How Do You Do It?

I started writing something today, longhand. I’ve heard a lot about the creative reasons to write longhand, and I think it’s probably the only way to avoid my repeatedly wandering off into the Intarwebs and not-writing.

So I started and so far so good. I have this whole plan for writing on loose-leaf paper so I’m not committed to writing in a certain order (which has totally stressed me out because of my particular brand of creative psychosis) and storing it in a folio.

Here’s the thing I want to know next, though, for anyone else who’s doing long-hand writing. At what point do you transcribe it? Do you just transcribe it or do you fix it as you transcribe?

My greatest challenge (so far) as a writer has been my tendency to edit as I write. I’ve only recently figured out how to write without doing that (you’re welcome for all the rambling posts!). I’m not sure how well I’ll do not censoring myself as a transcriber. And some of me wants to track all my edits online so I can undo them at some point, if I go too far.

Do you just type them, or do you scan them with some sort of OCR function and then fix errors (like Evernote or something?)



5 thoughts on “How Do You Do It?

  1. Gosh, I used to write long hand when I was a kid and all the way up until college. The callouses were awful, and then you have to go and transcribe the thing so that you don’t lose it, because ink and pencil eventually fade. Long hand is good for short stuff or brainstorming. Anything else, don’t do it! šŸ™‚

    • It’s definitely more of a hassle, but I’ve been hearing that writing longhand better connects you to the creative parts of your brain. Given that I struggle with invention, I’m going to try it this time and see if it gets me anywhere good. Aside from being wildly distracted, I tend to struggle with invention. I also have a tendency to try to write a “perfect” first draft, with the delusion that I will save rewriting. With writing longhand, I build in a definitive second draft.

  2. I do longhand regularly, because it is easier for me to not get distracted, or, also, a way to get writing done when I’m not anywhere near a computer. (Like lunch at work, or while getting an oil change, or whatnot.). I also tend to be more freeform and less harsh on it, which is sometimes easier to get into a writing flow than the computer. (Not always, but, if I start writing it as a conversation to myself, it starts things going and then I can get into it sideways.

    In transcribing I usually type it, more or less, as it was in the longhand, unless there’s something obvious to fix, mostly because just typing it as it was I turn off the internal editor for the mechanical-ness of the task of simply typing it. The really BIG problems are often more obvious when the writing part is taking the back of the stage to the typing. I often work in bits on some things in spiral notebooks with three ring holes, and I can take the partial bit out and move it to a three ring binder that has the project, and then I can also re-arrange the bits, like you mention above.

    I also tend to keep it longhand until I’m desperate for content, and I shuffle through the print stuff and transcribe from that, usually something only half finished which, leads to mea having tons of half-finished things i don’t quite know what to do with.

    • I was hoping you’d respond, because your comment about writing a-la *I Capture the Castle* was part of my inspiration to try this. I also listened to a Julia Cameron/Natalie Goldberg conversation on audio last spring that was pretty persuasive. I read something on Kobo today ( that helped to crystallize some of my thinking. I think I might do a weekly transcription time, so that I’m not transcribing something I just wrote, but since I’m trying to write something longer form than I’ve done, to date, I think the “pile” of untranscribed stuff might become its own barrier to momentum, if I leave it. The “tons of half-finished things” problem sounds like one I’d find daunting.

So what do you think?

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