#18 of our countdown brings us to something I (erica) have thought about since I started writing. Longhanding it vs. laptopping it (okay, desktopping it in my early days) (and when my beloved laptop is broken)

Longhanding it has tons of benefits. You have to concentrate - there are no tabs to open in a spiral. You get a much different sensory experience - the feel of the pen, the look of your own writing, the satisfaction of turning the page vs. bright lights and delete buttons and fancy fonts (oh my!). Also, of course, paper and pen can go wherever you go. Even space (er, bring a pencil if you're in space. And, um, me. Thanks.)

Laptopping (and, yes, desktopping) it has its own set of benefits. It's faster. It has instant editing. You don't have to go back later and type it in because, well, no one wants to read your handwritten pages. NO ONE. Plus, when your husband puts in a terrible movie, you can type on the laptop and pretend you're doing lesson plans, grades, etc. A notebook and pen will just make him suspicious.

Personally, I love longhanding it. It brings me in touch with my characters. It tells me where this story is going.

The first few chapters, sure. A difficult scene, absolutely. I love the complete attention it takes and the connection with my characters that it gives me. But I would/could never write an entire novel that way. I encounter too many dead ends/changes to make it worth my while.

How about you? Do you longhand? Would you try it? How do you connect?


  1. My hubby just bought me a laptop for Christmas (he had to tell me because I was about to buy one for myself) and I can't wait to use it for my writing. I've been longhanding it for the most part until now and I'm sure I'll still do it from time to time, but I am such brainstormer all the way through my work, I need to be able to get stuff down faster!

  2. definitely Longhander, my muse- whoever she is hates technology, she shuts down when she sees a laptop. She also likes weird ink so she refuses to work when i use blue or black ink. when i use green or red she will make an appearance and just soars when i break out the pink, purple, orange or aquamarine pen.

  3. I like a good lapdance...I mean laptop. But a longhand works well in a pinch

  4. Hi Erica,

    I personally do my research in longhand and my characters names, personalities, descriptions etc. I also longhand my ideas for future stories or a great scene that might come to me. And of course if I illustrate I do it the old fashioned way with pencil, ink, and paint. No computer art for me.

    I use the laptop for everything else.

    Interesting post.

  5. I love to write out things. I want that technology that you can write it down on paper and have it (it might be a pen I'm thinking of that does it?) transcribed into the computer. Best of both worlds! Maybe I just made that technology up...Ah well. Sounded good.

  6. I write my novel longhand first and I love it. I write each day then type it in the next. It gives me a chance to do a mini-edit when I type it in and writing longhand first allows me to write anywhere anytime.

  7. Wow, I can't believe longhand is winning out!

    Megan - that's how I got mine last year. Except I used it the entire month of December in secret. :)

    Joanna - interesting how those things work, huh?

    Mike - um, yeah. go with whatever works. (have you noticed how I only private message you stuff like this yet you continue to go public?) :)

    The other Michael - that's a good point, about the research and descriptions. I do that, too, along with family trees, connections between friends, backstory, etc. And your art is beautiful - I can only draw stick figures and weird looking animals.

    Colene - I know the dr. offices have it, so it must exist. The voice-activated ones are terrible, though (at least the ones I've seen) - when you reread it later, you don't even know what it was supposed to say, there's so many spelling errors.

    Heather - I like your idea of writing one day, typing the next. I'll definitely try that next time I'm "stuck" (which, history tells me, will be very soon).

  8. I do the majority of my writing in the bath, so it probably goes without saying, I am a pen and notebook gal. This STARTED because the bath was where I had some unbothered time... nobody is brazen enough to demand anything of me in the bath, so my family (mostly) leaves me in peace (though hubby knows I am a captive audience, so periodically he comes in to talk at me, but never mind)... When I tried for the first time to write something original at my laptop, it felt strangely clinical and detatched... having a Virgo moon, I had to know WHY! So I analyzed this... I journaled and wrote letters long-hand for YEARS. I didn't have a computer until graduate school and I use it for my work... I am a statistician and health researcher via computer. I think the brain paths are different. When I get to a keyboard, I am accessing NON-emotional stuff. And the books need to tap emotion.

    I've gotten better... I've done three WriMos now, and those aren't POSSIBLE long-hand (though two of them used both) but I think MOSTLY the daily blogging has allowed me to open those paths a little via computer. I am adapting. Still... if a scene needs a ton of emotion, I am going to be better off writing it long-hand. On paper, I've been known to sit there crying while I write. I've never managed that sitting at my computer.

  9. Oh, I can't do longhand. I have this joint pain thing going on in my fingers (and no, I'm not 80- just feel like it) so I can't grip a pen for long periods of time. So I have to laptop it- typing feels better than writing. Oh, and that voice thing- Kristin Chashore does it and she's had a couple blog posts on how accruate hers is, and all that. She's got a problem with her fingers too. I hope I don't have to resort to that- I HAVE to write my thoughts out. I can't speak them very well, you know?

  10. Hart - I could totally see the problems with switching from stats to creativity on a computer. Great point.

    Abby - I had carpal tunnel during both of my pregnancies and continue to have finger strength problems. And I'm probably older than you, but no - I'm definitely not 80, either! Kritin must have an expensive version. :)

  11. I also longhand it, but since my discovery of the fact that the rough draft is finished, I have to start rewrites.



  12. um. i missed commenting on this post. my hubby bought me a laptop last christmas. i think he regrets it! you all gave some great advantages to consider for long handing. maybe that will help me through this lovely "stuck" stage. so yeah, im a laptopper. christy


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