Nowadays, you can produce the final draft of a book faster than ever.
Once upon a time, authors needed to write out their first draft by hand.
Even after the typewriter became a common home appliance, it still wasn’t as forgiving as today’s word processing programs.
So after scripting out thousands of words by hand, authors combed through them, marking changes as they went.
And then authors either wrote out a whole new draft or they wrote out entire sections by hand, incorporating the changes as they went.
And only then did they pound out the draft through a typewriter.
Today, first drafts appear directly onto the computer. Sure, many authors create outlines by hand using good old-fashioned notebooks. But for others, plot-outlining software and even mind-mapping software take the place of the traditional pen or pencil.
In the modern world, many authors struggle to know when to stop revising because a computer allows you to tweak your manuscript without end.
Yet are today’s endlessly tweaked books better than those books of yore that only got 2 or 3 drafts before being submitted?
And is something lost in the process when the handwriting-brain connection is no longer there?
I know that I can’t go back to my elementary school days of writing out novels by hand. Even when I create an outline or a journal entry, my hand get so tired. I certainly couldn’t produce hundreds of handwritten pages.
But still, I wonder if scribbling out a book by hand makes it a better book.
On the hand, it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to revise as much as you are tempted to do. Readers have always enjoyed books without endless tweaking.
At some point, you can free yourself to look at your screen and say what those older authors said while looking at the Courier script on their freshly typed page.
“Well, I invested heart and soul in this. I just hope it’s good enough.”
If you invested heart and soul in it, then it probably is “good enough.”
And sometimes, that “good enough” even turns out to be amazing.