No era has been more technologically advanced than the one we live in and yet to this day there are writers whose first drafts are never created with the use of digital aids. For me there’s something magical about using a fountain pen that makes the very act of writing possible. My muse comes with the smell and the flow of the ink on the blank paper. I am crazy, I know, but who among us is not passionate about something in one way or another?
Jill Mansell wrote out her novels in notepads with a fountain pen. Kazuo Ishiguro, John le Carre, Michael Ondaatje, Jeffrey Archer, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Simone De Beauvoir, and Norman Mailer, to name just a few, all wrote in longhand.
Hemingway preferred to create his first draft with a #2 pencil.
Vladimir Nabokov did his writing standing up, and all on index cards, sometimes even using more than 2000 cards for one novel.
While Truman Capote who wrote his first and second draft in longhand, in pencil, claimed to be a completely ‘horizontal’ author, lying down in bed or on a couch in order to write.
Judy Blume said:
“I think best with paper and pencil and make a million little notes to myself. I sometimes write on Kleenex boxes and then throw them away and get very upset. I try now to do all that scribbling in a notebook so I know where it is when I go back to it. Then I sit down at a typewriter and work in a very haphazard fashion.”
J.K. Rowling was quoted saying to Amazon.co.uk that she “likes writing by hand using black pen and ‘narrow feint’ writing paper.” At one time, in the middle of writing Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, she posted a comment on her site asking why it was so hard to find narrow ruled (‘feint’) paper to write on, because that’s all she used. Then within days she posted a thank you to everyone that had sent her paper. She said it was more paper than she could use in a lifetime.
The list is endless. However I would like to share a story that I find amusing, of a writer in the early days when the word-processor had just started to replace the typewriter.
Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Choirboys, bought the latest IBM machine of the day, complete with the printer, but had the company collect everything back after three weeks. He found sitting in front of the screen very intimidating. No sooner had he asked them to collect it than a lawyer from San Francisco telephoned to enquire why. He told Joe that no one in the history of IBM had ever asked to have their equipment returned, and he had one question: did he expect this word-processor to write the book for him? Joe thought for a moment and replied, “Well, maybe I did, I don’t know.”
Happy writing everyone!