I’ve been writing by hand lately. The novelty of Word and tapping on the keyboard seems to have worn off. My notebooks are filled with random scribblings and story plots. (Some sort of order is definitely required.) I used to write by hand all the time and then type everything up. There’s something satisfying about capturing your thoughts on paper with a pen (preferably a slightly leaky one if you want to get really romantic about it).
But I was seduced by the immediacy and cleanliness of Microsoft Word (and other word processing softwares), the ability to delete mistakes and move whole paragraphs or even single sentences around. It was like magic.
However when you first start a draft of something, be it an article, a story, a poem, a novel even, it can be especially daunting staring at that blank white screen, your fingers hovering tentatively over the keys. Your mind has gone as blank as the page and you know you just have to write something, anything, but you feel like your hands have frozen into a horrible writers block rictus.
When this happens to me (which is quite often), I pick up my notebook. Finding an empty blank page in one of my notebooks is a challenge and anyway, it’s just scribbles so it doesn’t matter. Then the words flow. No pressure, no inhibitions, just words, beautiful hand-written, damn-I-can’t-read-my-own-writing words.
There’s also something therapeutic about it. I don’t care about word count when I’m writing by hand whereas on the laptop, I’m constantly checking the little counter in the bottom corner. “Is that all I’ve done? Is that enough for now?” I can fill pages and pages in my notebook and not care a jot about how many words it is. It could be 50 (I have some small notebooks) or 5000 (and some big ones) – it doesn’t matter because there are words on the pages.
Afterwards I feel more relaxed than if I’ve spent an hour at the keyboard. I saw something online about how writing by hand is good for you and I fully agree with that. I definitely feel different. I feel like a writer.
I was thinking about cool it would be if there was a zine or a literary journal that only accepted handwritten stories or poetry. There’s something much more personal about looking at other peoples writing in that way. I always like seeing original copies of letters and notes written by authors, and other people. They’re not always entirely legible but it doesn’t matter because of the flow of the ink across the page. It takes me somewhere warm and fuzzy.
Do other people still write by hand? Do you feel warm and fuzzy when you do?