Writing By Hand

I was rather bemused to see a large stationery chain advocating the benefits of writing by hand. With actual pens and paper. There was a mention of an Australian survey which confirmed that people who wrote in this way for 15-20 minutes a day reported various benefits including a greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction. My inner cynic wondered if this was just another way to sell more stationery.

But perhaps that is because I already do what is advocated by the survey. For years I have kept a brief diary with a line or two about each day. Looking back, I’m not sure what started it. I think it may have been a way to record subtle changes and events, and it has come in handy when I’ve wanted to see how I reacted to something months or years after the event. These record of the passing of days have been on Filofax diaries, and I have years of these scored with pens of varying colour, the pages heavy with the moments of a life. In recent months I have added three things I’m grateful for to the end of each day.

The twenty minutes of handwriting happens in my A5 journals. These are usually hard backed books with enough pages to capture three months or so worth of daily morning pages. These pages capture in more detail what is going on in my life and the world in general, along with snippets of news and updates on people I care about. Frustrations and victories are afforded equal billing, and I always feel better for having spent the time to write, even on days when I think there is absolutely nothing in my mind worth recording.

Occasionally I flick back through these pages, and I am usually rewarded with something to smile or laugh about, or reminded of something that seemed to dominate my life at a particular point. Until the next obsession came along. And there are snatches of dreams and story ideas which can be teased into something more substantial.  It has become a habit, and it is rare for me to miss a morning session. Occasionally I write at the end of the day, but I prefer to start the day with the rhythm and routine of the words on the page.

And I still write some creative work by hand. My notebooks are full of scratchings and thoughts, and as I write much slower than I type there is a different level of focus or energy about these writing sessions.

Do you write by hand?

[Photo: writing notebook scratchings]

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11 thoughts on “Writing By Hand

  1. Love the question… I was very recently free writing three pages daily as part of a course… the artists way. I stopped because 1. It was the only writing I was doing and 2. The course got more and more religious and i just could not go any further. But the writing itself was a terrific focus on my values, hopes and fears and i did feel more centred and connected… maybe i need to just free write for 15 minutes a day and get the benefits without losing all that time…

    • How interesting! The Artist’s Way got me started on writing daily, although like you the religious aspects of the course didn’t resonate with me. I have kept up the morning pages, even if there are days when I do wonder. But there is something that keeps pulling me back and it might be something as elemental as the movement of pen on paper. Writing it out has been the key to understanding events in my life, big and small. The act of writing these pages works for me, and it feeds into my creative writing in ways that aren’t always apparent. Thanks for sharing your experience too 😊

      • Wow! There was a lot to love about the course, and morning pages. I really expanded my ideas about what is possible and clarified what really matters to me. I reckon I will take it up again, but limit by time instead of pages and see how it goes for me. Thanks for reminding me ☺

  2. I enjoy both typing on the keyboard (because of it’s speed) and writing by hand. Handwriting is individual, and a mark of who we are. Sadly, I do think it’s going to be a lost art very soon. Even typing will be gone when we can just speak to our machines and have them type it for us.

  3. Your reference to writing down three things for which you are grateful each day prompted me to say that when I work with groups of writers I often make the suggestion that they record ‘five good things’ (by hand or by keyboard) every night. One time a student asked if he could also record ‘five bad things’. This seems to me to be a reasonable question, although it took the the discussion and the exercise into another realm of thought. (I do enjoy the different images you place on the banner of your posts.)

    • Hi Carmel, thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I like the idea of five good things, and how they can vary in size from tiny to substantial. I have drafted another post about these moments of gratitude as they really make a difference to my mindset.
      Thank you too for your comment on the images – it is a challenge and a joy to try and find a photo that echoes the content in some way, and it is a good way to share some of the many photos I have accumulated.
      And finally, thank you for your wonderful book, Dear Writer. I wrote a blog post about it back in January this year as it is one of a handful of books that I revisit and take something from each time.

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