How much time do you spend writing by hand? For most authors, penmanship has become a thing of the past, as they rely more and more on their computers, even for writing. There is merit to both, but as handwriting slowly becomes obsolete, there are a few points to be made regarding its merit.
#1 - Writing, then typing, adds an organic editing opportunity.
As a tool within the writing process, penmanship is essential. Many renowned authors, including the late Toni Morrison, wrote their first drafts by hand. They would develop their ideas on paper, and write a rough version of the story, then transfer it to typed work. This provided them with a built-in extra editing step, as well as more time to develop their work.
Writing by hand is inherently slower than typing, but rather than this being a shortcoming, it is a strength. Those extra seconds between words and sentences will automatically be filled by thoughts, which can lead to new ideas to improve the work. In addition, in the physical act of transferring the work from paper to computer, there is a movement from the first draft to the second. When changing formats, there is editing and revision of the content. You are essentially reading the piece to yourself as you type, and you can ascertain whether the current wording or plot makes sense, and whether you need to add any changes.
#2 - The extra time it takes to write by hand allows for better content retention.
Writing by hand is also known for its heightened ability to retain the content better in a person’s mind. Such is the reason many people hand write their notes: They stand a better chance to remember the information later. While such a thing is not necessarily essential for authors, having more of a grasp of the individual details of their content is important, both in editing and for a better reading experience.
#3 - Writing by hand feels better as part of the creative process.
Many authors also speak of the way writing by hand makes them feel. There is something, writers agree, about writing by hand, that feels more private. Along with this feeling of privacy is freedom, since no one can judge you, you have more space to be creative and not restrict your ideas. Why not experiment when the stakes are lower? You just might stumble on a concept you’ve never tried before, expanding your talents and the scope of your story.
Adding a step to the writing process in the form of handwriting does not only allow for a more complete edit in the early stages of reviewing, it also gives a sense of completion to the author. Writing on a computer is more efficient, but it takes away from the feel of writing, of filling pages up with your ideas and worlds. After all, that is why we are so attracted to the idea of writing, of creating something out of nothing. There is not much that embodies that idea more than physically writing, to fill blank space with the spread of your imagination.
Handwriting may be slower, and result in less quantity by the time you are finished, but it will almost certainly improve the quality of what you are creating, By the time your work is in a typed form that others can consume, it has gone through several layers of thought and editing, allowing your work to be better in the long run. Handwriting gives you a feeling of control back over your work, when it is in a form that is singularly yours. Give it a chance! Who knows, writing your next novel by hand may be just what you need to take your writing to another level.