The trouble with handwriting is its advantage

DebE —  May 15, 2012 — 4 Comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my computer lately (“What do you mean ‘lately’? You’re there everyday.” you demand …). OK. I haven’t been using my computer in the most healthy way – avoiding overuse and all that guff. So, I was finding that my wrist was getting a tad sore, and decided to try something other than typing and surfing. I grabbed paper and pen, jotted down the last few lines I’d types up, turned off the machine, lay down on the floor and began writing … handwriting.

The thing about handwriting is that I find that it engages my brain differently to typing, so I often find that my ideas begin to flow better when I’m handwriting. Also, if I’m troubled about something, rather that flicking to a browser window, or checking Twitter, I actually deal with the issue at hand and continue writing. Even if it gets scribbled out and rewritten a few times before I’m happy, the fact is that it’s getting written.

And then there is the fact that I have to type it up in order to keep my digital version up to date – plus, it’s easier to make sweeping changes to the digital version.

But, you know what? That’s one of the things I like about handwriting – when I type it up, I’m already editing. I’m already taking a second look at my words, my ideas, my imagery. And, I think that is why a lot of my earlier ideas were better than my more recent ones (hence why the current rewrite is largely old stuff with new merged in) – because when I started this thing, I often worked away from a computer … or, right beside one, but not one that I wanted to be writing my story on (read: work computers). So, I started out with a lot of handwriting.

In fact, I think the only thing I don’t like about handwriting is that it uses up paper. And, as much as I have a soft spot for the old faithful, I am also keen to move toward a paper-reduced society … save the trees for cleaning our air, I say. I’m a bit of a fan of free-growing forests, as opposed to those rows upon rows of trees specifically grown for harvesting. There’s something truly beautiful about a forest with well developed undergrowth … uh oh … two conversations blending and that sentence suddenly took on a whole other visual image. Ew ew ew.

Right, where was I? Oh, right, handwriting, paper … but I do like a nice pen. Handwriting gives me an excuse to use a pretty pen … although the main thing is that they’re comfy. I have a good few comfy pens. Especially my Parker ones (plug plug).

Oh, OK. One problem with handwriting is that it can feel like you have written a whole lot more than you actually have … I say, looking at my piddly 727 words today … Eight and a bit A5 pages. Yeah … I can see how I only managed that. There are a few scribbles, and I probably only get 100-ish words per page … I’m rambling. I have reached that point in my post where I should come up with a strong ending to match the flourish of my opening. Or … ask a question. Oh, oh!

So, tell me … do you ever hand write your fiction?




Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

4 responses to The trouble with handwriting is its advantage


    It’s been ages since I wrote by hand. When I was younger I’d fill notebooks upon notebooks with stories, but ever since I realised that typing everything up is much easier and doesn’t kill my fingers and wrist as much as writing by hand does, I moved on. Nowadays I will only use paper and pencils when plotting and brainstorming.

    Though I have to admit, you do have a point when you say that typing up things you’d written by hand helps you edit.


      There’s no doubt that typing is faster & superior when the ideas are flowing. I’m no purist, but I’ll be keeping a few notebooks around for a time, yet!


    Parkers are too slim for tentacles. Sheaffers work better. Mont Blancs work but they’re too flashy. It’s not about style, it’s about substance.


      This is true – hence why I love my family wagon with the sports engine inside (no one expects it to go like the clappers, but it does).
      In all honesty, lately I have been using a branded pen I got from the agency I used to temp for – a decent girth (don’t think inappropriate thoughts, don’t think inappropriate thoughts . . .) and a rubber grip (uh oh . . .)

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