For the first time, I wrote a blog post, in longhand first, to be transcribed to type. It was a post on my anxiety regarding editing my work. I had been struggling with it for a while. You know the feeling. Jotting down notes on your phone, thinking about it whenever your mind is free or bored, typing and re-typing on your word-processing software and still getting nowhere. Writing isn’t wonderful, getting to the finishing point of a publishable piece is. However, writing it longhand, surprisingly, freed me of blocks I didn’t even know I had been harbouring, which had constricted the publishability of my work.
Unlike August, when I complained several times of lacking inspiration, I have been full of ideas in September. But, strangely enough, these ideas have been rather challenging for me. A post on editing may seem simple, but I wasn’t interested in rehashing Strunk and White or the Chicago Manual of Style. Blogging gods know how much I cross them on that account. These ideas have been hitting me on a deeper level, making me question behaviours and assumptions about myself. Ordinarily, I am glued to my laptop for most of the day. But, these ideas won’t even let me be distracted and slack on YouTube, like I usually do. So, one night, I deliberately switched off the computer, to work out my ideas in my mind. I reached for a notebook and pen when things started getting clearer.
I am a daily diarist, but that has little bearing on my writing-for-readership. That writing always occurs in type. I got my own computer when I was twelve. I had also fiddled around with my father’s typewriter. I really took to typing as a fish takes to water, and never undervalued it. Generations of women had taken to this device to make the likes of us pursue careers beyond it. There should be nothing but respect for it, and that can most effectively be expressed by using it.
But the relationship that a writer has with typing is very different from longhand. Longhand isn’t just another word for cursive writing, it literally is an extension of your dominant, corporeal hand. It is a more intimate, sensual feeling. Because nothing exists between you, a pen and a piece of paper, you feel as though you have more control. You feel freer. There is no device with a thousand distractions. There isn’t a red, curved line highlighting your mistakes as you make them. With longhand, you can go anywhere, do anything, on the page and beyond. Your pen may fly onto the desk, on the sheets, or even on the cold hard ground, if that is a position where you feel most inspired. A blank page is less intimidating than a cursor blinking on a blank screen.
I remember even when I used to write handwritten letters, I often made drafts, which I then copied in my best cursive to a fresh page. It may seem like school work, but it seemed to get better results than emails do. I am not trying to champion a cause for nostalgia, just because it was an established culture of the past. I am only trying to understand what were/are the advantages of such a practice, and besides the obvious romantic aspect of it, if there is anything skilful in it that might help our typed writing further.
What are your longhand habits?