At first, I wrote everything by hand out of necessity. When I was thirteen, we didn’t have smartphones or tablets. We didn’t even have palm pilots, the original handheld device. Laptops were rare—and no one was bringing them to school. The easiest way to write between classes or when I finished my schoolwork or at lunch was by writing in a notebook. I always had one or two notebooks devoted to my stories in my backpack.
It was easier to continue using my notebooks when I got home from school, too. My siblings and I shared a computer for writing school reports and playing games. Writing my stories was only a priority for me, so I couldn’t use the computer as much as I might have wanted to. I was happy to sit at the coffee table, pen in hand, scribbling away as the worlds and stories in my mind came to life.
To this day, I prefer writing my first drafts by hand. Seeing the story in my own handwriting enhances my personal connection with it. I know that it’s mine, flowing from my own imagination to the paper. Even most of my blog posts start out written longhand. And I have to admit that there’s a certain romance to writing that way. I feel a special thrill knowing that this is how Austen and Gaskell and Dickens wrote, too.
I have preferences, as far as pens and paper go. My favorite pens are plain, black Papermate pens, the kinds you can buy cheaply in a bag. I can’t afford anything fancy and, anyway, I like the way they feel in my hand. My purse has a small notebook inside for jotting notes and stories on-the-go. For the more official writing, regular school notebooks work just fine, but I prefer college-ruled over wide-ruled. When I do splurge and buy a fancy notebook, it’s for a special or important story.
I know that longhand writing isn’t for everyone, and that’s all right. For me, I can’t imagine enjoying the process any other way.