If you have no trouble getting your writing practice from your notebook into a computer document,

If you sail along typing neat lines and it’s all beautiful and painless,

Then, you may want to skip to the end.

But if you struggle with transcribing or your current process leaves you flat and depleted,

I have a few strategies that have helped my students and hopefully can make the task less painful for you, and maybe even energizing. First, a confession: I have the worst, most horrible, nearly illegible handwriting in the world. Seriously. Worse than your doctor. Typing directly from my notebook is excruciating, which is why I had to find another way.

The process I came up with is simple, although it tends to slow things down. That’s a good thing. Slowing down creates a little space in your mind, which in turns opens up the work

I invite you to try this copy practice and see how it effects your final draft.

1) Buy yourself a separate notebook. It doesn’t have to be expensive. But if you’re like me and you’re sensitive to touch, get one that feels good to write in, something with heavier paper.

2) Get a pencil that feels good on the paper in the notebook, i.e. it doesn’t drag and squeak.

3) Copy your work by hand into the new notebook. Feel free to skip extraneous words, lines, paragraphs, entire pages if they down serve the work.

4) If one line doesn’t follow from another, i.e. your mind took a giant leap and it won’t make sense to a reader.


If you think you want to change the order, skip a line and keep copying. This will allow you to create and keep track of fragments and rearrange them when you do type them into your document.

5) You will probably find that as you are copying from one notebook into the other, as your hand starts moving across the page, you have more to say, adding and expanding from your original writing practice. This is a major benefit to copying by hand, letting the work breath and grow.

6) Limit your copy practice to a few work periods. Maybe copy for twenty minutes, take a short break, and go for another twenty. Gauge your own energy. Two or three copy periods at a time is terrific. But if you only have time for one period, then that is perfect. Do it and reward yourself.

7) When you are ready to type, open your document and take your time. You are free to shape as you go, as well let new writing emerge. If you try copy practice and it doesn’t work for you, by all means ditch it. If you discover another strategy that works better, please share and I’ll pass it along to everyone.

By the way, if you hate typing and you hate copying by hand, your can always use the microphone on your computer or phone and read your writing into Notes or even into a text you send yourself. Whatever works, do that.

Writing takes effort, but it doesn’t have to be labored. Keep finding strategies to lighten the load. Keep finding paths that open up the writing and energize you at the same time.

Be the Writer You Were Born to Be


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