I’m insatiably curious about how writers write — and accordingly loved this section of Tyler Cowen’s interview with Masha Gessen:
COWEN: What is your most unusual writing habit?
GESSEN: I write by hand.
COWEN: You write by hand?
GESSEN: I write by hand. I write longhand.
COWEN: And someone types it into a computer? Or that never happens?
GESSEN: [laughs] No, I write books longhand, and then I type them up chapter by chapter. I write a chapter out longhand and then type it.
COWEN: Why is that good for you?
GESSEN: Because I think that the process of writing longhand is more linear. If you ever look at how you write, or if I ever look at how I write, if I just write on a computer, unless it’s . . . A column is also pretty linear. I outline it, and then I just fill in every paragraph, and I do that on a computer.
But if I write a very long piece, I don’t notice how much I jump around when I’m writing on a computer. You can’t do that on paper. You have to keep going. Then it poses a narrative structure that is unbreakable. One sentence has to follow the previous sentence. You can’t go back and reinsert it. It keeps me very focused, I find.
The other thing it does is that when I’m typing it up, I’m reading it on paper, and I think that there’s a difference. When the book is ready, I will then print it out and edit it again on paper. But every time you read, when you’re reading on paper and you’re reading on screen, you’re seeing completely different things.
Interesting. Maybe I should go back to writing longhand.