These days, it seems like most of the writing I do takes place on a computer – email, essays, memos at work, Facebook messages, even these posts, and the list goes on. It was a comfort to know – and I hope it will be for you too – that some of my favorite authors still write novels in longhand. Here’s a list of five famous authors who write longhand:
Five Famous Authors Who Write Longhand
Acclaimed author Andre Dubus III (Bluesman, House of Sand and Fog) is a big proponent of writing longhand. He started with a carpenter’s pencil, before graduating to the Blackwing. According to Dubus, “A friend of mine who’s a film director turned me on to the Blackwing 602. What I like is that it sharpens to a really fine point, and it’s got a great feel to it that I just can’t describe. It’s like when you taste a really good wine or a cognac: You know it’s good stuff.” Look for his latest novel, Dirty Love, in stores now.
Author and graphic artist Mechner believes that he’s most productive with a pencil in his hand, away from a computer screen. The trap of technology, according to Mechner, is that “It’s so easy to move words and sentences around in Word or Scrivener or Final Draft that it feels like writing, even if what I’m actually doing would rate only a 2 on the scale in which 10 is ‘getting an idea and writing it down.’” Sometimes, technology is more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to the creative process, and a pencil is just the cure.
Far from privileging technology, Nabokov did all of his writing by hand – on index cards! This gave him the opportunity to perform hands-on cut-and-paste work, rearranging scenes by moving cards around. He also preferred to work standing up. His method may be unorthodox, but when you consider the work he produced, it seems it was highly effective!
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, wrote almost entirely while lying down. He also enjoyed a cigarette and coffee while he worked. Capote wrote the first and second drafts of his novels entirely in pencil, then switched to a typewriter for the third drafts.
Joyce Carol Oates strays across topics and genres, but wherever she goes, she always brings a pencil with her. This incredibly prolific and talented author writes in longhand. One need only glance at her many publications and awards – including the National Book Award for her novel Them – to witness the success of her method.
If you’ve been inspired to pick up a pencil and scrawl the next great work of fiction, make sure to check out our awesome writing pencils!