Monday, November 16, 2015

Writing Longhand vs Keyboard

From Kate’s Writing Crate…


Somewhere long ago I heard someone say the physical act of continuous motion of your pen on paper connects your brain to your heart through your fingertips. You plug in your intuition. So, I write by hand every day. I doodle. I keep lists of ideas, which become a crazy haiku that I can sometimes decipher.

--Suzi Baum


For it would seem…that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fiber of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.

 --Virginia Woolf


Writing by hand is also like…"sculpting words with a pen".

I read that phrase recently, but couldn’t find it again so I don’t know who wrote it. Normally I underline phrases, sentences, or passages I like in books or copy them into my notebooks or common books, but this time I only remember reading it so I apologize for having no attribution, but the phrase is so true for me I had to include it.

Since I’ve studied graphology, I’m interested in handwriting. It does look artistic from many angles, but I know it’s a form of sculpture from the solid callous near the top joint of my middle finger  that formed over years of holding a pen firmly while I inscribed my words into paper. Yes, into paper. I write firmly enough to be able to feel the words on the back of pages when I’m scribbling fast and furiously.

I love to write longhand in my favorite 80-page notebooks with my favorite pens—I favor blue ink in the Bic Cristal 1.6mm pen. (Not a paid endorsement.) It’s inexpensive and fast-writing as my hand tries to keep up with my thoughts—the qualities of a useful pen as recommended by Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones (page 5). She prefers cheap Schaeffer fountain pens.

The point of being a writer is to write. Before I had any paid assignments, I followed Natalie Goldberg’s advice to fill a notebook a month using fast-writing pens. I wrote about anything and everything to get those pages filled. My ideas and feelings oozed out through my pen mixed with what I had read, heard, and learned along the way. Over time my writing style appeared and shaped my work. I wrote all the time. In short, it’s how I became a writer.

I did this for years while in school, before and after jobs I hated—sometimes during, too—until I started my first magazine staff writing job which I wouldn’t have landed without all the writing practice in notebooks. As I began to write more professionally, I still filled a notebook a month until my writing assignments took up the majority of my time.

Now I spend most of my professional writing time using a keyboard. Writing this way has its charms: easy to do, easy to read, easy to reorganize, easy to delete, and easy to email—which is I why I can work from home.

These are all the reasons I love writing using a keyboard and computer, but I will never give up filling notebooks with my thoughts, ideas, and quotes that appeal to me with attributions because I love the feel of a pen in my hand. I love how intuitive I feel when writing with a pen. I love filling pages with words leaving trails of ink in my unique style.

I also love looking at these notebooks years later. They are proof I have written as opposed to Word docs that were never printed out only emailed to editors to appear in magazine issues. Not only are these pages sculpted by the words I inscribed, but the filled notebooks are also haphazardly-piled colorful sculptures displayed on shelves around my home. I love knowing I’ve created art.


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