Handwriting in my writers notebook
I’ve probably banged on about this before, but nevertheless, I’m going to do it again.
Write your diary by hand.
I’m serious about this. No, really. There are many reasons.
Yes, you hate writing. Besides, you’ve got your computer and you can write so much more easily and quickly using a keyboard. And hell, a laptop or an iPad are so much more portable and….
Wait. What’s more portable than a little notebook and a pen?
There are reasons why using your hand to make marks on a page in the age-old way are important.
Firstly, writing with your hand will benefit you directly in a psychological way. You may not agree with my position on Gestalt, but I truly believe that the unconscious or subconscious is locked up in the tissues of your body and needs to speak. Allow it to, and it will say all the things you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge. I have personal experience of the incredible efficacy of this, so you’ll just have to trust me.
Using your hand may seem slower, but it will unlock parts of your mind that you have no conscious access to, and allow you to release emotions in a healthy way. Using your hand to write will heal you in ways you can’t imagine yet.
Using your hand slows things down enough to allow for reflection. Not everything that is fast is better. Sometimes you need to stop and think between sentences. Allowing your eyes to follow the flow of your nib on the page allows your mind the breathing space it needs to move on to the next emotion, memory, image.
Going slower is good.
Another reason to hand write your diary is for beauty’s sake. Yuck, you may think – Have you seen my handwriting????
Your handwriting may look like crap, but that’s because you don’t use it.
Practise is the key to making anything beautiful, and if you practise your writing, carefully and consciously, you will not only find yourself writing faster, but also more legibly and beautifully.
Again, this is something I know about. I’ve been keeping a diary since I was seven years old, and looking back through the volumes gives me the chance to see how my own handwriting has evolved. I have to say that I went through many phases of adopting the styles of others. Yes, I copied the handwriting of my best friends in order to be more like them. I’m sure many girls do. And as a teenager, I adopted some of those silly squiggles and loops that are so common – like drawing a circle instead of a dot on the top of a small case ‘i’, and so on. Yuck. Thankfully, I grew out of that one too. I even learnt to hold my pen in different ways in order to affect particular styles.
Now my handwriting has settled into a more mature, consistent style, although it does vary from day to day depending on my mood. I have worked on it, crafted it, to make it more attractive, more pleasing to the eye.
I also have two styles for practical purposes, my usual style, and the one I use for writing very quickly, which enables me to take verbatim notes in meetings and such like without having to know shorthand. Using either, I find that practise makes them more attractive and easier to read. The more I write, the better I get. Literally.
Writing is an art form in itself.
The other thing about handwriting is that, like map reading, it is becoming a lost art, and one we will sorely miss when it is gone. I am a rabid advocate of reading maps, and I object strongly to anyone assuming that I have a satnav I can just plug into. Satnavs are a disaster because they aren’t intelligent enough to handle the complexities of actual landscapes, and the number of times I’ve got stuck on a country road behind a vast articulated lorry whose driver has blindly followed his satnav’s instructions and then found he can’t escape are countless.
Similarly, handwriting takes account of the subtle nuances of the emotional landscape. Because my handwriting changes with my mood, it actually speaks as much as the words I record about how I am feeling, in a way that static typefaces never can.
But more than that, if we lose the capacity to write by hand, what would happen if we were suddenly without electricity or technology? How could we communicate? If you were stuck in a desert, how could you write on a rock to leave a message for someone trying to find you? If there were a natural disaster, Gods forbid, how could you leave a last message for your loved ones before you died? Or more simply, how could you make a quick note of your shopping needs if you lost your phone?
It may seem laborious and a bore, but please use your handwriting, at the very least in your journal. Not only will you be making a work of art to pass on to posterity, but you will find the simple act of allowing your brain to communicate directly through your arm will unleash creativity and healing undreamt of.
Right now, as I type this, I am actually yearning to pick up a pen and write. I don’t know what I’ll write. Anything, probably. Just a bit of rubbish. But the act of moving my hand across the page is seductive and addictive in a way that nothing else is, and I long for it.
You can feel this bliss too. It isn’t hard. You learnt how to do it at school.
Simply take up your pen and write.