Words Per Day Handwriting?

Words Per Day Handwriting?

50,200 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 8, 2007
Location: Vienna, VA
Posts: 29
Posted on:
Oct 14, 2007 - 19 51

I've always handwritten my stories and, knowing that Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Neal Stephenson have all handwritten their own novels, I see no reason not to do it for NaNoWriMo.

Still, 2000 words a day or so could be hard when handwriting. I have a brand new large lined Moleskine in my favorite leather cover with a fine Pelikan M-1000 fountain pen (a Lamy 2000 and a Pilot Vanishing Point wait in the wings in case the Pelikan melts).

What tips do Nanowrimo vets have for a first-time novel writer whose determined to hand write?

68,991 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 31, 2005
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 36
Posted on:
Oct 14, 2007 - 20 06

watch your posture, make sure you aren't curled up in a weird position, NaNo has some drawbacks but muscle spasms and aching hands shouldn't be a part of it.

I am considering handwriting my novel since my students are going to have to.....but I just don't know if I am brave enough.

I wrote 4 pages earlier to see how many words I average per page......but I don't know if it's going to be accurate for my word count since dialog takes up more room.


2,034 / 50,000
Joined: Nov 12, 2006
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 30
Posted on:
Oct 14, 2007 - 20 07

If you've never written that much before, start toughening up your hand and the tendons in your hand now, if you haven't already started!!!

I took a job that required over 2000 words a day of writing, M-F. After the first two days, anytime I tried to pick up a pen and write, my hand would cramp so bad I couldn't manipulate anything with that hand. It took me at least 2 weeks of constant writing before my hand wouldn't cramp any more.

Good luck!

SulwenGlowing Halo
50,023 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 1, 2006
Location: Ohio
Posts: 381
Posted on:
Oct 14, 2007 - 21 31

I write about 250 words per page, so I would need to write about seven pages a day to stay on track. When I handwrite, I don't ever bother to start new paragraphs for dialogue, so that keeps the count fairly consistent. I think this would be doable for me, though my hand usually starts to cramp pretty bad after about five pages. The point of this ramble: you can do it. But I'm awfully glad to be typing (for the most part) instead! :-)

75,201 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 9, 2006
Location: Old Orchard Beach & Biddeford, ME
Posts: 857
Posted on:
Oct 15, 2007 - 01 52

OMG! another fountain pen longhander!!! {{{{huggles!!!}}}}

Last year I did my NaNo in longhand and averaged 3,000 per day. However that was an average, and there were several days when I didn't meet 700. On 2 days last year I did over 7,000 words each of the two days and on one day when I had nothing to do all day long, I wrote over 10,000 words... it was my best day ever (not just for NaNo!) In the end, I wrote 183,000 words in 30 days.

uhm.... when people asked me last year how I did it... my answer: Over twenty long years of practice. I do this kind of thing every day anyways, so writing NaNo is nothing unusual for me, I'd be writting the 3,000 words a day even if I wasn't entering NaNo, so I might as well enter NaNo and have fun while I write!

Advice? well, I write while sitting on the ground in my garden, cross-legged (lotus postition I think they call it), with my loose leaf on my lap on a clip-boards and a totebag full of extra paper and lots of ink refills. I do about 90% of my writing outdoors in my garden, with one or more (or all) of my 9 cats and 2 dogs sitting on me.

yah for longhanders! WOO-HOO! YAH! Stephen King! Have you ever been to his house? OMG! You must stop by and see it sometime... it is just amazing! I love it! esp. the big cast iron fence with the bats and dragon statues! here's some pics I took of it last time I was there:

Also... you can add JKRowlings to your list of longhanders... she wrote all of the Harry Potter books out in pen and ink!

My NaNoWriMo Blog


2,019 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 15, 2007
Posts: 3
Posted on:
Oct 15, 2007 - 06 04

It's not impossible to write a novel longhand. [How did authors do it before typewriters?] I handwrite my journals, and though I don't know what my record is for the number of words written longhand, I can easily accomplish 1000 words (or more). It is easier if you break it up into several short sessions of a few hundred words per session, to prevent cramping if you're not used to writing this amount. I hope that is of some help, and I wish you the best of luck with your novel.

Lady LunasGlowing Halo
74,855 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 1, 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 175
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 12 58

I handwrite my NaNoNovels.

As with all writing, take breaks when you start to get a bit of pain or soreness. I have carpal tunnel (one of the reasons I handwrite), so I wear a soft brace to support my wrist. Do some stretches before, during, and after to keep your hand limber and to help prevent injury.

Make sure you have an ergonomic surface to write on. I use the kitchen table. Sit as ergonomically as you can.

Don't be afraid to take breaks if you've reached a stopping point. 15 minutes and get back to writing, for bathroom or a snack or various chores, if you have to.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you feel you must correct grammar or re-write a sentence, just cross the line out and keep going. And don't forget to count those words when you're tallying for word count for the day.

To tally word count- there are several ways you can do it. 1) Count the number of words for the first page and use that as a guesstimate for the rest of the day's pages. 2) My preferred method- the hard way. I go through and count every word I've written that day and write the final result at the bottom of the page where I stopped.

Are you planning on verification? If so, you don't have to transcribe everything you wrote to the computer. I use a website called Lorem Ipsum (http://www.lipsum.com/) to generate a document of nonsense, and upload that.

And most importantly, don't forget to have fun!

shoplustGlowing Halo
50,423 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 2, 2007
Posts: 42
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 13 58

Oooh cool, I won't be alone! I am going to change things up this year and handwrite mine as well. I've been debating on whether I should try it or if I should just stick with my computer, but having just found my favorite pen again after about three years, I'm going to put it to good use. I am oddly excited at the thought of having an entirely handwritten rough copy, but I'll probably still type it each day after I'm done just so I'll have a backup.

200,010 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 4, 2005
Location: Illinois
Posts: 713
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 14 28

Every year, I end up hand writing at least part of my NaNo. I can easily do 1000 words, but then I have to take a break or my fingers will start to hurt--a lot.

50,014 / 50,000
Joined: Nov 2, 2006
Location: Washington, Seattle, '06 Nano WINNERS!!!!!!
Posts: 16
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 15 28

I wrote my novel by hand last year *holds up large stack of paper as proof* and it's really not that bad. Just be sure that you count your words as you go. Try to write legibly, no matter how excited you are. And remember to count AS YOU GO ALONG, not all at once afterward. This makes it a WHOLE lot easier, especially if you underline every 100th word.

121,007 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 9, 2005
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 445
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 17 56

I wrote my novel by hand last year, as some others did. To find my wordcount, just in case you need to (though it doesn't sound like you do), I found it was really distracting to try and count as I wrote, so I went back and counted some pages - not all, but about 17 total (out of 154) and found the average. Once I got fairly consistent I stopped counting for the most part. Another thing you could do is type up some pages and find the average that way. Also, remember you have to have someone verify the wordcount for you if you're going to do it by hand, so be prepared to ask a friend to email the admins here...

Good luck - it was a really hard thing to do and I wouldn't recommend it, but it's your choice, and I hope you reach your goal!


4,134 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 4, 2005
Location: Calumet, MI
Posts: 14
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 18 40

So if you go the way of typing all of your words up, do you still need someone to verify your wordcount? I don't have a desk chair at the moment and tend to write better, at least starting out, by hand. Also, the job I'm attempting to get at the moment, may involve a lot of sitting and waiting, so I'll definitely be taking advantage of any downtime.

121,007 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 9, 2005
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 445
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 18 46

If you do type your words up, you don't need someone to verify it - as long as it's before the end of November! Otherwise, you'll still have to have a third party send a message saying you wrote what you're saying you did.

Good luck, everyone!

50,858 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Location: Springfield, MO
Posts: 27
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 19 39

I'm also going to attempt a handwritten novel this year, which is odd for me because my handwriting is atrocious and I've never handwritten anything over 20 pages before. What I've done so far to help me:

1. For the notebook I planned to use, I took one I had like it and wrote out a Jabber (random story of however many nonsensical words you wish) of half a page. For the front half of one page on college ruled paper, I had 277 words, an average of a little over 9 words a line. I did this to determine how big a notebook I needed to use to reach 50,000 without having to switch notebooks. For me it's 54,000 words (for good measure) divided by 9 words per line = 6,000 lines / 60 lines per page = 100 pages. So I'm opting for a 120-page spiral notebook over the 70. I also did it to help me figure out how much you need for count. For me, one full page = about 550 words, so 3 pages gets me close to 1,666 words, but I'll probably do 4 pages minimum for good measure, and more if I feel like a maniac. Which I usually do. :D

And finally, writing out a Jabber can be a nice creative exercise. Mine isn't appropriate to repeat here (I was coming off a caffeine buzz and felt devious) but it cracked me up and got my creative side loosened up.

2. I count words by line and write the totals along the right margin. It takes a little more time, but saves a bunch at the end, since all I have to do is add up the column and put the subtotal on the bottom right-hand corner of each page. Then, whenever I'm done, I just add up the subtotals and there's my count (with a slight margin of error, of course)

3. I wholeheartedly agree with the advice about limbering up on this thread. Don't go into November without having done a lot of handwriting to prepare for the strain of writing 3-4 (or whatever) pages daily. I've been keeping a daily journal in a notebook, instead of on the computer, and have already suffered cramps from how much I've put into it. At least those cramps are coming now, instead of in November.

4. Another point on ergonomics: I have a lap desk that I sometimes use to get a good angle on which to place the notebook so I don't have to lean on a desk, or against my thighs, to write. You can get them at pretty much any megastore--I know my Wal-Marts and Targets have them, but I got mine from an art supply store for $7. I plan to bring it to write-ins where I never know what height the table is going to be, or whether I'll even have a table to write on.

50,022 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 2, 2007
Location: Seattle, Washington
Posts: 68
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 20 02

I wish I could do my novel handwritten, there's just something so cool about it, but...I can't. My hands cramp up way too easily no matter what I do; I also have really bad circulation in my hands so they get all cold and tingly if I have them in the writing position for too long.

But that's awesome to everyone who is doing it, I really think that's great!


0 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 19, 2006
Location: < < > > ^ ^ v v I'm not telling.
Posts: 5
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 20 53

Power to you for doing so. Myself I don't think I'll be trying it all by hand again anytime soon, although I only see two problems with handwriting for NaNo:
1. Hand cramps (which are really bad for me, I get them every 100 or so words)
2. Counting the words is a long and tedious task, whereas with typing the computer does it for you when asked (I changed the wordcount hotkey on my comp so I can remember it).

I tried to handwrite last year, my hand actually got a new line on it for a few days. Probably because I hold writing utensils weird, but eh. This year I'm gonna do a mix of handwriting and typing (It would be all typing, but I don't have enough computer access to do that, so I'll probably be writing while onstage and in cars/buses.), probably adding in the handwritten stuff to my typed stuff on weekends.

A suggestion for counting handwritten: After each line, finish the sentence and then go count the words on the line. Write a small number next to the line, and upon finishing a paragraph add those numbers and write a larger number next to the paragraph. Tedious, but much more sure than trying to just rip through counting afterwords.

50,156 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 14, 2003
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 50
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 20 59

I don't have a laptop, and I like to write on my lunch breaks, so I always end up handwriting part of whatever I'm working on.

Handwriting your novels does have some positive points. For one, it helps me keep my internal editor at bay. It's much easier for me to hit the delete key than it is for me to strike a line through words I've written down. I think it's something to do with wanting to keep the page tidy and the effort involved in writing the words down vs. typing them.

Also, I've found that when I type up my handwritten stuff, I tend to add words. This is great because if you do type up your stuff everyday, you may get bonus words you didn't count on.

Good luck!

50,218 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 11, 2007
Location: Greater Vancouver, BC
Posts: 20
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 21 27

I write all my first drafts by hand. This is as much out of necessity as out of preference. I REALLY can't write in front of a computer screen. Even making this post is somewhat distressing. One night, in a burst of creative energy during last year's attempt, I wrote 4500 words in three hours. It was all I could do to lift a pen the next day :P But I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

Interesting to note: My power position for writing is lying on my bed. Not a word of a lie.


25,051 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 16, 2007
Location: between the cornfields of wonderful south dakota
Posts: 167
Posted on:
Oct 16, 2007 - 22 54

This is my first year, but I think I will hand write. I know I will do some of it handwritten in school anyways- lots of down time in classes I don't pay much attention in (better than doodling sweet nothings...) so I don't want to waste it when I get the feeling I will be cramped for getting it done (even more so knowing that in week on I will be gone for three days without access to computer or notebook... don't ask what torture I will be enduring...)

I write a lot in my journal and think I will be about ready for nanowrimo when it starts, but I can't be certian... Oddly enough... the cold hand comment- that happens to me when I type. I have to wear gloves when I plan on being on the computer for a long time... crazy, I know.

50,109 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 19, 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 98
Posted on:
Jul 22, 2008 - 15 02

I write fairly fast when writing in longhand. Maybe not so fast as the "professionals" do it, but fairly fast. Approx. 1000 words per 30 minutes, if I write continuously I can easily write 5-8K in one day in longhand. I wrote most of my fantasy novel "Empress of Mehjeno" (which ended up with a word count of 92K) longhand, and changed my style of writing almost completely. Now I write much faster than I used to, so I think I could make the WC for the day during NaNo if I wanted to. Maybe I should try it just for fun? =)


50,329 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 3, 2007
Location: sitting on my roof, looking out at the city.
Posts: 4697
Posted on:
Jul 22, 2008 - 15 59

YAY for fountain pens and Moleskines! I'm a big fan.

If you are going to handwrite all of it, be comfortable. i do it best lying on my stomach somewhere... And make sure your pen is balanced. Thats the best thing to it (i like a Shaeffer touchdown).

JodyGlowing Halo
51,016 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 26, 2003
Location: Iowa
Posts: 48
Posted on:
Jul 24, 2008 - 22 45

wow! i'm happy to see there are other hardy handwriting novelists here. I've handwriting all my nanonovels - last two years I actually made it to 50,000 words by the deadline date.

Things that help me is that I always make sure I have a smooth, hard surface to write on and I'm sitting in a steady, solid chair. Then I schedule two to three 30 minute writing sessions per day - at each writing session I set my egg timer on 10 minutes and then take a 5 to 10 minute rest break; set timer for second 10 minutes; take break; set timer for third 10 minutes.

This way I get at least 1200 - 1700 words in every day. If I try to do too much or increase the time to 15 minutes, my hand really cramps up and then I won't be writing at all for the rest of the day.

Good luck and happy writing!


50,329 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 3, 2007
Location: sitting on my roof, looking out at the city.
Posts: 4697
Posted on:
Jul 25, 2008 - 10 22

One other thing taht I"ve found what helps is to keep your hand, and your handwriting loose, but hopefully still readable. if I try to make mine smaller or tighter, it just kills my hand, while letting it glide with the pen over the table makes it a lot easier to writer for hours on hend, rather than just short sessions.

Lucky Seafan

17,300 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 5, 2007
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 166
Posted on:
Aug 2, 2008 - 08 44

I think I'll be writing by hand this November. I'm not very fond of typing and I find it a pain to sit at my desk and stare at the screen, or to lug my laptop around but have only two hours outside without an available outlet . I'm going to buck up and just count every word instead of typing just to get a reprieve on that front.

My tools: Pilot pen, ringbound notebook without lines (the lines may come in handy for estimating, but I don't know if I'll want to compromise) =p

Dennis Jernberg
50,572 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 10, 2006
Location: Near Seattle, WA, USA
Posts: 204
Posted on:
Aug 4, 2008 - 16 07

I write some of my scenes longhand using scratch paper and a cheap ballpoint pen. But I always transcribe it to the computer as soon as I can get to it. The reason is that I type fast but handwrite slowly. I handwrite whenever I have no access to a computer -- say, when I'm on the bus or in a coffee shop (I don't have a laptop). It doesn't take long to type in because, slow as I write, there's usually not much to transcribe (usually 3 pages at most) and I've already come up with the story I wrote longhand. Then I proceed to type in at least 2,000 more words, more slowly than my normal typing because I have to think up the story ideas and find the right words (sometimes my thoughts don't translate easily into words).

matt_fishwickGlowing Halo
65,395 / 50,000
Joined: Nov 5, 2007
Location: Wigan or Bromsgrove, UK
Posts: 487
Posted on:
Aug 16, 2008 - 05 55

I handwrote (actually still writing, or plan to) and the most I ever managed was about 3700 words in a day. It wasn't the hand that gave out, it was the imagination.

Lady Pendragon

0 / 50,000
Joined: Apr 24, 2008
Location: Good old US, but I wish it were Avalon.
Posts: 185
Posted on:
Aug 17, 2008 - 13 12

Handwriting sounds like a good option to me. I type quickly, but I write longhand even faster, and I average four pages a day anyway. Typing aggravates me. For an experiment, I've been trying to type 1667 words a day about once a week and I've never gotten there yet. Of course, that may be because I've trying to type them all in one sitting, but hey, who's perfect?

I'll probably longhand mine and type it up when I'm done for the day. My only problem is I have an insane habit of editing as I type...

FelicityGlowing Halo
50,966 / 50,000
Joined: Oct 31, 2002
Location: California, USA
Posts: 66
Posted on:
Sep 5, 2008 - 22 36

I always write by hand. I love the feel and the look of pen or pencil on paper. I love the portability of notebook and pen. I think better on paper than on the computer. I can usually manage to type the text out before November ends. I count while I'm writing by using the approximation method--averaging the number of words on a page after I've counted the words on my first three handwritten pages.

I love the idea of writing out of doors, in a park or a garden. I don't know how people do it, though. It seems powerfully uncomfortable to me to write cross-legged, as my back has no support and/or there's shadow on the page. It's similarly uncomfortable to sit with my back against a tree as shadow seems absolutely inevitable. And, the wrist ache from bad angles occurs with either sitting position. I envy people who can work outside, though!

50,250 / 50,000
Joined: Jun 4, 2007
Location: My own little world
Posts: 421
Posted on:
Sep 6, 2008 - 19 09

my advice. Write a practice 5 page story. Count the words per line. Figure the average, Count the lines per page, figure the average. Then when you write, figure your word count by the average word count you expect per page and then make sure to write an extra page or two for safety sake.

Do not waste time counting and tallying your words.

edit: oh and have four or five pens, write on a level. I can't tell you how annoying it is to have a pen stop writing in the middle of a good run. Just use the clips on them to attach them to the cover (front cover works best because that is where your already written stuf is. Just drop the one giving you trouble and snagg the next one.

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