I remember reading Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Minds a few years ago and remember her advice to writers on the importance of writing by hand. While I can’t find her exact words, the essence (if memory serves me right), was that the voice that comes out when we write one word after the next, drawing the curves, stringing the letters, crossing the Ts and dotting the Is (or not) is different from the voice that comes out when we’re going tap-tap-tap on the keyboard. This same idea came up again in Lynda Barry’s beautiful book on writing “What It Is – Do You Wish You Could Write?” which combines Lynda’s advice on writing, her drawings, collages, and some of her life story in one of the most unique books of writing and living that I have come across. Why write by hand? Here’s what Lynda says:
There is a state of mind which is not accessible by thinking. It seems to require a participation with something. Something physical we move. Like a pen. Like a pencil. Something which is in motion. Ordinary motion like writing the alphabet. The ordinary everyday motion of a person with a pen writing the alphabet.
I have found that writing by hand slowly is faster than a computer-way. I know it’s not easy the way tapping a computer is easy. Tapping a computer is easy. Tapping a finger is not as complicated as making an original line in the shape of an S. Different parts of the brain are used when we make an S by hand and more of the body than a finger tap and images seem to come from this kind of being in motion.
So, I was thinking, may we can try, you and I, to write by hand this week, even if just once or twice? And see the voice, the writing, the movement, the red ink spill on paper? You don’t have to share them, maybe those words are for your eyes only. How does your voice change when you write by hand versus write on paper? Would love to hear about your experience. Enjoyed this post? Sign up to receive posts on creativity, writing, generosity, and living better.
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