top of page

Handwriting a Manuscript

I handwrite all of my novels first. Without exception, I draw a title page and I write the end on the final page, usually accompanied by a question mark. Sometimes the pieces will spawn more than one notebook, and on one occasion three notebooks.

It may seem unconventional, but it is the only way that I can conquer first drafts. Even after everything is typed up, there’s no substitute for a physical copy. This way, I can visually alter anything with a swipe of my pen. I’d have it no other way.

Handwriting long form pieces is a long lost tradition, but potentially an invaluable tool for authors of all expertise. The clearest benefit is the medium; paper.

Paper is unlike a computer in a key way, the lack of internet. When I am handwriting, I have no way to be distracted by social media or lengthy research on topics that may or may not have to do with what I am actually working on. At the same time, the lack of screen puts less stress on grammar emphasis and instead it shift s that emphasis to the act of creating. On paper, there's no reason to solve mysteries of spelling or passive voice.

Handwriting also gives me a rare opportunity to become distracted by paper. If problems are to arise, I can doodle in the margins. By doing this, I can capture an idea in a sheet of paper faster than they can escape.

Portability is also a strong factor in my reasons for handwriting. Though a laptop and a large notebook have the same capacity for movement, it is easier to take a notebook to certain places. It is easier to take a notebook into a restaurant for example. It is easier to write by hand in the sun under a tree. Plus, there is the added benefit of not having to charge bound sheets of paper.

Though it seems archaic to write things by hand, it still has genuine place in society. Writing something by hand gives it a strong likelihood of staying in mind. If an idea is always fresh in a notebook, then it is easier to differentiate between ideas.

All together, the main reason I write by hand is drafts. By handwriting first, I have a draft that will turn into a second draft solely by transferring it to typed form. Every handwritten page is subject to change, because the story has already concluded. Since, I have already finished the story, I have an idea where it is lacking depth or needs additional explanation.

If none of these reasons are convincing, there is a final reason. At the end of the handwriting progress, I usually have this strong feeling of accomplishment. As an author, I use my hands to manipulate words, much like a painter uses his hands to manipulate paint or a sculptor manipulates clay. At the end of the process, the painter has a painting covered in her fingerprints. The sculptor even has a sculpture with his personal touch. In the end, both artists have something that is uniquely their own that they can be proud of. Handwriting gives me the same feeling. At the end, I have the language that I've twisted and molded to form a book in my own handwriting.

Follow A.M. Hounchell on Twitter: @inferno4dante

Visit A.M. Hounchell's website:

bottom of page