Jul 7, 2010

Writing Longhand by Steven Verrier

I don’t know how many writers like me are left – writing every first draft in longhand. Notebooks piled on my floor contain first drafts of recent efforts. I don’t know why I continue to write that way. It’s just the way I started years ago … and, well, you know what they say about old dogs.

But there may be more. Perhaps working with pen and paper just lends itself to the creative process in a way that tapping out words on a computer can’t. Maybe it’s because computers suggest speed and precision, while putting together the first draft of a story or book often rests on anything but speed and precision.

Or, again, maybe I’m just an old dog.

When you’re writing out a first draft in a notebook, you’re ready to work anytime, anywhere. On park benches, at the coffee shop, the library, on trains … there probably aren’t many places I haven’t worked on a first draft. One of my favorite places to open up a notebook and write a few pages when the opportunity presents itself is at work. A notebook is so inconspicuous – much more so than a laptop – and nobody has a clue what I’m jotting down when I open that notebook … well, until now, if they’re reading this.

The point here is that I’m ‘on call’ whenever I’m working on a first draft, and I like to have that notebook handy wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. Writing a first draft should be fun, unimpeded by too many concerns about getting it right. If getting through a first draft yields nothing more than a block of stone I can get serious about chiseling in the second, third, fourth, and fifth drafts, that’s good enough. And old-fashioned pens and notebooks seem to fit the bill just fine.



Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised in Canada, has spent much of his adult life living and traveling abroad. Publications include Plan B (Saga Books, 2010), Tough Love, Tender Heart (Saga Books, 2008), Raising a Child to be Bilingual and Bicultural (Hira-Tai Books of Japan), and several short dramatic works (Brooklyn Publishers, USA). Currently he is living with his wife, Motoko, and their five children in San Antonio, Texas.

You can visit his website at StevenVerrier.com


  1. He sure made a good point..not everywhere has Internet access. I used to write in longhand but since I started using the computer, I can't go back to the pen. Great blog post!

  2. I'm trying to get myself used to writing more on my laptop simply because I type a heck of a lot faster than I write, but I'm not sure if this is a good thing. I still always bring my 'story bible' notebook with me wherever I go so I can take advantage of any moments I have to write while I'm away from the laptop. I don't think I'll ever be able to give up the pen completely.

  3. I write longhand all the time. I often work on chapters of longer manuscripts while at the ice rink, so I bring along paper and pen.

    Good luck with your book. I look forward to reading it this month.