I have a confession to make. I know this makes me a unique antique, but I am going to state it anyway: I write almost all my first drafts by hand. With a pen. On paper. In cursive. Horrifying, isn’t it?
It’s how I started writing. In junior high and high school, to relieve boredom, I wrote on any handy scrap of paper I had. No one had smart phones, or even dumb ones then. But as computers have become more and more personal until now they are practically a member of the family we take everywhere, I still can’t write directly from my head to a screen. Unless it is something very short, like “Monday Sparks”.
There’s something so demanding about a blank screen, just sitting, glaring, waiting, waiting, waiting for me to fill it. I can write for an hour and have only one decent sentence to show for it. I can see the screen arch a digital eyebrow as if to say, “Is that all?”
On paper, if I only come up with one sentence after an hour, I may have five sheets of rejected ideas to revealing how I spent my time. Also I can go back and try to salvage some of those ideas if I want to. All those filled sheets are very reassuring to me. And seeing my writing in my own hand makes it truly mine.
I have tried, on many occasions, to write directly to the screen. I don’t get far. Even if I’m editing an already-typed chapter and need to make a lengthy change, I have to go back to paper.
It just feels so unnatural to me to type my first draft, like sculpting with oven mitts or painting by using a remote-controlled robot. I must touch the pen, feel the paper under my hand to truly write.
I hope I haven’t shocked you. Does anyone else write before typing? Doesn’t anyone write in cursive? I’d love to hear your process from first-draft to finished product.