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I believe in something that I call The Law of Unintended Consequences.  It can be applied to anything.  Basically it boils down to this: if you change one thing it will change something else that you never considered to begin with, and that effect may or may not make things worse than they were before you started.

Making the change to writing longhand and then transcribing the next day (instead of just typing directly into the computer) has had several unintended consequences.

The first one is that my word count per day has decreased quite a bit.  On the computer, 1500-2000 word days were usual. Using a pen, my count has dropped to somewhere close to half that.  It isn’t necessarily harder to write with a pen. In some ways, it is easier, especially when it comes to making a change on the fly.  With a stroke the old word is ‘deleted’ and the correction is quickly written in above.  That is something I quite like.  The reduction in speed has more to do with the fact that I haven’t written longhand, in cursive, since high school. I have no stamina for it at all.  The unused muscle eventually atrophies.  The good news is that in the last week my word count has grown slowly but steadily.  I expect to be able to match my previous production in the near future, once I’ve rebuilt my writing muscles.

The second one is that typing is much more tedious now.  Instead of the thrill of putting new words and ideas into The Novel, I’m now merely copying what I’d written earlier in the day.  It’s data entry instead of creation, and that is not near as much fun.

Thirdly, and this is something I anticipated, is there is a minor editing step built into the process.  As I go over and attempt to decipher my horrible cursive, I have a chance to change words and phrasing.  This is a huge bonus.  While I expect to have to do major revision of The Novel if and when I finish it (the more I write, the further away the ending gets.  I am beginning to regret not outlining) the words that are making it the page are a step closer towards being ‘good’ and farther from being ‘bad.’ (The expectation I had for this was based on a writing tip from (I think) Hemingway I saw another website).

So I have a suggestion: if you haven’t tried writing ‘old school’ – longhand, with a pad and pen or pencil – try it.  Particularly if you are stuck or have trouble finding the ‘right’ word.  The few hours of ‘fermentation’ between the initial writing and the transcription just might do the trick.

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