Writing by hand

This post is #34 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.

You don’t need to convince people who use “journal” as a verb of the value of writing things down longhand. (Although some, you must convince of the the value of editing before taking things public.)

The Keyboard People can push back, though. “I can think faster than I can write longhand,” they say, or “I can’t read my own writing.”

Both of these things are true for me, and yet I have filled two cubic feet with chicken-scratchings on paper anyway. Because despite what I carelessly tossed off many years ago, the point of writing a journal by hand is to write a journal by hand. Period. That your journals provide a “map of you” is a kind of bonus-extra, a by-product of the true point, which is spend time quietly with yourself, being exactly where you’re at.

What can I say? You live, and hopefully, you learn. But in case it’s still not clear, I suggest you spend more time walking, and less time looking at your maps.





  1. Love that phrase: spend more time walking and less time looking at your maps… I think I just might have that tattooed somewhere…

    Thank you.

  2. I’ve been reading your articles for over a year now, but this newest one inspired me enough to comment. I’m not anti-computer (work on one all day), but I find that hand writing in my journal is not only therapeutic, but makes me feel secure…you know, in case there’s an apocalyptic power outage for months, I can still write out my babble. I’ve nearly completed three, college-ruled notebooks full now, but haven’t gone back to read any of it yet…I think that’s bad luck. You know, like when you’re having a yard sale and start counting the money before it’s over? Bad luck. Anyway, love your writings and appreciate your effort to “pay it forward” to the up-and-coming young women writers of tomorrow. Keep it goin’ woman!

  3. When I tell people I often hand-write first drafts, they gasp. But I’m old school, and truly my mind works best when I write by hand first. If ever I get stuck when pounding away at the keyboard, I switch to pen and paper and voila, magic happens. This is a great project you’re doing!

  4. (I know who Jerry Lewis is! I’m young enough that it’s surprising, and old enough to have watched the telethon.)

    I don’t write my journal by hand, but I do take notes longhand. I have to. If I do it with the computer, whatever I’m trying to learn doesn’t stick with me. I realize the contradiction here – if I’d write my journal longhand, maybe I wouldn’t have such a shitty memory. That’s not lost on me. But sometimes, you want to get those thoughts out as quick as you think them, wanting them to be over with so they won’t bother you for another day.

    Then again, maybe they’d go away altogether if I’d get out some freaking paper.

Comments are closed.