When I first started writing stories (back in elementary school, basically as soon as I learned how to read and spell), I of course wrote with pencil and paper. I kept up this method all the way through college, actually. I wrote my first drafts of stories and school papers on notebook paper with a pen (I graduated from a pencil sometime in high school, I think). Then when I typed it, I did some minor editing as I typed, and wound up with a second draft.
This method served me well for many years. Usually the changes and edits I made while typing were small, like a change in word choice, or cutting one line of dialogue. But still, it was a good exercise, and at the very least I wound up with a polished first draft, if not a full-blown second draft.
In my post-college years, I got away from that method – especially once I got a laptop with an up-to-date version of Word. First draft creation occurred with a keyboard, glowing screen, and red or green underlining if I made a spelling or grammatical mistake. After a while, I actually found it difficult to draft a new story with pen and paper.
A couple of years ago I started carrying a notebook everywhere, mostly for just jotting down ideas and notes as they came to me. I’ve written a few blog posts in that notebook, but that’s it when it comes to actual writing.
Then a few weeks ago I started working on a new short story, and I started writing it in my idea-and-blog notebook. I found myself scribbling away page after page, and re-experienced that simple joy of writing by hand. It’s slower than typing (for me, at least – I’m a pretty fast typist). I don’t have spell check or delete, so I have to scratch through things if I write the wrong word. I abbreviate a lot of words because it takes too long to write them out. It’s a little tedious.
But it’s freeing and fun. As I’ve been working on this current story, I’ve been tempted to type up what I’ve written so I can finish on the computer – but I’ve decided against it. I’m going to write this story the old-fashioned way, and then as I type it up I’ll already have a second draft in the works.
How do you write? Does anybody out there still use pen (or pencil) and paper for a first draft? Do you use Word, Scrivener, or some other program? Please share!