Friday, May 15, 2020

Unexpected Blessings of Writing by Hand: What Other Writers Find in Their Handwriting That's Not on Their Computer

Do you know "BrainPickings," the online newsletter/digest put together by Maria Popova?  (If you don't, it's worth a look.)  Popova recently wrote about her favorite books from 2019 and one was by the poet Ross Gay, called The Book of Delights.  In this article, Popova discusses Ross Gay's enjoyment of writing by hand, something not usual to writers in this super-fast electronic era.  

Writing by hand is slow, thoughts can come faster than they can be scribed.  But I read about more and more writers who swear by the practice.  Either for early drafts, sketching out ideas, even revision.

A colleague in this club tells me her handwritten scenes always contain unexpected blessings--ideas she would never have encountered otherwise.

Julia Cameron who launched The Artist's Way method of Morning Pages got me started on writing by hand.  Here's a great link to Julia discussing the benefits (from her website).  It was easy to go from Morning Pages into scenes--many times, my MP writing became book writing because the ideas flooded in.  

I'd already been writing by hand for years, trained by my mother who, until about two years before her death at age 98, wrote me several times a week and I wrote her back.  

In her early years, she wrote on an IBM Selectric, but after she retired, her letters were written by hand.  When I sensed she was going to lose both ability and interest, I began saving these letters.  Her handwriting is as familiar as my own.  She used our letters as a kind of journal.  Once, she was even writing me when I came to visit.  

Something about the unobserved space of writing by hand allowed both of us to share things that may not have come out in conversation.  Maybe this is true in our own writing by hand, whether journal or book project.

In this chaotic time, I've gone back to writing by hand.  It's my routine each morning and a treasured time.  Like my colleague I do find unexpected blessings in the "talking" to oneself on paper, using the repetitive movements of hand-writing.

Actually, I wasn't surprised recently to hear a psychologist discuss the healing properties of writing by hand--or any repetitive movements.  They are indeed a self-soothing blessing in this time.

If you haven't written by hand in a while, check out Ross Gay's book to find out what you might be missing.  And start up those Morning Pages again.  Prepare to be delightfully surprised at what you receive.

No comments:

Post a Comment