Put Your Hand To It

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With technology constantly advancing, authors and writers have taken to saving their work on the hard drive of their personal computers. If they’re risk-takers, the manuscript will only be saved on their Google Drive. But, what happens if the internet breaks because of a technological apocalypse? Does a writer wave farewell to the 300-page world they had created and give up on the art of creative writing?

It might come as a surprise, but longhand isn’t a lost art, although it is growing more and more extinct as time moves forward. Authors like Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Wolfe, Joe Haldeman, Andre Dubus III, and Joshua Ferris are only a few examples of authors who still take a pen and notebook to their home desk to write for several hours at a time. From a scientific standpoint, outside of creative writing, the reasons to use this style vary: individuals learn faster, recall more, are more creative, are less distracted, and  it keeps the brain sharp.

Need more of an author’s point of view to consider writing longhand? Patrick McLean posted a blog discussing his relationship with writing manuscripts by hand. He’s been reminded time and time again that every first draft won’t be perfect, so writing should be done effortlessly. In his experience, he sees that he writes better without a computer. Without the sounds of chat notifications, incoming emails, or the world wide web, McLean claims he has less distraction when writing. He sees paper as perishable but he sees technology as perishable as well; when the computer crashes, everything will be destroyed if there isn’t a backup on a hard drive. He firmly believes that just because technology evolves, the amount of content might grow, but that doesn’t mean the quality will get better.

Especially if you are in a slump or just looking for a way to revive your writing process, consider leaving technology on the side for a few hours. Give the old-fashioned longhand writing a try, instead of tapping away at a keyboard. It could potentially be lifechanging!

One thought on “Put Your Hand To It

  1. Karen at Reprobate Typewriter November 3, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    I’m doing nano longhand this year. I think I got into the habit of thinking that professionals write serious projects using a computer when I was in grade school, and never thought about the things that are lost by doing so until recently. I think my drafts are smoother when I write longhand, and that they get a once-over edit in the process of typing them.

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