As we prepare to slide into the next litLAB meeting, I’d like to put something in your heads: longhand drafting. Longhand is often regarded as the king of composition, but I’m a poet that pretty much grew up with computers – I’m at home both ways.
My personal take on longhand drafting
To get this ball rolling, let me describe my poetic drafting process. I generally begin with a word, phrase, or cadence knocking around my head. I’ll perversely delay writing it down at first and just consider it for a while.
Next, I’ll write it down, and build a poem around it. I don’t count it as drafting until I have what “looks like” a poem ready to go. Then I will do one of two things: I will keep drafting longhand, noting the draft number, or stick it in Googledocs.
Either way, this takes days or weeks, and forces me to work on discrete drafts, learning the strongest parts of the poem, eliminating the weaker ones (or recycling them for later work).
At this point, the real work is well under way. Once it is in googledocs, it will go through at least 3-4 drafts until I’m happy. I enjoy this because it’s simply easier to swap phrases and stanzas around, or even pop the damn thing into a table if I’m doing something with rhyme or form. I can visually seperate the lines on a screen in ways I can’t really get from paper. But paper does provide that sensory connection I crave.
Once it’s typed, I try to keep it in digital form, for good or ill, that’s how they will “interact” with the world the most. I only know I’m done when, like Our Oscar, I spend all morning taking out a comma, and all afternoon putting it back in.
Ok, now you chime in on drafting!
So enough of me, how about you all? How important is longhand drafting in your writing process? Does anyone still do it? Are there any benefits you get from this method that you can’t get from hopping right on the computer?
See y’all this weekend 😉