Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writing By Hand: Is the Pen Mightier Than the Laptop?

Writing By Hand: Is the Pen Mightier than the Laptop?

This summer I’ve tried something new. I’ve been writing by hand.

Whoa. Isn’t that old fashioned? Unnecessary? Like teaching kids how to write cursive when they should be typing?

I used to think so, and then I didn’t have my laptop with me for a few days. My fiction and poetry seemed stronger than usual. So I experimented.

I wrote short fiction by hand, then typed it. Then I typed new fiction. Guess what? The handwritten fiction is stronger in all aspects: pacing, characterization, setting, plot.

I even tried starting in handwritten form, and then finishing in typed form. When I read those pieces, I can tell exactly where I typed up a handwritten section versus re-typing a typed section. It isn’t just a transition issue, it’s a whole text issue. Nice, flowing prose with great characterization turns to stilted, poorly written junk.

When I write with a pen, I write slowly. Super slowly.

Why? I’ve had two sports related accidental injuries that caused my median and radial nerves to get entwined and pinned down by my veins and muscle. Only 1 in 40,000 people ever get such injuries, and then only 1 in so many thousand requires surgery to fix them. Guess what? I am number 1! During my last major arm surgery I had surgeons from all over the world come to watch in the operating theatre at the University of Washington's hospital. I didn't tell my main doc, but really I would rather be of number 1 interest in something else. :-) However, how many people can say they've woken up to multiple languages in their recovery room, and joked with a doc from South Africa? Interesting experiences make for great stories.

But back to writing slowly - with plenty of physical therapy I regained 90-95% dexterity, sense of touch, and strength with both my arms and hands. I will always be very slow at handwriting, but I seem to need that pace with my fiction and poetry.

With a pen, I take more time with everything: my characters’ voices, actions, thoughts, feelings, and relationships; sentence length, pacing, and word choices.

So, I should take my magical new recipe for better writing and skip happily through my revision process, right? I suppose. I love the fact that I’ve found a way to strengthen my writing. I don’t like the fact that it is so slow. I’ve already made headway with my revision of The Crystal Sword. If I start re-writing it by hand, and then type it all up again . . . whew!

One page at a time, one notebook at a time . . . and eventually I will get there. The pen is currently mightier than the laptop at my houseexcept when I blog. :-D

Have you ever tried writing your stories by hand?

Scripture Blessings:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries an all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrendur my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3


Carol Riggs said...

I'm glad your surgery went well! Very interesting about the writing by hand...I USED to do that all the time. I'd write my rough draft by hand, and then type it up later. Now I compose right on the computer. Either typing or writing longhand fatigues my wrists anyway, though. But writing might give it a diff kind of break. I just may try it for my next novel! ;o)

Unknown said...

I may give writing in pen a try one of these days. You have be intrigued!

Joanne said...

I have so many notebooks filled with handwriten stories...I should go back and re read some. Interesting post. Blessings, Joanne