The Pros and Cons of Writing Longhand

I love writing longhand. That is, I love to write the first drafts of poems, short stories, novellas, and novels with a pen and paper. Putting pen to paper gives me a sense of belonging to a greater tradition that dates back thousands of years as a method for telling stories. It allows me to feel more at ease when writing because I don’t have to worry about charging some sort of device.

My love of this form of writing aside, there are some pros and cons to writing longhand.

Pros

  • You don’t need to charge a pen or pencil and paper.
  • You can’t lose the first draft of a piece of writing from a computer/device crashing.
  • You don’t have to backup said device(s) to prevent the loss of a draft.
  • You can write with any pencil or pen you have on hand, printing of cursive/script.

Cons

  • Finding a longhand setup that fits your general needs can be a hassle.
  • Fire and water can damage the manuscript.
  • Transcription into an electronic device is pretty much required and annoying.

As you can see, I’m on the side of there being more pros than cons and the pros are all practical issues. But there is one major pro I neglected to put on the list: the difference in thinking pattern when writing longhand versus directly into a computer or other electronic device.

When writing on a computer or other electronic device, we can go back and change any and everything we please at the drop of a hat. And this isn’t a bad thing except that it may, for some writers, facilitate procrastination via fixing all of the fiddly bits instead of simply writing the story, Which can leave a writer in an ongoing state of limbo as far as their stories are concerned.

There may also be a general creative difference for some people. For example, I find that the story flows more naturally and feels more organic when I do my pre-editing read through if I write the story out longhand first. This then allows me to get in a quick editing pass when transcribing the story, to sort of super-charge my editing.

However, I can’t say that I find the whole lugging around of a binder to be something I like doing. So, I’m considering a move to a more portable notebook-based setup. It’s where I started when I was just a kid playing around, so it makes sense that I would eventually come to another point in my life where it would be the most logical option for me again.

Next time you get the dubious pleasure of reading an update of what I’ve been up to this month. I hope you find it as fascinating as I found this month interesting (read: frustrating.).

In the meantime, please feel free to follow the blog, check out my Instagram and Twitter, and follow me over on Facebook.

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