The reasons I write better by hand are many.


One is that Iím lazy and donít want to write any unnecessary stuff and have to go back and cross it out. So it encourages me to go slower. And get each sentence right, one thought at a time as I build forward. Typing is the opposite. I tend to just type away whatever crap wants to come out because of a built-in sense of security of knowing Iíll soon be going back and making corrections. The result of all this is a lot of sentences most of which are bad. Which means more revision, which is fine, but when I do go back, itís difficult to be in the exact mental state as before. This means more inconsistencies, like trying to weld together different types of steel.


And to simply say typing is faster than writing by hand is misleading. Because it doesnít account for scribble, which is essential for joining thoughts together as quickly and reliably as possible. With scribble I need only to make the mark of an idea (which I or my descendents will understand later) as quickly as possible before the flicker of the next idea goes dim. At a keyboard, I conceive of a phrase or sentence but then there is this artificially imposed period of ďtyping it out time,Ē which has more to do with finger moving than thinking. My full brain is not engaged in the one single effort of conceiving and executing a thought to completion. If the word is too hard to spell I may get distracted, marveling at the extraordinary abilities of spellchecker. If the word is too long I may become tired, and have to check email. Again, a thought could be lost. Many trains of thought have vanished. I would like to have them all back.


On a real page of paper, I can literally see the shape of things as they form relationships to one another and coalesce. I can see the writing for what it is, a painting of words on a page, of interrelated ideas and gestures. Rather than the simple left to right of word processing. The freedom to scribble here and there. Cross out, cross in. Up, down. Heavy, light. Zibble. All of these freedoms are not circumstantial trivialities but are actually more in tune with our natural brain functions. Our ideas come from our brain. And our brain is connected to our hand. And nowhere in any of this is Times New Roman.


Itís a shame I never do it anymore.



April 2007