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True Story Blog

Do you write by hand or use the computer?

Around the time that I started writing picture books, my very active three-year-old son was constantly moving—running, bouncing, jumping, and, in our living room, flying from couch to couch. Therefore, we spent several hours a day at playgrounds.

My mommy purse carried essentials like snacks, hot wheels, crayons, and hand sanitizer, as well as small spiral notebooks. With eyes on kid and hands on pen and paper, I jotted down notes, thoughts, and sometimes even full sentences. At nap time (his, not mine) I went back to the notebooks and tried to make sense of my playground scrawls.

In the end, I wrote my first draft of NADIA: THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SIT STILL in one of these notebooks. It was a messy, bland skeleton of a manuscript. But the bones were there. And through a year of revision, I fleshed it out and that manuscript became my #firstpicturebook.

So let’s hear it for bouncing boys and jumping girls, mommy purses and spiral notebooks, messy drafts and #firstpicturebooks!

Here are few more #firstpicturebook authors who like to write by hand:

Jill Nogales:“Part of ZEBRA ON THE GO came to me in the middle of the night on a family camping trip. I didn’t want to wake up my kids, so I wrote it on a napkin with a crayon in the dark.”

Marie Lamba: “For this book, I wrote long-hand in a notebook that I always keep on my bedside. It may or may not have been written around 4 a.m. or so!”

Tracy Marchini:“If I’m stuck on something, I’ll write it out by hand. I always feel like I am a little more creative when I’m writing by hand first. There’s something about the feel of pen on paper, and it also gives me the opportunity to do a quick line edit as I enter it into the computer.”

Naseem Hrab: “Typically, when I start working on a story, I'll write by hand using a pencil or a really inky pen—something that lets me write really fast and loose. In these early stages, every idea matters, so I avoid using an eraser or crossing anything out. My notes start out so messy! As the narrative starts to reveal itself, my notes will get neater and neater and that’s a sign that things are cooking, so I move to my laptop.”
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