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Friday, March 19, 2010

Hand Made

My handwriting has returned. The chicken-scratch that has sufficed for over twenty years shows distinct signs of improvement, as a result of an unrelenting requirement from The Artist’s Way to write three Morning Pages longhand each day.

Since the fourth grade, I have alternated between straight, up-and-down printing and a flowing, right handed cursive--two styles of handwriting so radically different that I wonder what a graphologist would say. However, in my long career working as a recruitment manager, interviewing candidates face-to-face all day long and conducting hour-long telephone interviews as a regular part of business, my two writing techniques morphed into a messy shorthand scrawl, designed to catch relevant details while applicants spoke. Other than those barely-legible scribbles, I conducted written business via the computer.

Two months ago, I starting my Morning Pages and after the first few wrist-aching attempts, realized I was much more comfortable writing cursive. Now, my red Artist’s Way notebook is filled with Palmer-derived lettering. I use the same blue pen and each time I open the book I marvel at page after page of consistent, flowing script.

Before Morning Pages came into my life, all my writing occurred via the keyboard—Middle Passages, my two classes, timed writing, you name it; it all took place in front of the screen. Back space, delete, cut and paste, the ease of this writing-at-the-computer-addiction was so complete that the idea of attempting to capture anything of substance longhand flat out scared me--until a few days ago.

Last week, as I sipped coffee at a tiny table at the French CafĂ© while waiting for the library doors to open, an entry in The Artist’s Way inspired me to yank out the aforementioned red notebook. Grasping my pen, I opened to a blank page and began working on something I hadn't touched in several weeks. When the hands on the clocked hit 10:00, I climbed into the jeep for the short trip to the library, before realizing I’d forgotten the power cord and the laptop was dead. Rather than driving home, I opened the red notebook again. If you read Middle Passages regularly, you’ll remember that five pages later, I was pretty darn tickled with myself.

The pride from that minor accomplishment stuck with me, to the point that before my library visit this week, I stopped at Walgreen’s and bought a blue-spiral lined notebook. Pulling a chair up in front of my favorite polished cherry table situated in the sun underneath the palladium window, I grabbed my medium-point Paper Mate and went at it again. This time eight pages spewed out, which in longhand only comes to something like 1500 words, but felt like a marathon to me.

I’m not sure what is going on here, but cross your fingers, because so far, as long as the handwriting flows, it seems like words do too.

How do you write? On the computer or long-hand? Do you feel a difference?


arlee bird said...

I write almost exclusively on the computer. It's so much easier than back when you had to use a typewriter and save the typed pages. I used to write everything in long hand 40 years ago or so, but no more. I can't write in cursive very well anymore, it's all printing when I do write in longhand.

Helen Ginger said...

I write totally on the computer. I used to have beautiful handwriting. Now it's chicken scratch. I'm glad to see that it can come back.

Straight From Hel

Suzyhayze said...

OH! I write so much better with my hands holding a pencil. Really. I'm glad it works for you too. I've started to try to write on the keyboard... but not the important scenes. The important scenes seem to get written in my car. I know....

jbchicoine said...

I much prefer typing over longhand--it's faster and easily edited. Besides that, I have terrible handwriting which I have a hard time deciphering

Sharon said...

You've got me thinking. It's interesting how differently my brain works when my hands are involved with data transfer. Writing longhand, I spend much more time thinking before I draw the words. While at the computer, I let my mind loose, type, backspace, delete, cut, paste, rework. I really don't know which process is more creative for me.

glnroz said...

i must have done something wrong. I dont see my comment.. oh well, this must be said again.. I have figured out your problem. You must have had a Baaa-loooneee-eee sandwich for lunch because the idea that your writing is not fun or interesting is just that..Ballonnee( the idea ). Steven King is sort of an introvert himself. I have joined a local writer's guild (see my sidebar) to see if I could learn to write better from them. I think that is just a condition (insecurity) that we all share. Each blog I read has its own personality in my mind and for instance..... awwww heck I aint gonna have enough room here to explain, so you just gotta stay away from those bologna (Ballonnneee) sandwiches...:) glenn