I don’t write by hand anymore

In which digital has replaced cursive.

Picture of a pen next to a calculator

It was going to be the year I did it, I was going to write that novel that was in me. It was going to be easy as I had a great story to tell and I wasn’t to bothered with the initial quality all I needed to do was write. By the end of 2014 I was technically (although by no means successfully) going to be a novelist.

I got as far as Chapter 1.

Trying to write something substantive, coherent to the point it had a point, proved more difficult than I expected. Something about it being on screen made it seem small, or maybe it was that the pages that got big. Writing on computer plays tricks on the mind because a three hundred word rant fits neatly on a few swipes of a tablet.

On paper less seems more, and it has been a long time since I lifted a nib for more than a few sentences.

I barely have need for pen or pencil at work, I am a big believer in the paperless office so try to manage as much as I can with the technology available to me. My To-do list is part text document part emails in a folder. Notes are made in a document or using an online tool. One thing I very rarely do is use a post-it or scrap of paper. I can’t even remember where the notepad I was given on my first day has gone.

I find it strange when I see pages of handwritten scrawl, I’ve spent the last week watching Mrs G mark the essays of her students and each one was required to write using black ink over a number of pages. The idea that I would now have to write more than three sides of A4 using a pen is enough to cramp up my hand.

I was part of the generation that started their education with fountain pens and was able to finish it with inkjet printers. I did homework using a Berol handwriter, a typewriter, dot matrix printers and Windows 3.something. I don’t feel romantic about using ink when my handwriting is looked down upon even by doctors. It looks like shorthand but is nothing more than an unintelligible scrawl.

Technology has allowed me to be more readable, if I posted a version of this post with my penmanship it would make even less sense. It lets me ctrl+f my notes to let me find what I need (and I find it much easier to tap away on some keys rather than connect my letters with cursive). Maybe this is also why I failed on my novel.

Novel writing seems to be about preparation, looking at the work of the greats they seem to have multiple notebooks with sketches and ideas. Every single one of them is done with pen or pencil, maybe I need to alt+f4 and find a pencil sharper and ink cartridge?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

5 thoughts on “I don’t write by hand anymore”

  1. “Novel writing seems to be about preparation…” I’ve had that same feeling. And not being a researcher is a mistake. I finished a Gothic mystery during NaNoWriMo in 2013 (87,000 words) and made the mistake of not researching my period well enough (1930-40). As a result, I gave one character a persona that wouldn’t have been talked about freely at that time. It was a big change that caused a domino affect for the manuscript. It’s now sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get back to editing it. So I hear ya.

    I did learn one important thing from a writer. Never try to edit from the computer screen. Print it out because it looks totally different on paper. That’s very true. And it works even better if you print it out in paperback book form. Weird how that works.


    1. My view on period pieces is that if the story is good, and the characters fully formed, and the dialogue works then accuracy be damned! Change the genre to alt-history gothic mystery and you can get away with it


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