Friday, February 20, 2009

Writing Before the Computer

Before computers and even before typewriters, how long did it take to complete a book?
As I finish off final drafts on two manuscripts I’m amazed by the writers of the past. With typewriter and whiteout or worse, with pen and ink, they drafted stories. How many rewrites did they write with cramped fingers in poor light and drafty rooms? But what amazes me most is that they wrote without an easy ability to rewrite. How did they do it?
Possibly the quality wasn’t as good.

Well, that theory is immediately pitched before the thought can even settle. Pull any classic off the shelf. I’m fairly sure that Tolstoy met today’s standards and then some and that Shakespeare’s work still holds its own plus, against any and all on the shelf. Many contemporary authors began with only a typewriter or pen. Read their earlier work and it compares well or better against current novels. So how did they do it?

Did they think long hours before putting that first word to paper? Did they have a rock solid outline that allowed for no error?

I’m sensing that neither was the case. That many wrote from their heart, like many writers today. But they loved what they did so much that it was never toil. A book just took a little longer than it does today. But when it was done, it was something special. For I’m sure of one thing. Writing without a word processor was more a labor of love than any of us today can ever imagine!


1 comment:

Teresa said...

There probably was a lot of double spacing going on and some pretty good thought processes before putting pen to paper or quill to paper, whichever it may have been. But I guess it's what you are used to at the time...where there is the will to write, there will be a way to do it!