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JennaGlatzer
10-18-2006, 01:17 PM
On paper? On the computer?

I remember a time (college) when I could not IMAGINE writing a first draft on a computer. Computers made me feel like I needed to write formally. I would get all stilted just thinking about trying to write creatively using a keyboard. Now I can't imagine the opposite. It would feel like such a waste of time to handwrite things and have to type them in afterwards.

I try to write my drafts in Word in the (approximate) correct format for the final draft-- double-spaced in the right font and proper A-heds and B-heds and whatnot.

SpookyWriter
10-18-2006, 01:26 PM
I'm used a IBM Selectra II model to write some of my first short stories in college. I also have several binders filled with complete/uncompleted stories I wrote by hand. Not to mention a couple of hard disks in storage and what I have stashed on the internet repository.

For me, I began writing by hand and still do that with a few short stories. I will take some notes on paper and then use the computer to type them up.

I like paper for sketching stuff out while I'm in a safe place like the park or a cafe. It's cool to write a new idea for a story in a cafe and people have no idea what you're doing. I still have several stories from my life in Europe that I haven't even begun to transcribe to the computer yet.

Someday...

Tracy
10-18-2006, 01:36 PM
I always type in the first instance, I find hand-writing way too slow for my thought processes (plus my poor hand aches quickly!). I've given myself permission not to have to do it well - I'll even leave out complex punctuation such as inverted commas/quotes if the words are coming quickly enough and I'm in the flow (I'll go back and fix the punctuation later).

Thank God on bended knee for laptops! Now I can write anywhere!

Nakhlasmoke
10-18-2006, 01:38 PM
I write on the computer (Open Office, manuscript format).

When I do try write on paper, I end up getting terrible wrist cramp in my right hand. I've never held my pen properly so that's probably to blame. I also find I have a problem reading what I've written, because when I try to write fast (yay! Inspiration!) I tend to scrawl.

KTC
10-18-2006, 02:05 PM
I write my first drafts in Word. Double-spaced Times Roman 12. I do have a bi-weekly on-the-spot writing group where we sit around the table writing 10-minute prompt inspired on-the-spot pieces. Quite often I will have my WIP in mind when participating. Obviously I do these in a notebook. So, there are times when I write freefall in a notebook and add it to my Word file later. But the lion's share is done in front of the computer with good ole Word.

Forbidden Snowflake
10-18-2006, 02:08 PM
It depends. I tend to outline by hand and write down random notes by hand but then actually start writing on the computer. As I write faster and am more comfortable with a computer.

FergieC
10-18-2006, 02:34 PM
I hate writing by hand, and much prefer bashing words onto a keyboard.

However, I find that if I handwrite a draft of a chapter first, the writing is massively better than the bits that have been typed straight in. I think it's because essentially, it's a second draft. It’ll generally be the next day I’m typing it up too, so it’s had some time to settle.

I’ve noticed that sections written that way need very little work on the re-writes, whereas bits that were typed straight in were often sections that needed substantial re-writing.

wordmonkey
10-18-2006, 04:24 PM
Some of you may take issue with this, but I tend to write my first draft in my head. I'm blessed with a great memory.

By the time I'm ready to write, I've mulled the project/scene/chapter for so long that when I hit the keyboard, what I'm typing is really a second draft.

ChaosTitan
10-18-2006, 04:35 PM
The majority of my drafts are written on the computer (Microsoft Works, double-spaced, 12pt-Times). I type almost twice as fast as I can scribble down words with a pen, and my handwriting is amost illegible to anyone but myself. Sometimes even I have difficulty deciphering a word.

In college, I used to sit and write during boring lectures, so I'd have handwritten pages to transcribe in the evening. I will also write scenes on half sheets of paper, in little notebooks, on the backs of receipts or fliers, anything I can get my hands on when I have a few minutes and inspiration strikes. I wrote several chapters of one novel in this fashion, and have all the half sheets of paper tucked away in a file folder somewhere.

aadams73
10-18-2006, 04:37 PM
I used to do the first draft longhand, but eventually decided it was inefficient. Now I do the first draft on the computer and it goes much faster. My fingers can finally keep up with my(demented) brain.

DragonHeart
10-18-2006, 05:00 PM
I type mine, just can't keep up with my thoughts on paper. The only time I've ever handwritten anything substantial is when I got ideas in the middle of classes. I did bring a regular notebook to Florida on my vacation but I barely got anything done. I'm seriously considering just buying a laptop to make it easier.

~DragonHeart~

aka eraser
10-18-2006, 05:55 PM
I'm somewhat similar to wordmonkey in this area. I mull until I have my opening sentence and a general sense of where I want the piece to go. This can take 10 minutes or three days. Once I have it in my head I sit and write it in Wordperfect with the proper formatting. The next day I'll revisit it and tweak it here and there. The next day, I give it another once-over and if it passes muster, off it goes.

This applies to shorter, essay-type pieces of 800-1200 words.

DeadlyAccurate
10-18-2006, 06:04 PM
Usually pen and paper. I get distracted on the computer, so I try to minimize that by not being at my desk. I turn on music (alternative rock, usually,) lay back on the couch, and rest my writing table on my lap and just start writing. I transfer to the computer whenever I have a pile of pages. I tend to get into the zone easier when I'm writing that way, and the music distracts my inner editor enough that I can just get the words down.

MidnightMuse
10-18-2006, 06:16 PM
Computer exclusively for me. Back in the day (before PCs) I wrote longhand and it took forever ! Now I can't hold a pen longer than it takes to fill out a check, so it's all computer, all the time for me.

Soccer Mom
10-18-2006, 07:07 PM
I'm firmly in the camp of both. :D I write on my computer, but carry around my notebook and I'll scribble whole chapters or just bits wherever I am: soccer fields, doctor's office, waiting at the school to pick up my kids, in the choir loft at church during a boring sermon. Somehow, with my desktop, laptop, and trusty cheap notebooks, it all gets written.

Bubastes
10-18-2006, 07:14 PM
What Soccer Mom said. I've been experimenting with writing complete first drafts longhand and it's just not working (too darn slow, especially for my hamster-wheel brain!).

I hate being chained to my desktop computer, which is why I'm shopping for a laptop right now (I plan to sell the desktop). So, do I get permission to buy the laptop this weekend (just in time for NaNo)?

scarletpeaches
10-18-2006, 07:24 PM
I type on the laptop, simply because I can't write as fast as I think. And I type 60+ wpm!

If I'm going out and want to write while on the bus, in a waiting room, whatever, I make notes and sketch ideas for future projects, as a folder carrying my hard copy of what I've written so far would be too bulky, and I wouldn't want to risk making a continuity error while temporarily separated from my ickle wordbaby. :)

Vincent
10-18-2006, 07:29 PM
Usually on a portable typewriter lately, but sometimes with pen and paper, and sometimes on the PC.

icerose
10-18-2006, 07:47 PM
I do a combination. If I get stuck on the computer, I grab my notebook, when the words dry up, I type them up and then continue on. My writing speed is about the same although the typing is far more readable on than longhand especially when the ideas are cooking but I have never lost anything due to my inability to read what I just wrote. Also my writing comes out neater on the computer than in longhand for some reason, but really, I use both, whatever keeps the words flowing. And longhand is much less distracting than computers because pen and paper do not have internet.

My problem with longhand is I have three small kids who think they can color on anything and my youngest likes to shred things, so I have to be really careful about that, then after that finding a pen that has not been snatched is the second hardest task, because they are always taking mine to draw with because mine are the best and the cheap crappy ones just don't cut it. And my mechanical pencils always either get broken or the kids click break click break the lead.

victoriastrauss
10-18-2006, 09:09 PM
I wrote my first novel in longhand. For my second, I graduated to a manual typewriter (a major conceptual switch--writing with a pen is quite different from typing, and it took me a while to get used to it). About halfway through that novel, I bought an IBM Selectric clone--with a correcting ribbon! High tech! Yippee!

By my fourth novel, I'd acquired a computer. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my writing life. At last I could write as fast as I thought (I was fast on the typewriter, but much faster on the keyboard). Also, I'm a compulsive reviser, and my handwritten and typewritten drafts were nightmares of white-out, overwriting, additions scotch-taped on bits of paper or scribbled on the back--I'd often have to re-type whole sections just to get them reasonably legible again. And then there was having to type the whole thing over AGAIN for a clean copy to submit...With the computer, you always have a clean copy, and you can move, add, and delete without limit. For me, the computer opened up a whole new world of speed, flexibility, and order. I've never looked back. I never print anything out any more (with the exception of what I give to beta readers) until it's finished.

- Victoria

TeddyG
10-18-2006, 09:19 PM
That depends on what Jenna means by a "first draft"
I usually use a notebook (hard cover) for parts of the idea ... snippets here and there..and a quick move to the really rough first draft. Either Bic Pen or Pencil. no fancy writing utensils..nothing over the top.
Then I let it sit...(and sometimes totally forget about it)
When I feel the whole story in my head, I will start writing. Then again it depends if I want to sit and write longhand or go straight to the puter.
Once I move it to puter...there is no way I can go back to even writing a snippet in longhand for that story. Some kind of mental block I guess.

Editing...I must must must must (said that enough???) Print it out and read the pages and edit with a pen. I just dont see all the stuff on screen that I catch with hand editing.

scarletpeaches
10-18-2006, 09:20 PM
When I am composing a poem of great beauty, I prepare by swallowing a dictionary, getting drunk, becoming depressed which always helps, wait an hour or two, and then I proceed to vomit up the detritus of my tortured soul, all over my notebook. The sonnet emerges fully formed, though often burned by my stomach acid.

I thank you. :)

JennaGlatzer
10-18-2006, 09:33 PM
Okay, that does it. Scarletpeaches wins my Weirdo of the Week award.

ChunkyC
10-18-2006, 09:49 PM
:ROFL: @ scarlett

Way back when I wrote my very first story, I did it with a #2 pencil. This was the mid 1960s and I was about seven or eight, and it was about four or five sentences long, if memory serves.

Then I graduated to a portable manual typewriter which I carried around with me on the road when I was in a band in my twenties. Never wrote a lot, but did manage a few ideas and one short story.

I got into computers before I decided to get serious about writing, so when I got my job as a movie reviewer for the local paper, I just naturally started writing on the computer. Filing the column by email every week reinforced that. When I started writing fiction seriously, shortly after getting the newspaper gig, it too was done on the computer.

So to answer the initial question, I write all my first drafts (and subsequent ones, naturally) on the computer using OpenOffice in full manuscript format with headers, etc., and I plug in bookmarks to chapters and so on as I go so that when it comes to editing, I can easily jump from spot to spot within the manuscript (all my stories, including novels, are single files)

I do carry a small notebook for jotting down ideas, and a handheld tape recorder for when I'm driving and get an idea. I just grab it and yak away. I also keep notepads and pencils on my bedside table and in the bathroom in case I get an idea while asleep or on the throne. :tongue

Anything on paper or tape goes into the computer at the first opportunity.

jbal
10-18-2006, 09:50 PM
What's a typewriter?

ChunkyC
10-18-2006, 09:54 PM
What's a typewriter?
A printer with a keyboard built in. ;)


A kid at the office supply store where I work actually said that once a few years ago: "Look mom, a printer with a keyboard!" I'll never forget it.

AmyBA
10-18-2006, 09:55 PM
I write first drafts on the computer, but do keep a notepad and pen on hand when I'm away from home for idea-jotting.

When I'm working on assigned pieces, it's always Times New Roman, 12-pt. font, but when I'm writing the first draft of a fiction piece, I always choose a different font, something that matches the feel of the piece (and then I change the font to TNR before submitting it anywhere).

jbal
10-18-2006, 09:57 PM
A printer with a keyboard built in.

A kid at the office supply store where I work actually said that once a few years ago: "Look mom, a printer with a keyboard!" I'll never forget it.
A friend's young son asked me one time about a vinyl record I had (The Fat Boys):
"what's this, a giant cd?"
"Before cd's there were these things called records," I told him, "they're like cd's but they're big and black and round....sort of like the Fat Boys"
(((ouch)))

And so I don't derail this thread and incur Jenna's wrath, I write on a computer, MS Works.

arrowqueen
10-19-2006, 12:18 AM
My trusty old word processor, so I'm not tempted to come online and talk to you lot.

Maryn
10-19-2006, 12:28 AM
I don't write anything by hand except the grocery list. Before there were PCs, I wrote on the best typewriter I had access to. We got a PC fairly early, and although I was and am technically an idiot, I learned enough word processing to get by.

From research to final draft, I write on the computer. Timelines, facts I've established and have to be careful not to contradict, stray thoughts, the ending that I thought of early but will have to change by the time I get there, everything is done on the computer.

However, I like the idea of writing by hand with a decent pen, perhaps in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of wine at hand. Or in a coffee shop surrounded by interesting people. However, the reality is different.

Maryn, in an alternate universe

Kate Thornton
10-19-2006, 12:55 AM
I write on a computer - I had a stroke a while back and it took my left side. I was left-handed and lost the use of my hand so I cannot even sign my name. But I type **REALLY FAST** with my right hand now! (I have learned to use eating utensils, too. I may try a signature next. But try it - it's hard!)

Thomma Lyn
10-19-2006, 01:08 AM
I'm firmly in the camp of both. :D I write on my computer, but carry around my notebook and I'll scribble whole chapters or just bits wherever I am: soccer fields, doctor's office, waiting at the school to pick up my kids, in the choir loft at church during a boring sermon. Somehow, with my desktop, laptop, and trusty cheap notebooks, it all gets written.

You sound similar to me! :) I do most of my first-draft writing on my laptop computer, but I keep a little notebook in my purse for when I'm struck by inspiration while out and about, and I keep another notebook beside my bed for when inspiration strikes at o'dark thirty.

On my laptop computer, I use Word, double-spaced Courier 12.

Roger J Carlson
10-19-2006, 07:24 PM
I have always composed on a keyboard. When I was in high school, I composed on an electric typewriter that had a correction ribbon. I almost never revised and I always got A's on my papers, so they must not have been too bad.

Now I compose on a laptop, slouched in a big comfy chair. For some reason I can't write at my desktop computer. Oddly, I can also write at the restaurant with my laptop even though I'm sitting up straight at a table just like my desktop. This doesn't seem to bother me.

Now that it's so easy to revise, I find my first drafts are a lot more sloppy. When I used a typewriter and correcting was a big issue, I took a lot more care with my draft.

piscesgirl80
10-19-2006, 07:47 PM
Have to add my own bit to the record/typewriter digression. My brother had a friend come over to our house a few years ago, and the kid didn't know what our rotary phone was! :rolleyes:

Back to the thread at hand: It depends on the length of the project I'm working on. For fiction, non-fiction articles, etc. I use the computer, but for poems I'll often handwrite.

Freckles
10-19-2006, 10:24 PM
I'm with Jenna. In high school, I wrote everything out long-hand; the computer was a scary machine I wanted to use as little as possible. Then, I somehow became used to this thing, and now I can't imagine NOT writing my drafts in Word. It's a lifesaver, really. :)

K1P1
10-20-2006, 03:24 PM
I write my drafts at the computer, but this is partly because probably half of what I writie is "how to" that needs to be illustrated. I set things up so that my digital camera is on a tripod by my desk, cleverly placed so that I can leave it plugged into my USB hub to download pictures, facing a stiff white background, so I can pivot in my seat, do the photography, then turn back to the keyboard without having to rearrange anything.

Interestingly, I've found that location really matters. It's only at my desk that I can be disciplined and concentrate on moving forward with specific projects, even though my computer is a laptop. When I am away from my desk, that's the time to doodle ideas in a notebook. I find layovers in airports on the way home from business trips to be the best time for coming up with new ideas.

When I'm writing instructions for knitting a garment, I arm myself with notes on sizing, stitch counts, measurements, and I draft the pattern on the computer. Then I print out a copy and move to my knitting chair, which has a huge flat ottoman. I knit from the instructions I've written and make minor corrections on the paper copy. The laptop sits on the ottoman with my knitting supplies, so if I see that a major change or rewrite is needed, I can do it while it's fresh in my mind, incorporate my minor corrections, and then print a clean copy and move forward. When I'm traveling around trying to do this, a copy on paper goes into a 2-gallon zip lock back with the yarn and knitting needles so I don't lose anything.

A knitting writer's needs are a bit different, aren't they?

I can't stand writing double spaced on the computer - I just can't see enough of the text at a time. I write in Garamond 12pt single spaced, then select the whole thing when it's done and change it to double spaced and whatever font the editor wants.

BottomlessCup
10-20-2006, 09:08 PM
I'm firmly in the pen-and-paper camp.

Composing on a computer doesn't work for me. The ability to go back and fix things stalls me terribly.

Writing it longhand gives me the option to write anywhere anytime. And when I'm done, I have a "thing" - a fat notebook full of words - not just a file.

It can be tedious to type it for the rewrite, but I find that when I'm transferring it to the computer, I fix lots of stuff. It forces me to go over the script word-by-word. It's like a free draft.

scarletpeaches
10-20-2006, 09:34 PM
Okay, that does it. Scarletpeaches wins my Weirdo of the Week award.

An honour second only to my future Booker Prize win. :)

JDCrayne
10-21-2006, 08:22 AM
I compose directly on the computer (Open Office) unless one of the cats seems overly lonely, at which time I go sit with her and write in longhand in a spiral notebook. I never really have a first draft. Everytime I sit down to work, I reread about four previous pages, to remind myself where I am and what the mood is. I make any correction that look necessary in those pages and go on. When I'm "finished" with the entire mss I go back and re-read the whole thing and make ccorrections. At that point I have something like drafts one to forty. I let the book rest for about two weeks, and then go back through it for final changes.

Unique
10-21-2006, 06:13 PM
A printer with a keyboard built in. ;)


A kid at the office supply store where I work actually said that once a few years ago: "Look mom, a printer with a keyboard!" I'll never forget it.

:::: :ROFL: ::::: at CC

Pencil and paper if it's important. Computer first if I don't care.

Because: I can type as fast as I think and my writing ends up veering wildly from what I first intended to write. Like, 'Hey, this was supposed to be about XXY! How come it ended up about BBQ?'

Writing by hand keeps me focused on the topic instead of letting my mind wander down all the associations of the topic. The rabbit trails are myriad and I end up getting lost.

Writing by hand lets me craft what I want to say instead of splashing out a dozen randomly interconnected thoughts.

tiny
10-21-2006, 07:25 PM
I used to use a pocket pc. It was too cool. Little enough to fit in my bag, instant on and off by just opening or closing the lid. When I opened it back up it went back to where I was when I closed it. I loved it. But.... I bought a Mac laptop. So I don't use my little pocket pc anymore, though it's still sooooo cool.

Now I carry a crumby notebook with me everywhere and write on a laptop at home. :D

Shara
10-21-2006, 07:54 PM
I used to write longhand in high school, too. The backs of my school notebooks were always full of drafts of stories, or novels. Always in pencil. Always double-spaced. Then I would type them up on my typewriter, and amend as I went.

Of course, that was 20 years ago. Now I don't write anything in longhand if I can avoid it, because it's so much faster to type - I type 75 wpm and because I'm left-handed and my handwriting is awful, I can't read my own writing anyway.

So now first draft goes on the PC, and I can't remember how I managed before the PC. We have a laptop, which my husband hoped would encourage me to write while away from home, but ultimately I am a creature of habit and like to do all my writing in my own little writing space, at my own PC with all my personal effects around me.

The marked difference with 1st drafts going on the PC is that I produce more drafts now than I used to. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I like to think that multiple revisions make for better writing. But I don't know if that's true or not.

Shara

Freckles
10-21-2006, 08:59 PM
I used to use a pocket pc. It was too cool. Little enough to fit in my bag, instant on and off by just opening or closing the lid. When I opened it back up it went back to where I was when I closed it. I loved it. But.... I bought a Mac laptop. So I don't use my little pocket pc anymore, though it's still sooooo cool.

Now I carry a crumby notebook with me everywhere and write on a laptop at home. :D

Hi Tiny -- now I'm jealous! :) Whatever happened to the pocket pc?

Julie Worth
10-21-2006, 09:33 PM
I write everything on computers, even though they made a poor first impression. Back in my college days, all my school had was a sputnik era computer. I had to punch holes in cards with a keypunch machine to talk to it. A whole deck of cards, in Fortran. Then I walked through the rain to another building and handed the cards to a graduate student, who went behind the curtain where the number cruncher resided, which is what he called the computer. The thing made more crunching noise than I expected. The grad student was back there for a long time, cursing and banging things, then came back with my cards, all mashed up and bent. Sorry, he said, sometimes that happens.

Jeez, I though, I hate computers.

But not anymore. I love writing in Word, because I remember how it was.

Jenan Mac
10-21-2006, 10:16 PM
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one still using Works! Although I don't see anybody else using the "jot ideas on hand waiting at traffic lights and in line at the post office" method. ::sigh::

tiny
10-21-2006, 10:16 PM
Hi Tiny -- now I'm jealous! :) Whatever happened to the pocket pc?


I don't think they ever caught on. I still have it, plus I have another one that you can fold the screen over and write on it like a notebook. It's pretty cool too.

I bought mine refurbed for cheap. It only has a few programs and the keyboard is a tad smaller than a normal laptop keyboard, but I've little hands. :D

I carried it everywhere, but I'm a doodler and I love paper and pen so I went to carrying a notebook.

SeanDSchaffer
10-22-2006, 03:36 PM
On paper? On the computer?

I remember a time (college) when I could not IMAGINE writing a first draft on a computer. Computers made me feel like I needed to write formally. I would get all stilted just thinking about trying to write creatively using a keyboard. Now I can't imagine the opposite. It would feel like such a waste of time to handwrite things and have to type them in afterwards.

I try to write my drafts in Word in the (approximate) correct format for the final draft-- double-spaced in the right font and proper A-heds and B-heds and whatnot.


I always try to write my first drafts on a typewriter. I personally enjoy the sound of the bar elements striking the platen. That sparks my imagination like no computer keyboard can.

The thing is, I do not enjoy using electric or electronic typewriters. I much prefer manuals. There is just something about them that gives me great inspiration. Go figure; I guess I'm just old-fashioned.

In fact, I am thinking about doing what Jamesaritchie talks about in some of his posts, and writing my entire manuscript, from start to finish, on my old portable Royal. Like Mr. Ritchie, I much prefer the Underwoods, but unfortunately the one I had fell apart for lack of good repair. Someday I would like to find a full-sized Underwood again, so that I can really have some major fun with my work....although I would want it to be a post-war model. Features like Margin Release are a must for me where manual typewriters are concerned.

But I digress. I do my best work on a typewriter, on paper. If I am on a computer, I have a tendency not to work on my writing so much as on my editing. That is something that can kill a first draft like nothing else can, in what little experience I have.