The Power of the (Hand) Written Word


A recent internet outage has prompted me to laugh in the face of adversity by doing my daily writing by hand. Oh the shock and horror! Now, being an avid personal journal writer, I am quite used to lengthy handwriting. However, in this internet age, some of us may have fallen out of the habit. Well I'm here to tell you to pick up your favorite writing instrument and write! Even if just for an hour or two, I suspect that at least some of you will find great pleasure in it. The hours will easily slip by before you've noticed (or you run out of ink or perhaps develop a severe cramp in your writing hand).

In the most surprising revelation, I found that the words were flowing almost effortlessly across the page. Was it a spark of inspiration? A spike of caffeine and sugar? Nope. I believe it was simply the familiar act of hand writing which allowed a direct connection between my brain functions and thought processes, and executing them as fast as my hand could write. Or maybe it's just the sheer lack of distractions; incoming emails, social network updates, impromptu research and countless other minutia which chip away at our attention spans while 'connected' to the internet.

With only a steaming cup of tea and an iPod on shuffle as my 'distractions', I have to admit I feel less encumbered by the sheer vastness of all that the internet provides when writing from a computer. Maybe this is why Stephen King writes on a word processor instead of a computer. There is something very freeing about hand writing, as if suddenly a new world opens up.

Which is curious because on the internet, new worlds essentially are opened up before our eyes. Ok, ok, so I do have my iPhone handy to check emails and what have you, which I won't lie, is comforting to know I'm still 'connected' without the confinement of being chained to a computer.

But I digress. This article is supposed to be touting the advantages and pleasures of handwriting.

That it somehow becomes a more personal act as well as a physical one. Typing is indeed a physical act also, but your hand isn't actually altering a tangible item like a piece of paper. Maybe it's just more romantic; the idea of writing away while sitting in a park under a tree, or cozily holed up in your home with fireplace blazing, a snoozing kitty at your feet and a steaming cup of cocoa (or beverage of your choice) by your side, all the while looking wistfully out the windows of your sprawling estate... Well, you get the idea.

Whatever the motivation, writing by hand can without argument bring you closer to your work--less detached than watching the words from across the screen of your computer. There is something deeply satisfying about looking down at your handiwork, knowing this is the result of your thoughts, man-made, not by machine. Even if it's just fleshing out ideas, outlines or sites to research at a later date.

Handwriting is without a doubt an art form, a craft to be honed like any other. Give it a try to see if it changes the flow of your words for the better, or at least gives you a different perspective on the effectiveness of your own methods of writing. But I challenge you, fellow writer, to not lose the gift of handwriting. Remember, it doesn't have to look pretty when it's for your eyes only.