Essays

Never Say Never, or You Just Might Find Yourself Writing Longhand–Shiver!

Rarely will you hear me say I will never do something. Why? Because you never know when those words will come back to bite you in your plump, writer’s behind. What follows is just such an example. 

I haven’t written a story by hand in ages. Once I got my word processor (years ago!) and, later, my own computer followed by my laptop, I left the archaic days of paper and pen behind, and happily. Back then, I hated that my wrist got sore, and that weird callous on my middle finger was a source of pride (Yay! I’m a writer!), but also annoyance (Ugh, how to ruin a good-looking pair of hands!). Besides, it was slow. My mind would be three sentences ahead before my hand would catch up, which always resulted in chicken scratch even I couldn’t figure out when it came to revising or transcribing to the computer. Good riddance and no looking back!  Futurama Yes, the computer was a godsend. Quick, easy, and waste-free, it was a breeze to write and edit, and it required no transcribing—another thing I hated about writing longhand. 

But, well…you see, I’ve…um…(coughs)– I’ve gone back to longhand writing. There. I said it.

In an older post, I hinted at it, as I find writing poetry by hand helpful in getting me ‘unstuck’—maybe it’s the fact I’m creating in an environment different from the one I’m stuck in (bent over paper with a pen in hand versus hunched over a keyboard staring at a blank screen), or perhaps, as it has been suggested, that handwriting uses a different part of the brain than typing. Regardless, I have found it successful. For poetry. 

So, how is it that I’m finding myself writing a story by hand?  I’ve mentioned that I have tendonitis in my ‘mouse’ hand/elbow, and, lately, I’ve been bothered by back and neck problems on the other side. I write for work and then I go home and write for play. To deal with this, I decided to ease up on writing and focus on other things instead: reading, editing, beta reading etc, to still be in the writing head space while resting my body.

But I’m still driven to create.  So, here I am, back at the beginning, holding a pen in one hand and bracing a lined page with the other, just like I did in the first grade when I wrote my first story. And I have to say, I’m liking it. 😉 

From chronicle.com
From chronicle.com

Some thoughts:

  • I’ve discovered that the brain is pretty remarkable, and this exercise made me realize just how fast it can be. As I’m getting my words on paper, I’m conscious of just how many decisions I am making before the pen hits the page: Is this the right word? No? Okay, should I change it? To what? Or should I just keep going and correct it later? …How does this section relate to what’s coming? Do I even know what’s coming? No? Who cares? Stop thinking, don’t self-editing, just write, write, write, get it down and correct later. Write, write, write! Try it. It’s pretty amazing.
  • Going slow isn’t bad. I like to be productive. I don’t have a lot of spare time, so the fact that a computer lets me bang out a story quickly and in one shot is very satisfying. However, this process is changing the way I approach my writing sessions: being forced to write in short bursts before my hand wears out forces me to think first about what I want to get down on paper. And between sessions, I think about what should happen next, rather than typing whatever feels right at the moment because I’m on a roll or because I just want to have something finished by the end of the session. It’s a different way of writing for me, and though it’s hard to slow down, I find this process pretty neat.

Anyhoo, those are my thoughts on this. What do you think? Do you write by hand or were you like me, spurning it with every ounce in your body? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and I’d share a little of the story I am working on, but well, it’s on paper. 😉 Maybe next time!