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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quill, Pen or Keyboard?

Each writer has her own preferences when it comes to putting words on the page. Some like the feel of a pen flowing across a sheet of paper as the wet words emerge. Others prefer the authoritative drumming of a typewriter or the demur click of a keyboard.

Some writers compose longhand and then pass the manuscript to a typist. Another type of writer switches modes as the manuscript develops. I am such a writer. When my ideas are unformed or tentative, I like to write longhand in 8” x 10” spiral notebooks with wide-ruled lines. Spiral notesbooks claim the virtues of being portable, durable and unpretentious.

I write on every other line, starting with the top line. Skipping lines gives me space for rewriting and editing. When I finish a draft in my notebook, I move to the keyboard, type the draft into the computer and print a copy. After marking up the printed copy, I rewrite on the computer screen, adding or deleting words, sentences and whole sections. I continue printing out versions, correcting them by hand, and fixing them in the computer until I can no longer improve (or bear to look at) the manuscript.

Unfortunately, I am not systematic about keeping the drafts as I go along. My intermediate drafts seldom survive, but that is not a problem. In the end, I may have only my first handwritten draft and my final draft. But that is enough.

DB Dewer

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