Friday, September 12, 2014

The Lost Art Of Handwriting

I read an interesting article today about the benefits of writing with pen and paper. It appeared in the Huffington Post, where nobody writes with pen and paper. You can read it here.

According to the article, a 2013 study done by a learning specialist at Indiana University's School of Medicine determined there were numerous benefits to writing by hand. Among them, sparking your creativity, driving higher brain functions and limiting distractions.

Of course, none of this matters. People don't like writing with a pen and paper because they have to scan it into their computer and optical character recognition software still isn't very good, so they end up doing too much re-writing.

Personally, I think the best kind of writing is any kind. If you have a pen and paper handy, go for it. The fantasy author Piers Anthony wrote his entire Xanth series (and lord knows how many other books) long form on legal pads which were later transcribed for publication. J.K. Rowling also enjoys writing long hand, and all her Harry Potter novels were produce with that method.

Were they more creative that way? Maybe. Did they prefer it. Undoubtedly.

It makes sense that there are physiological benefits to writing long hand. Personally, I write with two fingers--using a keyboard, of course, not a pen. I find it allows me to keep up a faster pace than I could if I were writing with a pen and paper. This is the only method which allows me to write close to the pace at which I think. To try and write it long hand I would find myself dwelling too long on specific words phrases, rather than allowing the story to flow freely from my mind as I prefer it.

If it bad for me to write this way? No. Should you write this way? I have no idea.

Many young writers think they need to buy a fancy leather bound notebook to write their great novel. This is wrong-headed. If they have a novel within them it will come out. They can use crayon to accomplish this or lead-based paint, it makes no difference. But choosing a method to write because you think it will make you a better writer is lunacy. Only writing itself can make you a better writing, not how you write.