Monday, December 17

The Benefits of Handwriting

The Benefits of Handwriting

Handwriting And Writer's Block

A while ago I suffered from writer's block. Every time I sat at my computer, readied my fingers on my keyboard and looked at the white 'paper' on my monitor, my inspiration would dry up.

Then, thanks to a writing exercise a friend put together, I discovered I could write if I used pen and paper rather than a keyboard.

Handwriting saved me.

NaNoWriMo helped get me back to using a keyboard--it wasn't fun writing 2,000 words longhand then typing them out. But I still find it easier to compose my thoughts when I write longhand.

More than that, I find it easier to enter into my imagination while I write. For me, writing longhand is much more like transcribing thoughts. When I use a keyboard it feels as though there is an extra layer between the ideas themselves and their expression.

The Benefit Of Slow Writing

Perhaps my preference for handwriting has to do with time. I write longhand slower than I type. Perhaps that gives my muse the time she needs to sort my ideas. I have time to mull, to consider, to think. (Typing vs. Longhand: Does it Affect Your Writing?)

I mentioned to a friend of mine--not a writer--that I wrote most of my short stories and blog posts by hand and then typed them.

He looked at me as though I'd confessed to the wholesale slaughter of small furry things. "But why?" he asked. "It takes so much more time. It's so much more work?"

And it is.

I tried to explain my difficulties using a word processor, I tried to explain that the words rebelled, that they refused to come.

But perhaps this isn't a bad thing. Perhaps handwriting is better.

The Cognitive Benefits of Handwriting

When I researched this blog post I discovered some claim writing longhand can do everything from staving off debilitating diseases to increasing the intellect. (See: How Handwriting Trains the Brain.) Make of that what you will.

In any case, it's reassuring to know I'm not alone. Anne M. Leone writers:
I'm good with technology, I get technology, I use technology. I use it in my writing, too .... I type each chapter into my computer on the same day or the day after I finish it, along with all of my scribbled notes and thoughts in the margins. It gives me the opportunity to do a brief revision and rethink of what I wrote, as well as providing a readable, search-able record of my work.

But once I return to the writing, I have to switch back to my notebook. Simple rewriting and editing I can do on the computer, but anything more complex, I need to write by hand, even if it's just to write down a new phrase, insert a paragraph, or restructure a scene.  (Writing by hand, Anne M Leone)

Programs That Will Help You Transcribe Your Work

Dragon Naturally Speaking

All you need is a headset or digital recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking. You can feed the sound file from your recorder to Dragon and the program will transcribe it. You need to train Dragon first but, after a while, this can save you a lot of time.

Tablet Apps

Use a tablet to write then use software to transform your chicken scratch into text.

- Handwriting Apps For iPad
- A Review of Handwriting Apps on the iPad

I looked for Apps for other tablets but didn't find any. If you know of one, please let me know! :-)

Other articles you might like:

- Getting Ready for 2013: A Writer's Guide
- Roleplaying Games And Writing, Does The One Help The Other?
- How To Design A Great Looking Book Cover

Photo link: "Handwriting - free texture" by Crafty Dogma under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. Hi Karen. I trained myself to write directly onto the computer in the interests of saving time, but I agree, I love handwriting, and at writer's group where we can write either by hand or computer, I choose to fill up my notebook. The words do flow better -- I think I write better.

    Happy Christmas


  2. I tend to use the computer, but still grab a pad when trying to get ideas down quickly. I do prefer paper when writing academically.

    1. Yes, I remember when I was in university I always did a rough sketch in my notebooks first. Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. I sometimes write directly on PC and sometime I just typed the word written on my notebook. But I must agree that handwriting let you come up with better imaginative story. I feel the same difficulty in transferring my thoughts to screen as you have mentioned in here.

    1. Thanks Fizza! Glad to know there are people out there like me. :-)


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