Geek With A Pen Not A Keyboard

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?


10 thoughts on “Geek With A Pen Not A Keyboard

  1. I write a lot of things with a pen, I do my outlines, my characters, but I’ll never write my stories with a pen, I won’t spend twice the time and won’t waste paper unless I have to.

    • That’s fair enough. I have plenty of notebooks though so I like to fill them up, otherwise they might go to waste! It’s nice even just to scribble down notes and ideas. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  2. I tend to scribble character arcs, story ideas, plot points etc. on paper with a pen but all my actual writing is done via computer. I get terrible RSI pain in my wrist if I spend too long writing the ‘old-fashioned’ way 🙂

  3. I used to write by hand, but I get insane cramps when I attempt to write as fast as my mind wants to go. My typing speed is just slightly slower than my mental voice, so it gives me time to do as-I-write-it wording changes and the like. Combine the two, and typing is where I go almost all the time.

    Now when it comes to outlining, mapping out ideas, and the like? Somehow I’ve never managed to beat hand-written.

    • Yeah it can be a strain so it’s probably better for your wrists if you type! And I agree about keeping up with your thoughts; sometimes I get myself in a muddle when I’m trying to write too quickly. The outlining and pre-writing jazz by hand though seems to be really popular. I wonder why we feel more comfortable with that?

      • For me it’s because I can change “the rules” of my pre-writing as I see fit. The level of flexibility a piece of paper has compared to the best planning software is no contest.

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