Revising as i go

Started transcribing the notebook pages I’ve written in the last few days onto the computer this morning. I also added some stuff to my outline. If you would have told me I’d be writing longhand and using outlines a few books ago I would have said No Way.

But I really like writing this way, having deliberate steps in my process. Outlining gives me time and permission to dream up plot points. Writing in longhand feels less like work and more fun than typing at the computer. And then when I do get around to typing, I automatically revise and polish, so that the rough draft isn’t such a beast when I finish.

It will still be a mess, because sometimes I am in the mood to just type the day’s scene into the computer, which is fine. Doing it this way I’m at least smoothing out some of it, like choosing better words and popping in some layering and detail, things I didn’t know needed until I’d written the chapter.

It’s easier to do that kind of first pass revision now than when I have a whole manuscript to go through.

Still too soon to say if this book is going to come in “short” on pages like my others manuscripts always have, but I think I may have a solid draft by the end of the summer.


  1. Cindy,
    Funny thing: When I started freelancing for the local papers in the 1980s, I could only start a piece by writing longhand first. Then I would type my draft on my electric typewriter. (We’re talking about the good old days of White Out! and spools of correcting tape in the typewriter…) It was a ritual, I think. For years I just couldn’t start out typing a piece without that hand-written draft as my map.

    Once I learned how to use a computer, and realized how quickly you could “erase” mistakes, I began typing my drafts on a keyboard. That broke the longhand ritual.

    I sort of miss that process, and I believe Natalie Goldberg was onto something when she talked about the physical connect between the brain and writing longhand, in “Writing Down the Bones.” (I read somewhere that she hired a typist to transcribe all of her handwritten manuscripts.) I try, at least, to write cards and letters to friends with my beautiful Cross pen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.