Writing out the first draft of my articles by hand is a new thing that I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. It’s something I’ve come to enjoy actually, and have started to look forward to it. I’m reaching for analogue instead of digital.
But why? Doesn’t it take longer to complete an article if you write it out longhand? Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?
I currently have two jobs.
I work as a freelance editor and along with being a private nanny/ tutor. I live in the UK and we are currently in a third national lockdown. Even the schools are closed, and at the moment, could be until Easter 2021.
My two colleagues are seven and ten, and I help with their school work. If they were at school, they would have handwriting practice within their timetable. The seven-year-old needs to practice more than their older sibling, but it reminded me that as adults in the 21st century, with access to smartphones, smartwatches, laptops and tablets, how much handwriting do we do daily?
Quickly, practising my handwriting became another New Year’s resolution. Not so much a goal. My handwriting is already pretty good if I do say so myself. I started looking for places during my week to practice. Writing out the first draft, longhand is just one of them.
Towards the end of 2020, I wrote numerous articles.
They were submitted to various publications and I’m pretty sure all of them were rejected. In hindsight, I’m not surprised. Gutted but not surprised. They were not my best writing or ideas; it was a case of quantity instead of quality. By handwriting my first drafts I have slowed down the process.
I think before I write.
I have found myself thinking more carefully about the words I used and the order I write them in. It is the first draft so things do change. In the process of typing, I’m also editing. Before I submit and/ or publish articles, I edit another two times. When I’m handwriting, I’m also planning. Before I start any article, I think about it for some time and then write down several points I want to mention. I have found the handwriting process is very helpful in fleshing out those points and planning them in more depth.
It’s somewhat meditative and relaxing, which I like.
By handwriting, I also get to use my stationery.
Usually, my stationery collection just sits on my desk, or even on the floor of my bedroom. I graduated from grad school in December 2019 and since then I haven’t had much need for stationery. At the moment I usually write a minimum of two pages (or two sheets) of A4 per article.
It’s a little thing really, but I love stationery, browsing in the shops and looking at all the notebooks and paper and pens I could buy. Even during the pandemic and non-essential shops closed, I still online window shop. By handwriting, in general, I use up my current stock and get to buy more.
It also means I’m not staring at a screen.
Today is a little different. As I write this article, I’m also watching the US Presidential Inauguration. There are also times when I need access to the internet for research.
Even when that happens though, it’s nice not to have flick back and forth between an internet browser and word document which depending on how many tabs you have open, can be a nightmare. It reminds me of being a student a little, plus it’s nice not to be completely glued to a screen.
I may not handwrite everything I write. At the end of 2020, I wrote the first draft of a novel in 2020. I did not handwrite that and have great respect and admiration for anyone who does.
Until I decide to stop though, I will carry on practising my handwriting, choosing quality writing instead of quantity of articles, enjoy using stationery, feeling like a student, and reaching for analogue instead of digital.