Why I Handwrote My Book Manuscript
So, I finally finished my second draft of my manuscript.
I know! I’m feelin’ pretty legit right now holding it! But, here’s the kicker: I hand wrote all of it.
Why on earth would you do that?
The honest answer: because I don’t have a printer and I wasn’t willing to pay 25 cents per page to print at the library.
My retrospective answer: because handwriting has been proven to increase cognitive development. To me, I feel like that’s because it makes us encourages the five things below.
It forces you to pay attention to your words.
Most of us were trained to skim our work and only attune to keywords that help us get a gist of the text. But, our handwriting may not always be as legible as the artificial block text; thus, the odd shapes catch our eyes, force us to process the shape, and forces us to pay attention just a little more than normal.
Why is that important?
It helps you notice and mark down errors.
Because you’re paying more attention to your words, you tend to notice more of your errors. Typically, more of the editing ones—spelling, punctuation, line breaks, format, etc. If you want to catch fluency issues to your writing, have someone else read it aloud to you. If your handwriting is legible enough, they’ll respond just like you and catch your errors. Not to mention, when something sounds off (awkward sentence, unrealistic dialogue, missing word…) it becomes very noticeable, very quickly.
While reading it aloud is not exclusive to handwritten, handwritten definitely means
It’s easier to revise.
See what I did there? Smooth as hell, if I say so myself.
Anyway, handwriting your manuscript really does make revision and reorganization easier. When it comes to revision, we do more than find small errors; it’s more when you get into voice, fluency, content, imagery, style, and everything that really only you can correct, though others can make suggestions. We also pay more attention to our writing and make sure we didn’t miss or duplicate a sentence (a common problem when copying your work), so we end up re-reading our work immediately preceding our progress and things stand out more to us. Then, it’s as simple as making a note in the margin or correcting it right there. And, when you correct it, the older version is still easily accessible so you can compare your work and make your final decision.
Speaking of final decisions, we always think we have our work figured out–until we review it. S when you handwrite the draft,
It’s easier to reorganize.
It’s almost inevitable that when you get past your first draft, you decide that you need to add, cut, and move things to make your story more fluent, engaging, etc. If you’ve ever tried to move a paragraph or page in a document on the computer (or even worse, on your touch screen device) you probably know the horror of accidentally cutting in between a word at the wrong spot, deleting the text, losing where you started and ended, etc. You can be smart and do separate documents to organize, but you gotta have the patience, attention span, and device processing speed to switch between all the documents. But, when it’s handwritten, just mark the text with a highlighter, label it, and mark in the new spot where you will move it. Or, if you have a list of the chapters, you can mark where you inserted your work. If it’s on a separate page, just physically move that page to the new spot, etc, etc. You got quicker options, basically.
With that kind of quick, physical movement,
It keeps you more focused because it’s more hands on.
About 15% of K-12 students are kinesthetic learners, meaning, moving around and doing things is most effective for helping them learn. You’re probably one of them, and find that if you do the activity, you’re more likely to retain the information. Yeah, typing is moving, and the cursor is going, too. But, that isn’t as much as writing, switching the page, marking things as your attention changes (especially if you change colors), moving the pages around, all of that activates more parts of your brain–kinesthetically and visually–so you tend to learn more about your work, as well. Not to mention,
You get to look back at the draft when you’re down and see how far you’ve come!
Nothing is more satisfying than being able to hold in your hand the book you wrote. No matter how thick the stack is, you feel so legit when you have that manuscript beneath your fingertips! You feel like those writers in the movies who type out the last period, pull the page from the typewriter roll, and place it with the rest of the stack that has been their obsessive passion.
Yeah, I did that.
And, I recommend you do the same. It takes more time, no doubt about it. But, I feel like by doing that, I really know my book inside and out at this point. Way more than I did when I did switching between separate pages.
I still prefer typing.
To each her own, my friend.
How do you do your drafts and polish up your manuscript?
Let us know in the comments below, and on social media, of course. Also, if you want more writer wisdom to help you through your manuscript, sign up for my newsletter to the right. Not to mention the free planning guides!