Why I hand write versus type my first drafts

Lissywrites/ July 26, 2013/ Uncategorized/ 0 comments

Call me old-fashioned, but even at my age, I prefer the written word over typing up something. I still write letters, notes, and thank-you cards, mainly because it just seems more fun that way. Why? Not exactly sure. My friends say I was born an 80-year-old woman, and I have to agree with them in a few instances, but there is a method to my madness.

Maybe you’ll agree, but maybe you won’t. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

    Writing in a notebook makes it that much harder to go back and edit extensively. Not saying it can’t be done, but it’s much harder to flip back and mark things out than to just scroll up and start butchering left and right. There’s nothing wrong with fixing minor errors, mind you. But large, developmental edits should be saved until the very end when there is a final product in your hands.
    Less distraction = more writing. With the internet and my tiny brain, I am constantly fighting with myself to stay focused. Sure, they have meds for that, but I prefer the non-medicated Lissy when I write (Just by-the-by, I don’t condone any form of drug or substance abuse. Drugs are bad, so don’t go pilfering through your grandma’s medicine cabinet for those little orange heart pills. They’re bad, too). Notebooks tend to be less distracting, so onward I go.
    It’s a disease, I admit it. I love nice notebooks, the Cambridge Mead brand in particular. They’re just lovely to have, and I love putting them on shelves once they’re filled to the brim with my words. There’s just something so satisfying about filling up a notebook. It’s like a mini-job-well-done. Can’t beat that.
    My brain is constantly spitting out new little details to be added, whether it’s later or earlier on in the manuscript – doesn’t matter. I’ll scribble that puppy in and once I’m done with the first draft, I’ll fill them in during the rewrite. This is definitely a point that I’m going to have people argue with me over, but, in my case, I find it easier to use margins for my notes rather than the note feature in Scrivener. *shrug*
    Word counts shouldn’t matter. They just shouldn’t. You need to focus on the first draft and get that baby done – word count, or not. Write until you finish. Handwriting allows me to avoid the constant pressure of checking for that word count. I focus on the story, and check the word count later.
    I’ve already written an extensive post on my editing process, and I don’t plan on going through it all over again, but I do hop from notebook, to typewriter, then to computer so I can get thorough readings and edits done before any major developmental work. It’s just a part of my preferences I suppose.

It’s long, drawn out, and old-fashioned, but it’s how I do it. Now, for my favorite part of any blog post: The Discussion. So, I shall ask you all a couple of questions. What are your preferences as far as writing goes? Do you have notebooks dedicated to first drafts? Do you only use computers? Do you take advantage of typewriters? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.


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About lissywrites

As an avid writer and poet, Alyssa Hubbard explores the earthly and spectral talismans that carry us from life to death and back again through her work. As the darkness within makes its way from pen to paper, she finds room for more joyous activities, such as sampling new ice cream flavors, singing in public, and geeking out over the latest anime. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English, works in Digital Marketing, and has been writing (professionally) for 8 years. Her work has been featured in literary journals and magazines such as Adanna, The Coffin Bell, and many others.


  1. I handwrite my first drafts as well. I am addicted to the Planahead journals that come in all kinds of colors and designs and are hard back. I like being able to take my work with me and not having to lug around a computer. That is one of the reasons I handwrite. The other is because I feel more connected to my writing and when I finally do type it up it makes me more aware of some of the things I messed up on while handwriting the first draft. Loved your post!

    1. I appreciate it, and I will have to try out the Planahead journals. They sound absolutely amazing.

  2. I enjoyed this post! I’ve tried handwritting a first draft before and it was quite rewarding. Granted the draft was just a short story, it was a nice experience , and I found I was much more productive. I have the problem of butchering a story if I type it on the computer first. I don’t this this every time but… it’s a problem. Thank you for sharing these reasons. I look forward to other blog posts.

    Erinashley2, I agree with the connection that you feel when hand writing. There’s something hypnitizing about it. I feel more honest with my words if I have to take the type to write them myself. Great point 🙂

    1. It’s definitely a much more raw experience, and it’s rewarding to have a finished draft in your own handwriting at the end of it. No one can copy that, and it’s a treasure. Thank you for the support, and the wonderful comment. Happy reading, happy writing!

  3. I’m a notebook junkie, too. Nice post.

  4. Some good points here. I have the problem of editing and butchering if I write on the laptop, rather than just getting on and writing the story. I love Moleskine notebooks and I love seeing them fill up too. I also have a favourite pen and there’s something very organic about handwriting something. It also makes it more personal.

    1. Words flowing from my mind, to my arm, then draining out of my fingertips into my pen, then leaking onto the page as the written word.

      Artsy-fartsy, but that’s how I see it.

  5. An excellent read. Your post made me consider my writing preference. I hadn’t thought of this until now. I always wrote in longhand until I bought my first laptop in 2008. I haven’t used a typewriter since the late 80s. Thought they were obsolete. I want one now. I love writing in a journal. It’s convenient. But I like to use the laptop for creative writing.

    1. To each their own, I suppose, and I never used a typewriter until an older relative showed it to me. Thankfully, I weaseled from him and he said I could take it home. I worked on it myself for a month, then got a ribbon, and I’ve been using it nearly non-stop ever since. Something about the constant clicking, familiar, but still so new, is comforting, and really gets my creative mind going. My laptop is solely for editing and formatting now.

  6. Pingback: Developmental edit recieved – dealing with the fallout | Preserve Your Memories and Save Your Self

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