This isn’t another one of those ‘how to write’ posts, it’s a post about the actual physical nitty-gritty of how we go about putting our stories down into words.

Lots of writers now use the ubiquitous laptop – some have even found a way of writing on tablets, and others still, as recent discussions following the recent BEA Indie Author Fringe have shown, have been talking about how they use voice recognition software for dictating their stories.

Photo of handwriting in the gardenI should imagine that most writers have, at some point, had that dream of writing novels in some remote cabin.

Remember Captain Flint on his houseboat? Or Laurence Durrell in My Family & Other AnimalsThe writer at his typewriter, clattering keys against inky ribbon to give life to their stories – surely every writer has had that dream? The modern equivalent would be the laptop in the coffee shop.

High Technology Writing Tools I Tried and Rejected

When it comes to practicality though, I have always and still do, favour pen and paper. Specifically fountain pen and leather-wrap journal. It’s what works for me. Of course writing this way is not without

Of course writing this way is not without its downsides. Principally there’s the typing it up afterwards (‘though this too does have its own pros, but more of that later). So to counter the typing-it-after phase, I have experimented with other means:

  • Back in the day I tried an old typewriter but they are so much hard work! I don’t know how Captain Flint and Lawrence Durrell ever manage!

  • I tried typing straight onto word processor and/or desktop computer, but they were always expensive or cumbersome. Plus the ‘computer’ was always kept in a corner of my bedroom but I wanted to be writing in the lounge.
  • Then I got a laptop, and I fondly imagined carrying it about with me, and setting up in my favourite coffee shop or bookshop, surrounded by inspiration. The laptop was a desktop replacement though, and so heavy – and battery length is never what they make out on the box so you have to carry chargers with you – and it’s all so much effort.

This is all before you get to the actual creative process.

I can touch-type (the most valuable qualification I have!), but even so my fingers at the computer keyboard do not keep up with my creative mind in the way that the pen does between my fingers.

The Advantages of Writing with Pen and Paper

  • Accessibility: Take the pen and notebook and you can literally write anywhere, at any ime, and be putting down your story in as short as time as it takes to flick off the lid and turn to the next blank page.
  • Portability: The leather-wrap journal is the ultimate in portability.
  • Power: It never runs out of battery, or crashes.
  • Legibility: You don’t have to worry about the glare of sunlight on the screen.

I’ve been known to write (as those dreams would have it) for hours in my favourite coffee shop or library, or in snatched moments at the end of lunch breaks at work, or on the bus whilst commuting.

photo of author's hand writing in his notebook on the bus

Writing on my commute by bus

Fun Bonus Tip

Writing on a restaurant table

Writing by hand in a restaurant can get you better service!

There have been times when dining alone in a restaurant that I have got my notebook out to write, and after asking to keep a copy of the menu beside me too, received the most-fantastic and attentive service! Always a handy tip to know!

I wouldn’t be without my laptop, and I have even made use of tablets with Bluetooth-connected keyboards for editing purposes., but for that all important first draft it will always be the simplicity of a pen and paper for me.

But for that all-important first draft, it will always be the simplicity of a pen and paper for me.

OVER TO YOU What’s your take on writing by hand? Have you any top tips to add to the points I’ve made? I’d love to hear your views!