Sunday, May 15, 2016

William Boyd on Longhand

in the Guardian William Boyd said in an interview:
I write my first draft of a novel in longhand. I have found the perfect pen that goes by the bizarre name of a Rotring Tikky Graphic with a 0.2mm nib. It suits my tiny, near-illegible handwriting and I always write in spiral-backed marginless A4 notebooks – I try to keep my fetishes to a minimum.

One great advantage of a longhand draft is that, in transferring it to the computer, every single word is written at least twice. Then the computer draft can be endlessly revised. Writing in longhand is important, I think – and not just because I’m a pre-computer novelist (I bought myself my first typewriter, an Olivetti, for my 21st birthday). In handwriting there is a vital head-hand-page connection that a keyboard and computer removes. When you write in longhand you’re unconsciously aware of aspects of your prose – such as sentence length, cadence, rhythm, repetition, prolixity – that I find keyboard writing doesn’t alert you to in the same way. Also you can see all the litter of the progress you’ve made that day – the scorings-out; the arrows; the insertions; the bubbles; the second, third, fourth choices. The page reflects the mental effort that the screen doesn’t. It’s a toiling, messy business writing a novel. I go to bed knackered and sleep well.
All this sounds very sensible to me! You need more than one draft for any kind of writing--or so it seems to me. And how you write your drafts seems highly subjective.

No comments: