Friday Finesse: Writing by Hand

Last weekend at the lunch after my Essence of the Essay class, one of the students asked me if I wrote mostly on the computer, or by hand.  I answered (a bit unpleasantly smugly, I realized later) that I wrote so much content that needed to be on the computer (blog, newsletter, classes, novel) that I’d trained myself to write mostly via keyboard.

But then I started thinking about how much I actually do write by hand.  So a better answer would be that I do both.  When I’m stuck on a scene in my WIP novel, I go directly to the page. I cannot figure stuff out while typing. It has to be by hand.  There’s something about the direct physical connection from brain to hand that opens up a flow in me.  I take a lot of “priming the pump” notes by hand.  And of course, I write in my journal by hand. (Years ago, I had a brief period of keeping a password-protected journal on the computer. It was terrible.)

And I recommend you write by hand, at least once in a while, too. Why? Because writing by hand directly onto the page is a different cognitive process than typing on a keyboard.  As such, it can open up different vistas into your creative work.

In an article in the Guardian a few years ago an expert explained that the process of handwriting is more complicated than typing: “Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought,” says Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva.

And as the article further points out, with the physical page, you can write in all kinds of ways. You can scribble notes in margins, write upside down, turn the paper sideways and write, doodle as you write.  This is a boon to your creativity and allows your brain to expand in many directions.  One more benefit–you have proof right in front of you of what you’ve done.  Yes, you can edit on the computer, but off go the corrections as soon as you’ve made them.

For a great infographic on some of these ideas, check out this page.

So I encourage you to foster some hand-writing habits, at least part of the time. (I’m certainly not advocating writing your novel draft entirely by hand—though some writers do just that.)  And let me know what new vistas it unlocks.

Meanwhile, if you are in need of unlocking new vistas, I’m running a Freedom and Independence Coaching special through the Fourth of July.    For three-month, paid in advance clients, I’m offering two free extra sessions.  That’s 14 sessions instead of 12. And for six-month, paid in advance clients, I’m adding on 4 sessions. Woot! That’s 28 sessions instead of 24.  Just think what you can get done in a few months of one-on-one coaching with me. You could get a huge start on your novel. Or finish the project that’s moldering in the drawer. Or start the process of getting an agent—or get your book self published.

Interested? Email me and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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I have friends who are old, which makes me somewhat an expert. I have noticed their handwriting deteriorates as the decades tick along. This led me to a theory that writing by hand will stimulate the brain through some magical connection between the fingertips and the gray matter up top. So there is a benefit in returning your handwriting to its youthful splendor. Use or lose it–not that losing neat handwriting is anyone’s major worry. My tombstone will not say: “I wish this were legible.” What I really wanted to speak of is a book I’m reading. I am like… Read more »

Whoops, I spoke too soon. The book is not very good. And, though it begins in Paris, it jumps around a bit. I’m not halfway yet, but I may abandon it. Peace, love. Turn the rock back over.