I feel like a dinosaur. I'm still one of those that write my novels using a pen and paper. I've tried to type into the computer directly, but my internal editor kicks in, and I tend to censor myself almost immediately. I feel as if I have to make it perfect right away.
I know, I could probably train myself not to do that, but my process is working for me, so why change.
There are a number of advantages to writing this way, for instance I can write anywhere, literally, and I have. Waiting in the doctor's office, waiting for an oil change, on an airplane with the seat in front of me almost touching the tip of my nose, and I don't have to worry whether my battery is charged or not.
For me, it starts with the right pen. I have to use a fine point rollerball. The one that I use is the Pilot Dr. Grip. I have tried using other types and brands, but this one works so well I don't have to think about it.
I like the fact the way that the ink flows freely across the page, and the contrast level that the gel ink provides. I used to use a pencil, but I found that the contrast didn't always work in all kinds of light levels.
Next is the notebook. At first I used to use composition books because the paper is lined, they are cheap, and again very portable. However what I found is that they are hard to type from. They act like a book, in that they try to self close, so I had to always use a paperweight to keep them open.
I switched over to a spiral bound notebook so that I can lay it flat while I type in the text.
I write the text on the right side only. I just let the words flow out. I try to describe the scene that I see in my mind, from a setting point of view, and what the characters say to one another.
If I decide the scene is going the wrong way, I simply scribble out what I've written, or if I think I might want to bring it back later, I draw a line through it.
In between lines, I will add corrections, or more words, and to the right if there is enough room I may add more dialog, description, etc.
The left side is reserved for notes, points to emphasize later, other scenes, and anything that I may need to jog my memory later. I think this goes a long way to obviate my need for an outline.
Sometimes I may decide that I need a lot more text than there is room available on the right. For instance I may have to insert a part of a scene that I hadn't thought of before or embellish more details of what's already been written . In that case I draw lines where the extra text is supposed to go, and write it on the left side.
After I get the text written, I type it all in. For me this is the most difficult part. It's the part that I enjoy the least. I could probably hire someone to do this, but here's the deal, I do a lot of my first pass edits when I type it in. I don't just type in what I've written, I try to make sure that by the time I've typed it in, it is a pretty darn good first draft.
When I sit down to a writing session, I start by re-reading the last few pages so that I can get into the flow of the story. While going through I find and fix things, so that when I type it in, it's close to what I want, but still maybe not perfect yet.
After I get the entire manuscript typed in, I print out a copy, get out my red pen, and start editing. I make all the changes, and go through it a second time. Then, I put the manuscript on the shelf for at least three months. I will go through it a couple more times after that, and it's finally ready to build a query letter, and start the selling process.
So did I convince any of you to go back to writing with a pen and paper? Yeah, didn't think so.
But, how does my process compare to yours?