Did I write that? Well, I certainly can’t read it!

Not so long ago, someone asked me an unusual question: Since I spent so many hours a week writing on the computer, did I not miss seeing my own handwriting?

“I write by hand all the time,” I replied. “The trick is being able to read back what I wrote.”

I do write by hand all the time. Every day. Some days pass that I do more writing by hand than on the computer. Every note, every thought, every nuance–big and small, every detail, and every time I need to figure something out (which, trust me, is on a continuous basis) I handle by writing on paper. The only thing I do on the computer is the actual writing of the novel, which for me, is a small fraction of the whole process.

I have notebooks, spiral bound books, loose leaf papers, index cards, multi-colored index cards, sticky notes of almost every colour found in the rainbow, and a giant roll of plain paper that I use to map out time frames that I stick to my wall as needed. To top that off, I have a variety of coloured pens, highlighters, and pencils.

Unfortunately for my family, I tend to work in the dining room. It has great lighting, good acoustics (for my blaring music), is kinda on its own so the through-traffic is not that bad, and looks onto the backyard (with a window bench were I can sit and ruminate–yes, I do a lot of that too). This just means that I’m the only one who gets to enjoy this room, as most of the time it’s taken up with all the said paperwork, plus much more, including reference books, cups of water, a multitude of mugs holding tea and coffee at various stages, a tissue box, and the occasional remnant of a snack.

Before anyone asks, no, I won’t take a picture. Maybe one day when it’s cleaned out.

I don’t miss seeing my handwriting. In fact, sometimes the sight of it drives me mad! Especially when I have no inkling as to what in the world my scribbling means.

How about you: Do you every write by hand? Or do you do all your thinking in your head or on the computer? And most importantly, if you do write by hand–can you read your own writing? 

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13 thoughts on “Did I write that? Well, I certainly can’t read it!

  1. Oh yes, I write by hand too but it is almost unreadable. I like to write by hand when I am on a plane or at the beach. When I’m at home I tend to do it all on the computer these days. I write my grocery list by hand and when I get to the store I have no idea what I need to buy.

    1. lol, Darlene. I do that too! Wayyy too often. But, I’m learning to make a list on an app that I take with me wherever my phone goes. The only downside is that I hate shopping with my phone in my hand, but at least I get what I need. 🙂

  2. My hand writing is terrible lol I sometimes have trouble deciphering what it was I wrote as well! I do like to write by hand sometimes though, it gives you a different type of flow to the story and I’ve found if I am having trouble with piece, getting out the pen and paper will often help me unblock.

    1. It helps me unblock as well, Cassie, but I’ve never gone in and manually written in my ms. I’ve only done the hard thinking on paper with pen. I think I’m too lazy to write my wip by hand–then I’d have to type it! Do all writers have terrible handwriting??? LOL.

  3. Ideas seem to flow when I write by hand. The computer, for me has a certain sterility that sometimes seems to dampen the creative process. I have pads, notes, etc everywhere. I write on the paper but I put it on the computer for edits and development. And, can I read it..only with a great degree of difficulty. My handwriting is really bad and gets worse when I am on to something….

    1. The faster we think, the faster we write, yes? Which is why so many brilliant ideas are illegible. Lol I like the computer, Marvin, because of the speed of typing keeps up more or less with my thoughts. And if not, it’s easy to go back and fix the gibberish prose that I ran through.

  4. Hi, Jennifer. I hope you don’t mind the late comment.

    At least as much of my writing is done by hand as by typing. Most of the time, my handwriting is legible. The biggest issues are when I start to move chunks around–stacking post-its on top of the page and using asterisks to mark diverged lines– and when I scribble quick notes on the side. The notes are usually in cursive and don’t always pertain to the scene on that page.

    My typed drafts are also messy, though. They’re easier to read but tend to be shallower. I’m more likely to skip lines of thinking and leave out details when type-drafting. For me, computers are for researching, for technical thinking. It’s hard to break away from that.

    1. I never mind a late comment, Ann!

      Interesting! Do you type in your draft when you’re finished or do you have a program that types it for you?

      My last critique group meeting was at a member’s home who writes his draft by hand. He had stacks and stacks of binders full of his draft. He uses a program that might be called Dragon, but I’m not certain, when he wants it typed out. He says he’s too slow at typing and this is his preffered method. His third novel now, so obviously it works for him!

      1. I usually type in handwritten draft. It’s time-consuming but allows me to edit while I go. Once, my sister typed up a couple hundred pages for me. I’ve felt so bad about the work she had to put into deciphering my notes that I’ve been working with the Microsoft speech-to-text program on my laptop. It doesn’t understand my accent and doesn’t seem to appreciate how much emotion I can put into my words, but we’ll learn to work together.

        I’ve avoided Dragon because I’ve heard too many writers complain about it. I feel that I have to fight with any software I use for writing. With the MS program, I feel that I might actually win one day. Maybe to even complete a novel.

        One of my biggest problems now is that I usually have a babbler nearby when the program is open. Oddly, speech-to-text programs don’t know what to do with baby talk.

      2. That’s so funny, Ann! 🙂

        I can only imagine that the program does with that beautiful baby babble.

        I read once somewhere that when you read out loud you’re not supposed to put any emotion behind it–that the words are supposed to do it all. I never understood how that’s supposed to be possible. Well, good luck with it. Acting classes to loose the accent? lol.

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