I have just read a great article about writing long-hand, shared by the fantastic Zoe from Mascara for the Mind. In it, Lee Rourke describes how he and writers like him choose to write their novels out by hand in note-books rather than on computers or tablets. Reasons he gives include the noise of tapping keys and the ephemeral nature of typed sentences that can be there one minute and gone the next with a touch of the delete key.
I too like to write long-hand, especially when putting together a longer article or blog post. For me there is nothing like the feeling of words flowing from the end of my pen or pencil. My typing skills are best described as proficient and words tend to appear on the screen in fits and starts – a pen or pencil brings forth the words at the same speed as I think them up.
And then there’s spelling and grammar. I’m a firm believer in the importance of both – a missing comma or a bad spelling can all change the meaning, and my enjoyment, of a piece of text. When I am typing on a key board, inevitably I come up with typos and miss the comma key from time to time. These mistakes bother me and I have to go back and correct them before I continue, which interrupts my flow. On the rare occasions when I keep going, the squiggly red and green lines that Microsoft Word uses to show me where I’ve gone wrong are difficult to block out!
I also find that I hear the words as I write them in a way that I don’t when I’m typing. This is a fundamentally important part of the writing process for me – it enables me to tell if I’ve got the tone of voice right and if my sentences and phrases come across well. If it’s not working for me, then it probably won’t for others. If I sound like I’m talking to a 3-year-old then my writing probably won’t go down well with my academic colleagues; if I sound terribly formal, then my friends will wonder what’s going on. Being able to change your tone and writing style to suit your audience are core elements of good communication.
So I won’t be giving up my pens and pencils anytime soon. If you’re welded to your laptop, why not try a bit of old-fashioned putting pen to paper and see where it takes you?
Until next time