Thursday, June 2, 2011

Longhand? What the Heck?!

I am revising. I LOVE revising!

Revising means the long slog of writing that dreaded first draft is over. This time my initial draft took almost seven months, small potatoes compared to my first book's 21 months. However, this time around I wrote over half the novel by hand.

What the heck? Why on earth would I torture myself? (I think I've developed carpal tunnel syndrome or early arthritis as a result, not to mention all the essays I graded at the same time. I'm a candidate for beatification--I plan to be the patron saint of writers.)

I started writing longhand when we went on vacation in March and didn't want to lose the momentum of the story. And then I discovered two things.


1. Writing the story and transferring it to Word allowed me to edit as I went.

2. I could write for hours at a time--no Internet distractions!


I moved scenes around, scrapped characters, and streamlined the plot along the way. You all know I'm a major outliner, but this novel is about the Byzantine Empire--not my specialty. I've been doing a ton of research, but some plot points came to light that forced some shuffling. But I didn't lose my groove because I was able to write and rearrange at the same time.

Genius!

Do I recommend this for everyone? Not unless you don't mind walking around with "The Claw" on your writing hand and carrying around a nerdy notebook with you at all times. (Mine had a nifty elephant on it). But it worked this time around!

And now I'm off to revise--woohoo!

Heads up! Kate Quinn, author of Mistress of Rome and Daughters of Rome will be joining me next Monday for a Q&A and a giveaway!

17 comments:

Court Ellyn said...

Congrats on going old-school. Hehe, though I've been writing (feels like non-stop) for 13 years, I only just started typing first drafts of stories. All those grueling first drafts of way-too-long epic novels, longhand, baby! ;) I have a gorgeous tell-tale callous on my middle finger from the pressure of my pencil (pump pencil, that is) I'm glad you've found that it works for you!

And a second congrats on getting through novel #2! Revising is the best part.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Court Ellyn- I think we have matching callouses! (That totally makes us sound like nerds). I don't know if I'll do that again, but I'm not opposed now that I know that it works.

Anita Saxena said...

This is exactly how I write! There is something restricting, for me at least, about drafting on the computer because I want the grammar, spelling, spacing, everything to be right. But when I draft by long hand, I don't worry about those things and can just focus on the story. Transferring the story to MS word is an ongoing process and the computer version stays one to three chapters behind the notebook version. And when I do type the story out it's like a second draft because I enhance and edit as I do.
It's good to know I'm not the only person who writes this way!

Jade said...

I often take notes longhand and I might write a scene or two, but that's it. You're a brave lady.

Good luck with the revising. I love the Byzantine, although I'm no expert.

Miranda Hardy said...

Congrats!! I write long hand as well. Then I'll transfer each scene/section to the pc. I find it the best way for me. It gets my ideas down quickly, and I catch a lot of errors along the way.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I still prefer to write my ms on the computer. However, if an idea hits (usually while I'm running or while in the shower) I write it on paper as soon as I can. Usually in both situation my hand is wet and the words get smeared, so I have to transfer them to Word ASAP. ;)

Vicki Tremper said...

I discovered, about a year and a half ago when we traveled far away to have Thanksgiving with family and I was working on a first draft, that writing longhand was a good way to keep the momentum going without looking like I was being rude to the family. I just explained that I needed to write a little bit each day, and sat with my notepad in the middle of everyone. Then I transferred it to the computer when we got home.

It works great for me in situations like that, but I wouldn't want to write an entire draft that way.

I hope your hand goes back to normal soon! Have fun revising! I just finished my revised draft and I'm psyched to take a break from it.

Mark Noce said...

Good for you! I'm pretty addicted to my laptop, but on vacations I unplug and write only with a pen. Power to you:)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Anita--It varied, but I stayed anywhere between 10-30 pages ahead of my Word draft. I'm glad I 'm not alone!

Jade--I don't know if I'd call it brave, but it worked. That's all I care about!

Miranda--Yay! Another long-hander--we should start a club!

Stina--Ha! I have a whole pile of sticky notes by my bed that I jot down. They're not wet, but they're hardly legible.

Vicki--You are a brave woman--there's no way my family would let me write. I can only write when the house is quiet. I get so much done in summer because my daughter goes to bed at nine and it's light out until midnight. 3 hours of uninterrupted writing=bliss!

Mark--I didn't think I'd continue writing longhand once we got back from vacation, but keeping that notebook handy gave me a lot more writing time.

Lydia K said...

By hand??? Wow! That is admirable. But if it works, that's awesome!

Renee Yancy said...

Stephanie, what's happening with your first novel? Are you submitting now?

The Las Vegas Writer said...

Revising is my favorite part of the writing process. I've never tried it longhand before though. I'm 100% technology oriented. I like to make comments in different colored bubbles and use the track changes for all my revisions. It adds color :)

L. T. Host said...

I admire you for even starting that, Stephanie! I've tried a couple times, but it just moves too slow for me. My brain goes faster than my hand can write, and I end up scribbling or writing so fast I make myself hurt, and it all falls apart, haha.

I am glad to hear that you are enjoying your revising though. YAY revising!

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes!! I only write poetry long hand (& haven't done that in ages!). Can't imagine doing so much of it! Hopefully your wrist recovers! :)

Steph Damore said...

Sometime I write longhand too, especially my detailed outline. Another tactic I like to use is to talk out my story--like a verbal outline--sometimes with dialogue and everything.I use the voice recorder on my phone and then transcribe later. It's super dorky, but works great.

Amalia T. said...

I did write a little bit of Helen's revision Long Hand, because my wrist was aching, and writing long hand seemed to not make it worse ha. BUT, I ended up cutting all of that stuff. I do edit as I'm typing stuff in, usually, unless I'm being lazy-- I generally fail to even look at what I wrote on paper as I'm adding it into the book.

My biggest problem with long hand is the amount of paper I waste in the process. I have been known to cross out a solid 1/3 to 1/2 of the page while writing long hand. I never realized how much I use the delete key while typing!!

S.L. Stevens said...

I always write longhand for the first draft. That means I'm in the process of writing a 300-page novel entirely with pen and paper, and I'm 1/6 of the way done. (Oh yeah!) When I do the first draft on the computer, I'm far too easily distracted by the internet, like a cat with a string.