I’m Writing My Next Book by Typewriter

Yes, really.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me convince you. The next book was supposed to be by hand. In fact, a lot of people have been asking, “Weren’t you writing your next book by hand?” because I’d made it clear that was my next plan.

Let me explain what happened:

I wanted to write one book by hand, and then another by typewriter to see which I liked best. Then I started my top secret super exciting new idea on the typewriter. I should have known better. It demanded that I let it stay there. And now . . . it just refuses to pack its bags and move over to the neighborhood of handwritten.

So I’m doing this all backwards. Typewriter first. *shrug* I don’t mind, and you probably don’t care. 😛 So let me introduce you to this beast from 1936. In the next several months, beast and I shall be bonding.

AmTypewriting 2



What is this madness?

Still don’t understand this bizzarre quest of mine? Still scratching your head? Well, let me go a bit deeper. Don thine scuba gear.

Our processing of story changes depending on our perspective. (Tweet this) Just think about different reading atmospheres — reading (or writing) a book will feel completely different if you’re on a cozy cafe couch with a chai latte, candles, and indie music than if you’re reading in the car on a road trip with your family, feeling queasy, and listening to nine hours of country music. Am I right or am I right? (Hint: I’m right.)

Our atmosphere, our body position, our reading material . . . each affect how we process a book. (Tweet this) Just take a look at the temperaments behind ebook versus paperback. Some people read only on their Kindle. Others refuse to use anything electronic. Others flit between the two.


It’s not just because we like holding something thicker than a tablet or thinner than a hardcover. It’s something about perspective.

For me, writing is the same way. Typing on the computer, I don’t fully think through scenes. It’s a good way to get a skeleton of a plot written up with some shallow characters. And computers let me see my word count. Writing by hand is different. Slower. Instead of looking straight ahead at the words on a screen, I’m looking down at paper. Handwriting. Scribbles. Writing on a typewriter is also slower, I can’t scribble out mistakes, and it makes me think more intentionally about scenes. It also transports me to a different era of writing. It makes me think of the greats, or the oddballs, or the other geniuses of the writing world.

Photo Credits:

Photo Credits: ben-hur.com

Lew Wallace wrote the entirety of Ben-Hur by hand while sitting outside under the same beech tree. Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a typewriter in the basement of a library in just nine days. 😯 (Nine days!) J. K. Rowling wrote the beginnings of Harry Potter on cafe napkins. These are all different perspectives. And I’ll be darned if I miss out on discovering this other world of writing just because I was raised in the 21st century. So I plan to try all of them. I’ve written the Out of Time Series on the computer, I’ll be writing some future books by hand, but right now . . . my current work-in-progress will be written on an old 1936 L C Smith & Corona typewriter.

How perspective changes things

Consider the different ways we think based simply on our head angle. When I can’t think of a word, I close my eyes and look up. When I’m daydreaming, I tend to look out the nearest window at an angle. When I’m focused I lean closer to the computer. Think about how photos of books near windows always seem to inspire us. Or how writing in coffee shops just feels more romantic than writing in a windowless basement office.

The art of writing isn’t just getting words on paper. It’s making those words come to life and come through your own life. Maybe this isn’t making sense. When I get excited or inspired about an idea, I tend to just ramble. 😛 However, I’ve managed to settle down enough to start a list of different ways I want to write a book:

  • By hand – I’ll do this with a fountain pen to prevent hand cramps. Trust me, you’ll get a blog post with more details when the time comes.
  • On a typewriter – currently stocked up on typewriter ribbon! Woot!
  • Outside (yes, even in winter) – I want to write an entire story outdoors, surrounded by living sounds, scents, seasons, etc.
  • While traveling – Train, car, plane, boat . . . the entire manuscript must be written while in movement.
  • In a different country – this one would obviously take a lot of planning. 😛 And would preferably take place in a castle in Europe. Duh.
  • By candlelight – It’s amazing how different lighting a room with candlelight feels.


Writing is an art.

What happened to the art of writing a book? I find myself losing that art as I try to meet deadlines or cram my head full of more ideas. I’m stepping into this adventure to help myself regain and explore that art. Authors create worlds, but it’s also our duty to explore our own. (Tweet this) That means exploring the details behind our callings and passions, studying them, discovering them. That is part of my calling in this profession.

This topic alone could be its own blog post. 😛

The plan

I’m documenting this adventure so you can expect updates on my social media (usually under the hashtag #amtypewriting) as well as follow-up posts to share my progress and experience. Oh, and cool typewriter photos because, um, it’s a typewriter. Typewriters demand a paparazzi following.

I’m writing only the first draft on the typewriter because I don’t think my publisher or agent would appreciate a giant string-tied stack of typo-ridden paper. Once the first draft is done, I’ll re-enter the world of computers and type up the thing for editing. Contrary to popular belief, my first drafts aren’t perfect. 😉

When am I starting this,  you ask? Um . . . I’ve already started! Mwahaha! I’ve started fairly recently and plan to bang out a giant chunk of story during Camp NaNoWrimo next month (in . . . three . . . days . . . O.o)

This isn’t a sudden whim. I’ve been chewing on this idea for over a year and planning how to do it, how to commit. This is for realz, peeps. Call me crazy but . . . *shrug* . . . I’m an author. Crazy is good. 😉



What do you think of writing in different formats? Crazy? Awesome? Confused? 

What other way do you think I should write a book? Help me brainstorm!

About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. I kind of thought I was the only one thought this way – not about the whole settings thing, cause I knew people did that, but the thing you use to actually write the story. Sometimes changing fonts gives me inspiration 😛 Or using a different computer. If I had a typewriter I would TOTALLY use that. It sounds so cool! And it looks so pretty….

  2. Eeeep!!! This is so cool! If I had a typewriter, I would totally do this. I feel like, for series, I have to be consistent – if I write the first book on the computer, than I need to write the rest on the computer, too. Mostly because, as you said, different methods change the feel for the writer, which can change the story itself. 😀 I used to write all my stories by hand in notebooks, but my latest was written on the computer. I’m starting the sequel for Camp Nano, which I’m super excited about. 😀

    • Yeah, I have to be consistent with a series, too. I wrote all of the Out of Time Series books on my computer and couldn’t bring myself to try something different, which is probably why I’m so excited about this new book idea and new writing style.

  3. I love this idea!!! I have written by free hand one time. I loved it… I feel sometimes, when I get lost in Scrivener- I get overwhelmed with the organization of it all. Writing free hand just allows the words to flow and not look back. I may do that for CampNaNo. I have a tendency to let my internal editor come on when I use a word processor.

    • I also feel overwhelmed when trying to use schrivner. It’s a great program, but for me, typing is the same as writing by free hand. I just let the words fly, I type super fast, and my mind just runs with it. Often, I do the whole pantser process for the VERY first draft (which isn’t even really a draft more as it is getting out the ideas in my head) then I sit down afterward and type out an outline based no that initial rambling. But because I can’t read my own horrible penmanship, typing for me is that same release of flow of words.

    • Thanks JJ!
      Yeah, I’ve tried Scrivener and the plotter side of me likes it, but the pantser side of me totally imprisons the plotter side every time. 😛

  4. Oh, I’ve definitely noticed the hdifferent feel to writing by hand v.s. typewriter v.s. computer, and reading in different places and with an actual book v.s. Kindle. I think they all have their place. Sometimes a Kindle is just more practical or convenient. (I’d have a really hard time beta-reading all these friends’ stories if I had to print them all out…) But sometimes I need the actual feel of smooth pages under my hand. And sometimes it depends on the book, to me. Some seem to need that hard copy feel, and some don’t.

    I do this with stuff I write sometimes, too. Sometimes I’m writing a long, important email to a friend and I just have to sit down with a pen and paper for the words to come out right.

    Someday, if I go back to writing books, I will do one completely by hand. My typewriter is kinda unpredictable (it’s electric and from the 80s and doesn’t look anywhere near as cool as yours…and where on earth do you find the ribbon?!), so I might not go that route, but I’m definitely excited to follow your journey! How do you figure out wordcount there? Do you just estimate? And what do you do with each page as you finish–put it in a folder?

    • I count up the exact word count of about five pages (yes, counting every single word. Ugh.) Then average those to get a guesstimate for each following page. I type up the second draft on computer which then shows me the accurate word count. 🙂
      I put the completed pages in a stack and then in a drawer. Hehe. So professional. 😛

  5. I personally cannot write out book ideas by hand and here’s why. My mind is like a speedracer, or maybe one of those twirly rides at the fair that makes me sick to my stomach. I have a lot of ideas and organizing them on paper is confusing. Plus my penmanship is atrocious. I have written out ideas and character sketches etc in notebooks and then I can barely read them. That’s not to say I can’t write on a birthday card or a note, its more that when I am writing down story ideas, I scrawlit out so fast and crazy that I can’t read it later. Yes, writing down on paper makes you take your time and think, but for me, I hate doing that because I feel like I lose ideas. I type really fast, partly because I started typing at 9 and because I think really fast and I want to get all my ideas out quickly so that I don’t lose them. Also, Backspace is my favorite key LOL. I personally hate crossing and scribbling things out. Maybe because I’m just not used to it. ‘shrugs’. I could probably write an outline out by hand if I had to, but not a whole draft. I’m already an impatient person so for me, it would be testing that limit for sure lol.

    But I would love to write in another country! I also would love to write on a train. That would be awesome. Amtrak has a writer’s residency program thing. Super neat. I love the idea of writing out doors too!! Listening to the sounds and sights of the world helps tremendously when writing.

    My favorite place to write is in a quiet room by myself with a huge window letting in all the sun. 99% of the time that’s NOT where I write but that would be my favorite choice 🙂

    • Yes, my brain also flies faster than my fingers, but if my fingers can’t keep up that often makes me think through the plot or story thread deeper instead of writing the first thing that pops into my mind (which is often a cliche.) But that’s how my brain works so I have to adapt. It seems like you’ve figured yours out. 🙂
      This is law.

  6. That is one very nice-looking beast, Nadine. xP Athelas has a typewriter, which was very useful in breaking my long-term writing slump. *squeals* This is going to be awesome. I look forward to your updates! 😀

  7. Little changes can make such a difference in writing. I moved my laptop from my tiny office nook to a stand-up desk (actually a basket turned upside down on my dining room table 😂) and the ideas are flowing again. Yeah! Best of luck and Godspeed as you pound out this new idea. Way to put the art back into the process!

  8. Ooh, that sounds so cool! I’d love to own a typewriter!

  9. What a neat idea! And your typewriter is beautiful, by the way. I have one, too, but it’s super hard to find ribbon for it, so I only use it every once in a while 😉 I have NO idea how old it is. I’m pretty sure it was a garage sale find, but it’s green!

    • I managed to find my ribbon on Amazon, which is awesome because I can use the typewriter ALL. THE. TIME. And garage sale finds are keepers, too. Green?! Favorite color! 😀

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