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Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand

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).Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand

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?

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12 thoughts on “Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand

  1. Pingback: Rediscovering the Lost Art: Writing by Hand | Words and Wanderings

  2. It’s a compulsion now after years of doing it. Of course, every novel is different in terms of how it gets written, but I still mix keys and handwriting. The more important or difficult the scene, the more likely I’ll write it by hand.. 🙂

  3. Writing by hand enables me to think more about what lands into the paper. I guess, a quieter way of finding words and collecting thoughts. I type even personal journals, though, when the thoughts are quite overwhelming and when I think my hands are too slow for my thoughts. Writing by hand is something. 🙂

    • Thanks for the input! The fact that writing by hand requires more thought is a good point. Unlike with typing, where mistakes can be corrected with the simple press of the backspace, writing by hand, of course, makes it harder to go back and fix things, thus requiring that a writer think more carefully about what he/she is writing. 🙂

  4. I write everything (except blog posts) by hand, then type it up. From there I edit on the keyboard if I’m at it and on paper if I’m not. Never stop handwriting.

    • It’s wonderful to read that you so diligently continue the practice. It’s easy to fall out of the habit, but I hope to follow your example and go back to doing more handwriting.Thank you for commenting!

  5. I think it’s great that you handwrite! I agree, it is a lost art. And based on your photo, you have great handwriting. It’s legible-not chicken scratch-and it’s great how you go back and forth between cursive and print with certain letters. I do the same thing. Personally, I find that words flow out of me better when I am handwriting, but have lately found words easily flowing out of the clicking keyboard. It’s also easier when writing a paper for school and you can see the beautiful word counter. I like handwriting better because it shows personality, it’s easier to show edits, and provides a hardcopy of work. When I was in elementary school and computers weren’t as advanced as they are today, we were taught to handwrite and then type our work on the computer. I still do this, most of the time. Both have their pros and cons, but handwriting is better!

    • Hi! Thanks for commenting! Sorry I’m just now replying — I’ve been out of town with minimal internet access for the past week.

      I’m so glad to read that you write by hand as well. I used to handwrite first and then type for a lot of my work, but that has slowly sort of died away in my daily computer-based life. It is great to get back into it though.

      The personality of a person’s handwriting is probably the most interesting aspect. It’s probably possible to tell a lot about a person just on the basis of his/her style! And thank you for the handwriting compliment. 🙂 Cursive/print is fastest for me, I think. I’m out of practice writing only in cursive, so this sort of makes up for it.

      • Personality most definitely shines through handwriting! It is especially fun to be able to write outside of the margins, point arrows, and try to scrawl an extra sentence of a paragraph beneath the bottom lines as to not waste the space of a second page.

        I think I will try to reconnect with the lost treasure of letter writing. So much personality and attitude can be lost in typeface, even with the advantages of italics and bold lettering. It is always good for a person to say what he means and mean what he says. There are only so many ways that typing can allow that to come about properly. Technology and social media are not very good at helping, either, but that’s another conversation! In a nut shell, yes, handwriting is amazing.

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