Writing by hand.

As I write today’s blog post by hand I’m remembering something Greg Proops said once about getting ready for stand-up. If he writes material by hand he’ll be more likely to remember it when he gets on stage than if he types it. This makes sense to me. While I have no desire to commit my posts to memory, I understand that the physical contact affects the psychological connection. When one types, the feeling of pressing a key is universal across the keyboard. There is the slight variation that a typist knows to produce certain letters, but the actual physical contact remains the same. When writing with a pen the textile contact with the pen remains steady throughout writing. However, the hand also feels the flow of the ink on paper. By controlling the hand in the different motions it takes to create different symbols, one “feels” the different letters he or she creates. Over time a person not only feels individual letters but words as well. Through this physical contact the brain connects meaning to what the hand is writing. Sure, the brain thinks the works (and in turn, the message) in the first place which causes the hand to write in the first place. But the information is returned to the brain, creating a two-way street of information.

Typing and texting have their merits. There’s no way that I would have written the first draft of my new novel by hand. But as I go through the draft revising it I use red pen. I’m probably more likely to remember the changes I wanted to make–I tend to jot down incomplete notes, as bad as a habit as that may be. If I went through each draft with a computer, the drafting process would take longer. Plus, my brain would get worn out the further I go through. By making notes by hand I can process the information faster.

I had a conversation with somebody who mentioned something a writing teacher told him. When one writes something down, the flow of information bursts forth. This may be true when typing. Still, with the physical connection described above, I think I’m going to try what would be both a writing and mental exercises. If I have time in the morning, once I get up I’m going to just write. It won’t be a concentrated effort in terms of subject matter like this blog, nor will I try to make it anything long. A few lines will do. I will simply write down whatever comes to me at the time. It will be interesting to see where this takes me.

I’m writing the first draft of this post at a bar in Portsmouth. I know, I’m trying to save money. But the Stanley Cup Finals are on, the Bruins are playing, and I don’t have T.V. at home. Anyway, as I’m writing this a man sitting next to me commented on the fact that I write by hand and that heh two of us are a “rare breed.” It is sad in a way just how much handwriting is underused in favor typing. It’s not outdated. As I have shown, it has its strong points. Still, vinyl made a comeback. Maybe we can bring pens and notebooks back in style as well. Perhaps I should start a handwriting club around here. It would be kind of dorky, but maybe it could start something.


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