My friend Lori recently said that, after a conversation we had about writing longhand, she started writing in longhand and found it reignited her writing. I usually write longhand anyway but if I was writing historical fiction, as Lori is, I would definitely need to write longhand. The language and temperament of times past would need to go from pen to paper. A keyboard just wouldn’t do. I think it would jolt me out of the past every time.
But, like I said, I usually write longhand anyway. The words flow better if they go down my arm, into a pen and out on paper. As a pen fanatic, and a fickle Gemini, I tend to change pens a lot. Sometimes it can be one of my expensive (well, expensive for me, I don’t go into the over $100 variety) collectibles like a Parker 51 fountain pen, or a Waterman Expert ballpoint, or the Cross Morph engraved with “this much is true” that some friends gave me for my 40th birthday or, as I’ve been using of late, a cheap, Bic Wide Body.
The pens change but the notepads pretty much stay the same. Oh I love my moleskines for jotting notes and things but the actual writing goes in a cheaper notepad. The name brands might change but I always write in 24.1×15.2 cm (9.5×6″) side coil note books. I have stacks of them filled with bits and pieces of everything from short stories to new ideas to essays to chunks of novels. I never write just one story or novel in a notebook, as Neil Gaiman recently said he does. I have no order to them and when I’ve filled up another one, I go through the book and write a list of the contents (without page numbers) on the inside cover. Sometimes there are only five or six things on the inside cover. Sometimes I have to make two columns to fit it all the contents on one page. The first several of these notebooks I filled often had stories written backwards in them, in that I would start a story on one page then continue it on the previous page, working backwards in the notebook until I was finished. I think I did this with the hope that I would stop if I met another story but I didn’t and some stories overlapped, one going forwards in the book and one going backwards.
I’ve tried writing in pretty notebooks but they stifle me, on yellow legal pads, composition books, loose leaf pages, and larger side coil notebooks, but I always return to the smaller ones. A couple of years ago I just gave up trying different things and decided I’d stick with what works for me.
I transcribe the writing I think I will use but there is plenty of stuff left in the notebooks that may, or may not ever get into a word processor. And I do write using a keyboard sometimes, either my computer or my wonderful Alphasmart Neo. Usually, the keyboard is for when I have a deadline and don’t have time to write longhand and transcribe, for writing nonfiction, or when I’m writing more lighthearted things. I write humour better on the computer for some reason.
Oh and blogs. I always write blog posts on a keyboard (how else would you be able to read them, silly).