I said, “So do I!”
She said she had read somewhere that you engage different parts of your brain or different skills in writing by hand than you do in typing. So I looked it up.
I found this article from The Guardian, particularly this quote:
“Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought,” says Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva.
and this one, by Claire Bustarret, a specialist on codex manuscripts at the Maurice Halbwachs research center in Paris:
“With a pen and paper, it’s all there. Words crossed out or corrected, bits scribbled in the margin and later additions are there for good, leaving a visual and tactile record of your work and its creative stages.”
Although most of the article is about how writing by hand assists learning, I found those two quotes helpful in understanding why moving from the keyboard to pen and paper busts writer’s block for so many.
Typing can become automatic, if you do it enough. Writing is always an act of conscious will. Odd that this would free creativity, but think about it: Your inner editor is busy making sure you connect those letters, dot those i’s and cross those t’s, leaving your subconscious room to sneak past it.
Writing by hand, with all its cross-outs and inserts, both gives you permission to make a mistake and recover from it AND gives you the ability to recover exactly what you said before that wasn’t a mistake after all. It’s a lot easier to view different variations all in one place on a scribbley piece of paper than it is to compare fifteen windows of identical-looking typeface.
And, something else referred to in the article in the context of learning, handwriting is actually art. You wouldn’t even have to be literate to copy a manuscript if you were good at drawing; you actually draw the letters, after all. Again, you can fool that pesky inner editor into thinking, “Oh, she isn’t trying to write anything; she’s doing art.”
Excuse me, now — I think I’m going to go shopping for a fountain pen. With royal blue ink. Yeah, I think my muse would like that.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Do you write by hand, in cursive or print, or do you write on the keyboard? Or sometimes one and sometimes the other? Why?