Aug 23, 2012 — 2 Comments

Pocket notebooks are perfect for capturing fleeting thoughts on the go. All you need is a pen or pencil. Notepads or 3×5 flash cards work great too. A laptop has a higher chance of getting stolen than a notebook. You’re practically safe unless the thief in question has a paper or notebook fetish. You can even work in your messiest handwriting to safe guard your work if it does get lost. Just the act of deciphering someone’s handwriting is a chore.

I always have a pocket notebook on hand whenever I leave for an extend trip or even to the grocery store. You never know when the ideas might appear. For me, this is the most practical solution I could have. A lifesaving tool for the budding writer or scholar.

So lately, I’ve been using ordinary writing for a number of things like:

Plain old journal — recording the daily observations and highlights. There could always be a golden nugget for a future project.

Reflections — Just pick a current topic that you’re passionate about and let go. Or copy author/diarist Anais Nin and prompt yourself with questions like: “What feels vivid, warm or near to you at the moment?”

Free writing— Sort of overlapping with reflections. Basically write and write without any care for grammar or spelling or topic.

Dream Diary — This one is hard to keep up if you’re not fast to jump to a nearby pen and paper. If time permits and I’m up to the task, I play the collaborate role by restructuring the entry into a treatment or short story format. This is what I refer to when I say I steal from my dreams.

I’m trying to keep the purpose of longhand writing on a practical level. In the end it’s all about the CONTENT not the frigging PROCESS. But my process is still in development. I haven’t found the perfect formula for a daily, productive, and consistent writing. So I’m going to continue with adopting and adapting new methods.

And what I haven’t tried yet is write a complete first draft of a script by hand. And that curious thought has now evolved into a personal challenge. I’m probably going to start with a short film script first before tackling a larger project like a feature.

Normally I write scripts on the computer. I love typing. I’m a touch typist and I have a better than average writing speed, but it depends if I’m thinking things through or typing a load of bull. I like the tactile feel of a good mechanical keyboard (I’m currently using a Filco Majestouch-2 tenkeyless with the brown switches) that gives off a delightful sound when I’m on a sprint of words.

Since we got software that automatically formats screenplays in a pinch, I sometimes skip the whole pre-writing and hop into the actual writing. Impulsive and instinctive writing have never been better.

Yet there are still obstacles. Especially with the first draft, I find myself distracted to shit. Yes, personal demons and self-doubts plague the average writer but there are times when procrastination is the greater foe… or basically known as “dicking around on the Internet.”  I’ll let you decide what I mean… HAR HAR HAR HAR.

There are pros and amateurs who live by the longhand way because they find it practical, less buggy, and a trusted method they don’t want to mess with.

Give the longhand way a chance when your brain is in knots. It might work wonders. If you already utilize it like a trusty sidearm, well… you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “DO I FEEL LUCKY?”

Well, do ya, punk?

Until next time… 

Chug-a chug-a choo choo.


2 responses to THE LONGHAND WAY


    I do occasionally still use longhand for notes. My main problem with it though is the organising. I’ve got loose flying papers everywhere plus notebooks that have a mix of thoughts, notes, scenes–it’s a nightmare. Therefore I’ve gradually been switching to digital note-taking. Less messy for me.


    My organization isn’t great. I’m also plagued by loose papers and unfinished notebooks. My digital skills are messy too but I admit it’s easier to find files.

    For longhand, I’ve been experimenting with using only one notebook for everything until I finish it. Then probably mark the spine for archive use before moving on to a fresh one. I’ve been looking into those “moleskine” hacks to try and take what I can use… like using a system that uses page numbers and quadrants to navigate through connecting notes. Or use a lot of sticky notes. In terms of writing a handwritten first draft… I think it would be better to fill up a notebook and knowing that it’s all there in one booklet. Writing on loose lined paper is when all hell breaks loose!

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