Are You A Horizontal Or Vertical Writer?


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!

ChK

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10 Responses to Are You A Horizontal Or Vertical Writer?

  1. Nice fountain pen! My grandfather had a nice collection of them that I still like to use, on occasion. My first novel was written in pencil & paper because I didn’t have a PC, yet, and my electric typewriter had the disturbing habit of sticking when I pressed the ‘e’ key. Since that is the most used letter, it was very frustrating to have it continuously typing eeeeeeeeee and I didn’t have the money or inclination to get it repaired. Once I purchased a word processor, I’ve never looked back. I might still jot notes down in the columns of my printed work, since I prefer to edit a hard copy. I tend to pick up mistakes better when I have the paper in hand, but now that my typing skills have greatly improved, I find it so much faster and easier on my hand. As I get older, writer’s cramp occurs more frequently. I do like Calligraphy, so when the mood strikes me, I will pick up a fountain pen and copy out passages using different techniques.

    • chichikir says:

      Thanks Susan. It’s hard for me to talk about fountain pens since my father was the one who started that passion in me. Sadly he passed away in October. Here’s my story that I have blogged about before.

  2. Jeyna says:

    I usually dont write on paper, cause my handwriting has gotten bad over the years. But, if i have a nice pen, i might just do so.

  3. electricbohemian says:

    It depends I like the computer because my hand writing is awful and because I can touch type it means I can go as fast as my thoughts are flowing, however on the over hand nothing beats a flowing pen with dark ink.. Recently I’ve become quite obsessive about pens as they have to flow and be the right width and have the right colour ink otherwise it drives me mad, I especially hate biro’s yuk!!

  4. marisaporter says:

    I have a dilemma: I love writing with pencil and notebook. However, I can’t write fast enough. So I get frustrated and run to my computer to type really really fast (I’m a fast typist). Then I go back to my notebook. Then I have to piece it all together. And I love the pieces I write. I have not found a solution. I write much more when I type then when I write it out by hand. And it’s not necessarily that what I write is better. It’s just this feeling I have. I don’t think there’s much logic to it.

  5. adelnehmeh says:

    I loved all the facts you shared about writers, facts that most people do not bother knowing. I hope you keep writing and inspiring us.
    138 votes means a lot …

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