire writing arsenal. This discovery about the way writing makes you smarter is another good defense.
Writing out something by hand offers benefits most other forms don't.
This is as simple as it sounds. You are looking at what you're creating.
This is a huge focus with grade schools trying to branch off from the type of handwriting courses we had to suffer through as children. Motor skills are increased just by holding the pen and writing on paper. Let this go, and your hand might cramp during the most trivial of writings, such as a reminder on a Post-It note.
This is essential early on in life. If you don't start out writing by hand, you lose the memory of what the shapes look like and how your hand can form them with the pen. I found this true with my sense of cursive. I learned how to write in all of it's lovely scribbliness, but never kept up on it. I still struggle to remember what the Qs and Ys look like.
The aforementioned attributes are essential to adults and not merely children. In fact, slowing down to write is actually like molding each thought as it develops, whereas typing right away is nothing more than throwing clay at a wall. To comprehend the full effect of writing something out by hand, simply try it and ogle at the results.
True Intimacy of Art & Craft
This next reason for writing by hand was part of my original defense, not that a counter-argument is truly needed for a writer's process.
Along with the psychological and mental benefits of writing by hand, I choose to write this way because I feel a closer connection with the material I am trying to produce. For many writers, the thoughts soar by so quickly there's an impulse to hop on the keyboard and try to keep up. If you've written this way, you've probably hated the revision process.
If a full story idea if rushing through my mind, the first thing I do is jot down a dirty outline, which I may revisit later. The benefit of mapping out a story first is that you can work from the inside out. That is, if you know the inner most aspects of your story, you can better create the rest with foreshadowing, character behaviors, etc.
Once you're able to access more trappings, you can then write it all out by hand, which for me tends to result in a strong first draft and fewer grammatical errors.
Maybe it's the idea of taking time with a story, but I think there's something behind the proximity of your work. On a screen, things are a little more distant and have a finished look, whereas writing provokes you to alter things when you're typing them up. Essentially, you'll already be on your second draft by the time you're typing again. Also, having that material so close to you provides a sensation of actually being in the story. Mind you, this is only my method. I'd love to know if anyone else feels the same way.
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