5 Reasons to Type Your Draft

December 8, 2009 at 5:12 am (Editing, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , )


It is an old argument; should we write on the computer or write by hand?  Honestly it comes down to whatever works for you.  My first manuscript was nearly entirely written by hand in the first draft and was typed out several years later and has since undergone a massive restructuring but some of the original lines have stuck all the way through, which is nice.  I haven’t tried to duplicate the effort since it is much easier to edit if I just type it out to begin with.  Here are my 5 reasons to type rather than handwrite.

1.  I can type much faster than I can write.  Much, much faster than I can write and I can almost always read the results.

2.  I can type without looking at anything in particular so I can shut my eyes and go for it.  I cannot write by hand with my eyes shut.  This helps me to focus on the story I am writing and to visualise the scene I’m trying to describe or the character I’m currently introducing.

3.  It is harder to lose information.  Not impossible – we all know computers crash, break and fail massively, but it is harder to lose things.  I have at least three copies of most data and I make sure I regularly back everything up so I’m not too worried about losing entire drafts.  I have misplaced notebooks and entire print outs of drafts though.  That is quite annoying.  Plus my cat eats paper (not joking) and it is really hard to edit a manuscript with a cat trying to eat the page you are reading.

4.  Spell check.  No, you should not rely entirely on spell check as it has quite a few issues but it does catch the out right silly errors that you make while typing quickly with your eyes shut.  Spell check is definitely a friend.

5.  As I said in the introduction – editing.  So much easier to make changes and adjustments on the screen then in a note book.  By the time you cross this, circle that, draw arrows indicating where that should go, and you get to your twentieth footnote, the notebook becomes unreadable.

These are my 5 reasons as to why I type instead of hand write (for the most part).  What are yours? Or do you still hand write?

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19 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    This was the hardest transition for me–from notebooks to the computer. I was much more creative on paper, originally. My deadlines made me make the change—it was taking too much time to transcribe the notebooks to my Word program.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think I’m more creative on the computer, but also more easily distracted by the internet.

  2. Carol Kilgore said,

    Type. Give me paper and something to write with, and I doodle. Like you, I sometimes write with my eyes closed. It helps keep my focus on the story, especially when I’m really zipping along.

  3. kelseyparks said,

    I prefer typing most of the time.

    1. It’s better for my wrists (I have carpal tunnel syndrome)

    2. I get far more done in less amount of time.

    3. Spell Check: If I’m typing to fast I tend to have a few spelling errors
    .
    4. Fixing mistakes: I never edit my novels on the computer. I don’t catch everything but it sure is a lot easier to change and fix on a computer than on paper. If I am rewriting something and I want to keep a scene or two, then all I would have to do is copy and past while on paper I’d have to rewrite it.

    5. Privacy: I own my own computer so no one will feel nosy and look through my work. I hate it when people do that. I even put passwords on my projects so no one could open them.

    But if I get stuck, I have to write by hand. Writing by hand brings me closer to whatever I’m working on and it moves me forward. That’s really the only time I write by hand.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think my stuff is more private if I hand write it because no one can read my hand writing. I’ve often scribbled out a story plan and given it to my husband to have a quick read through and his answer is usually, why don’t you explain this to me. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Sevvy said,

    I hand write if it’s a quick scene that I don’t want to forget, or the beginnings of a short story, or if I’m just away from the computer. I try to make sure I still write some stuff on notebooks, just to mix it up a bit. Mostly I write on the computer for similar reasons you’ve stated about editing and such, but my biggest reason is because if it’s really something I want to pursue, it’ll end up on the computer anyways, so it might as well start there. I really don’t like being inefficient (to a fault, actually), so I try to do most of my work on the computer so that I don’t have to transcribe later. I am all for writing by hand every now and then though, it’s good exercise for the brain.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      True, it is a good work out for the brain and at least it means you’ve probably moved away from the computer for a few minutes. Thanks for the comment.

  5. joe ponepinto said,

    As a former journalist I learned to type out everything, and I still usually do that. But now that I’m writing fiction I find it sometimes works better to get away from the computer, and take a pen and pad someplace and meditate over a scene. I often get better results without the temptation to check e-mail or surf favorite web sites. Then if the handwriting session is good, I type it in almost immediately to make sure it’s saved.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      web surfing can be a terrible distraction. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Steve said,

    I hand write basic concepts and ideas, but when it comes to putting a scene down in draft form, I’m sold on typing it out. Like you, I type MUCH faster than I write by hand and its a better way of getting my thoughts written down before I lose them. If I were to try and write a manuscript by hand, I’m afraid I would lose half of it because my hand couldn’t keep up with my brain…… plus, I screw up WAY too much when I write everything by hand.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      That is a problem – when your brain thinks faster than you can get the thoughts down on paper. It happens sometimes when typing but less often. Thanks for visiting.

  7. AiméeG. said,

    I have a notebook so that I write down whatever inspiration that comes to my mind, or some names that I gave interesting strangers I see on the street (aka my potential characters :D), but when it comes to a draft, I always type. The reasons (other than the ones you’ve mentioned) are:
    1. I stay in a boarding school, so there’s lights-out time. I tend to write my stories at night, so I have to use my laptop.
    2. I often find my stories lack of something after I finish it, so typing makes it easier to come back and add in some more details.
    3. Most people don’t know my stories are written by me (I always use a pen name), so I want to keep it that way.
    4. It’s easier for publishing purpose.
    5. Nobody can read my handwriting.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Good reasons – thanks for sharing your comments. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gives random strangers character names.

  8. annashareen said,

    I don’t like looking at computer screens for a long time, and the Internet is a terrible distraction. So, I prefer to write by hand and type it up right when I get home. It’s slower, but I also like the feel of writing by hand. It’s also good when your laptop is too heavy to lug around to classes all day — I tend to write on the run. That said, I probably do type more than I handwrite, for efficiency’s sake. Writing everything by hand would just be an ideal for me.

  9. Barb said,

    I hand-write the very first draft, otherwise it doesn’t feel mine. Besides I don’t have a laptop, and notebooks can be carried everywhere! I hand-write letters and diary as well, so my handwriting is not too bad. But for fiction I immediately copy it in the PC, so I can start editing, cutting and pasting, spell-checking, etc. I can’t read on screen (I print out everything, even this blog entries… and read them off-line… sigh…), so I have to use methods both to save my eyes – but I know what the wrist-pain is! 🙂

  10. Carol J. Garvin said,

    I’ve had arthritis in my hands since I was a teenager so typing has always been physically easier than handwriting. Everything gets typed, even thank you notes. But I know that I express myself better in handwriting. There’s something visceral about putting the ink (or lead) directly onto the paper that is more creative than flinging words at a screen via the keyboard. But the comfort plus the speed of writing — keeping up with my thoughts — and the ease of editing make me compromise. I still print out my ms when I’m done and go through it by pen for the first revision because I can often find better ways of saying things that way. Then I make those revisions on the computer and carry on.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      This is interesting because I get wrist pain from using the mouse and have to use it left handed most of the time, a pain when there were cords involved but now that it’s wireless I just move it to the other side of the desk and keep going.

      • Sevvy said,

        I got wrist pains from typing and using the mouse too. I recommend you talk to a physician about it if it gets worse, because I waited way too long and suffered through it and ended up with a repetitive motion muscle problem. Now I wear a brace when I type to deal with it. Ah, the hazards of writing.

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