Earlier this year, I read that the famous actress and author Dawn French says that she always jots things down in pencil and describes herself as a Luddite who refuses to use a laptop. I am in very good company then, although I have to say that I can, and obviously do, use a laptop.
However, I don’t type out a new novel directly onto my computer. I too prefer to scribble down my thoughts on paper and worse still, I like to write out my chapters, cross them through, underline bits and scrawl unintelligibly in the margins until my work looks like a mad woman has attacked it with a red crayon. Only then can I begin to type up what I have written.
When I say type, I am still one of those people who looks at the keyboard at all times, glancing up only to try and remember what I am about to type and one who only uses four fingers to type. (I typed Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines using only two fingers.)
The reason I write everything out in pencil (I prefer pencil to biro – they have a habit of splodging when you don’t want them to) may come from the fact that I am just used to writing out in long-hand. I wrote reams of essays by hand when I was younger. Typing wasn’t an option. Also, there is a more simple reason, until I began writing Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines I didn’t know how to use Word. I have never taken a computer course. It took me weeks to teach myself how to use it. I didn’t dare put my precious novel onto a document I might lose. I preferred to carry around a huge notebook containing the novel, scribbles and all. There is something very satisfying about having a notebook containing your work, yet I must reluctantly agree that it has its downsides. For instance, how can you know how many words have you written? I write approximately 200 words a page but I wasn’t going to count every word in my notebook – I’d still be at it now.
When I started blogging I also had a notebook for my blog posts. Again, I wrote each one out and copied it into the computer when I was satisfied with it. I must have been a sucker for punishment. I had so many notebooks in the end that my drawers wouldn’t shut. I had to change.
It has taken a long time for me to adjust but now I type my articles and posts onto the computer rather than write them out. I am not yet a technophile though. I still have to carefully and painstakingly write all my novels into a notebook first. I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t. Some old habits just won’t die even though it takes so much time to write first, and then type up. I’d still rather make my errors on paper then type up a final copy I am happy with, rather than mess about staring at my script on a computer.
If you, like me, write everything by hand then I have a stark final warning for you. Be very careful where you leave your notebooks. If you click on the link “It must be love…” below, you will find out what happened to Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines just after I completed it. There is a clue in the picture above.
Written by Carol E Wyer, this article first appeared on Famous Five Plus website.