I don’t know if this post is going to make sense. I slept very little last night and I’m stifling a yawn about every other sentence, but I’ll try my best to write something coherent. This past week I’ve been busy. Busy managing social media (I still have trouble with the social aspect of it – talking to you all has been great, though), studying for the final exam of my fall semester, and attempting to get some writing in for my sanity. And of course, naturally, writing was the best aspect of the week.
My musings for this particular post, however, stem from the rediscovery of something that I find myself doing less and less: writing by hand.
I guess, if we’re being technical, I do write by hand on a regular basis. Notes for class, for instance, or my thesis outline, or story ideas that come to me when a computer isn’t readily available. I still carry a notebook around when I go into town or for a walk. In bars, in trains, sitting by the river. So, yes, I do try to write by hand when I’m not at home (as opposed to using my iPad).
But, still, the art of it – journals, stories, and letters – slowly started to disappear when I got my first just-for-me laptop in 2003 for my fourteenth birthday.
Suddenly I was able to correct and edit as I wrote; I liked that my fingers could keep up with the speed of my thoughts when I typed. My output content-wise shot up exponentially. So, in a lot of ways, there were great benefits to getting that computer.
But because of it, I lost touch with pen and paper – the beauty of sitting beneath my window and writing entire stories by hand. Not necessarily good stories, but at least they were completed ones. In some ways, I think writing by hand enabled me to write without feeling inadequate, without worrying about the mistakes. Without feeling the overpowering need to edit.
Since I’ve been committing my daytime hours to studies, mostly, I’ve found myself wanting to get off the computer at night. So for the past couple weeks, I’ve been testing a theory. Before bed, I’ve started working on one of my novels sitting on the backburner and writing what comes to me. Though I have done some previous planning for it, I don’t know most of what happens in the middle, so writing it is kind of like unwrapping a present. Most people who know me well will tell you that a.) I’m a perfectionist, and b.) I do not like surprises. But, in this particular case, I’m finding that I like the no pressure, hands-off attitude. I like that I’m taking my time. And, most importantly, I like that, once again, I’m writing a story by hand.
It’s amazing how easily the words actually come to me. How naturally. It’s amazing that, even though I already see mistakes and oddities, I’m not pulling my hair out and thinking, “Must fix now! Must fix now!”
I have vowed to write this entire novel by hand. I don’t know how long it will take or what the first draft will look like, but strangely enough, I don’t care.
I’m bent on rediscovering the simple joys that writing by hand can bring: the almost stream-of-conscious translation, the therapeutic thoughtless meandering from the sheer act of it, the ability to see my terrible handwriting scribbled all over the page. (Please see photo for proof of my squiggling)
Wonderful isn’t it? How the simplest things can be the most mentally freeing and make me the happiest with my work.
So, on that note, I challenge you to write by hand if you don’t already. Share your takes on it. Do you write by hand or computer? A mixture of both? Which do you prefer?