Every so often, I will feature guest posts from writers who actually have important and interesting things to say. Irene Roth is a professional writer and writing coach, which means she really knows her stuff. When she offered an article on how to improve your writing with an unusual technique, I happily took her up on it.
The vast majority of writers seem to have a keyboard of some kind close by. Whether it is a tiny keyboard on our phone, tablet, laptop, or a desktop keyboard, we are quite comfortable with typing our thoughts out quickly and efficiently for later on. Typing on screens have become the new norm. Neither do we have to spend many hours retyping our material from longhand later on. We believe we can save time if we simply type our work right onto the computer screen.
So, let’s look at four ways that writing our manuscripts in longhand can actually boost our creative energies just by picking up a pen instead of typing on a screen.
1. We Will Remember What We Wrote
The act of writing longhand will help us remember more of what we’re taking notes on. This is crucially important when we’re doing research for our manuscripts. Typing is a far less neurologically complex process than writing. This is because typing is simply a mechanical movement. We don’t really seem to be engaged with our material as much when we are writing things down. Further, when we write, large parts of our brains light up, making the activity much more complex.
2. It Beats Writer’s Block
Most writers struggle with writer’s block some time in their careers. We all have different ways of dealing with this difficulty. However, one of the best ways to consistently overcome writer’s block is to change the way we write. So, for instance, if we typically write on the computer screen, we should switch to writing longhand. And from my years of coaching, I have discovered that writers believe that writing in longhand is the solution to the problem.
This is probably because writing activates different parts of the brain. Therefore, it can short-circuit a case of writer’s block quite quickly. After all, we are using different muscles in our brain to write longhand. This can potentially trigger a positive array of interconnected thoughts, ideas and memories which can reduce or eliminate writer’s block.
3. We Will Write More Clearly
Because writing by hand is slower than typing, it also feels more labor-intensive. Because of this, writing by hand is actually a great tool to learn how to write more concisely and effectively. We will be more aware of extra words that we use or if we used a wrong word. In addition, the amount of focus that it takes to put pen to paper also helps us create more complete sentences with better and more vivid scenes. When we’re typing on the computer, we will be much more distracted than when we write by hand.
We Will Revise Better
Revising is by far the hardest part of writing. Just because we completed a first draft of our manuscript doesn’t mean that we’re done. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. The editing process has only just begun. We are usually way too close to our writing, so it may be hard to be objective about our writing, making editing difficult. Because we’ll need to transcribe our handwritten pages to a typed manuscript, we get the opportunity to review every word we’ve written as we type it. This can also help us detach from our work. By the time we finish typing up our manuscript, we can rework passages of our work so that they are smoother and more precise.
Given all of these benefits, it is important for writers to try to write in longhand as often as possible. Not only will they enjoy the overall creative process, think more clearly, and write better quality manuscripts, they will enjoy writing and will look forward to coming back to their writing the next day. Who knows, we may just fall in love with it too.
Irene S. Roth has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University and is currently using her expertise to write for kids about empowerment and self-esteem. She has published ten nonfiction books for kids and teens and sixty-five books for adults as well as 2,000 articles and book reviews both online and in print. She has been running workshops at Savvy Authors on many different topics for writers. She also leads a very successful mentoring program for writers on Savvy Authors that is in its fourth year.