When I came back from Paris (this statement alone is bound to make you jealous), I brought back one precious gift, a treat : a quill pen (if you are curious, I have snapped a picture at the end). It is colourful, artistic and unusual but I am not here to praise my pen. I am here to praise the lost art of penmanship. And because this article would be hypocritical otherwise, I am currently (or was before I had to type it all up) writing it on my little notebook, with my new pen. And I can tell you already, there is a difference.
You are in control. You not only have power over the words you use but also over the way they curl on the page, the way they fill the whiteness under the tip of your fingers.
How is it any different, you ask?
I have read many articles on the subject (this one in the New York Times is worth a read), and it appears that the very gesture in handwriting engages a different part of the brain. And I speak from experience; writing by hand has brought a whole new dynamic to my thought process. It is like writing your own melody, like you have dived in an ancient world where technology and keyboards are nothing but an unforeseen, albeit ineluctable, future. So why not explore that hidden potential? It might help us learn better, faster, even be more creative.
I strive for a healthy balance between handwriting and typing. I tend to use my notebook for spontaneous ideas as I find my thoughts to flow better on paper. Yes it can be messy, yes it is filled with scribbles but the learning process is wildly different when you can see your thought process. The backspace button wipes away that lucidity.
So you ever feel stuck, if you are in the throes of Writer’s Block (again…) and the cursor on your screen is blinking naggingly, shut it down, move away from the screen and engage with words in a different way. It may just be the trigger you needed.
How often do you write with a pen on paper? Do you feel a difference when you write by hand?
And there it is. Isn’t it glorious?