The Longhand Way

So it’s a new year and with that comes all the promises to do things differently or to try new things. I didn’t go too wild with resolutions this year. My promise was simply to be better at what I’m already doing. As one of the things I already do is writing, I decided to begin there. What; in that sometimes overwhelming task, could I be doing better? Writing more? No, I actually need to cut back and figure out a way to turn off all the ideas that won’t shut up-if only for a little while. That’s a blog post for another time however. This year I thought I’d zoom in on my writing routine instead of my writing output.

If you’ve been following my work for a while or have heard me speak at a book club meeting or conference, you know that I craft all my stories in longhand. I save typing for the end. This has been my process for over-wow…20 years. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder but it’s rare for me to toss out my outlines once the book has been published. The longhand process can take as much time as it does paper. I’ve been writing for a long time and I’ve gone through A LOT of paper.



Doing things better often requires making hard decisions. Changing my writing routine after so long would definitely be a hard decision. Would it be a better one? I’m still on the fence there. It would, of course, be better for the environment considering how many trees I and my colleagues have most likely written through.

Would this be better for my writing? Hmm…not so sure. I didn’t choose the longhand way because I’m so in love with my handwriting. There is something intimate, something therapeutic about this process. The benefits (for me) go far beyond creating a story. Is a promise to do better; by changing my story-writing process, worth the risk of losing that?

Writing is a craft that does more than allow me to create and share what I love. Since my first short story in 1994, I’ve benefited from the effects of the longhand way on my mental well-being. I’ve tried to find ways to replace my desire for longhand but nothing has taken root. I don’t worry that this transition won’t happen. I suppose that’s how each of us feels when weighing a decision to change-especially when the change is significant. We’ll get there. Changes may come slowly, but they will come. I wish each of you the best in keeping your promises.

Happy New Year,

From AlTonya.


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