How do you write your drafts?

May 27, 2014 | Better Writing

I started out writing short stories. I wrote them in longhand on a yellow legal tablet with a ballpoint pen. When I had the story right, I went down to the local library and typed my submission draft on one of the typewriters you could rent by the hour.

I wrote my first book on a typewriter that I owned. I used the proceeds from the book to buy an IBM Selectric that I used for years. Then I switched to word processing. I’ve never gone back.

The march of writing technology

That’s pretty much how writing technology has changed. But that doesn’t mean that the latest technology makes the best writing tool. There are great writers who write by hand and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The longhand brigade

Susan RoAne is probably the most successful writer I know personally. She’s written “seven significant books.” Her classic, How to Work a Room, has been in print for more than a quarter century and sold over a million copies. When I asked her if she still wrote in longhand, here’s what she said.

“Yes, I still write my books longhand. I’m in good company. (Amy Tan, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates & more).”

You’ve got lots of choices.

There are writers out there working in longhand and others using typewriters or word processors. Some dictate their first drafts. There are lots of choices

How should you write?

No one else can tell you the best way to write. The technique that creates fabulous results for another writer may not work for you. Experiment a little. When you find something that works, stay with it, even if you continue to experiment.


Michael Wade’s post, “The Beauty of Ink” sparked the thinking that resulted in this post.