Musings on The Art of Writing Longhand

Although we live in an age that worships technology and encourages writing on keyboards as the be all and end all for speed and interaction, I have long been a devoted and vocal supporter of writing longhand and enjoy sharing my musings this way with others.

Something happens within you when you take a pen or pencil in hand and begin to write. Handwriting, I believe, represents our unique individuality. Typed words on a page have no character, revealing little of the human being who wrote them.

In his book The Missing Ink – The Lost Art of Handwriting and Why it Matters, by Phillip Henscher, there is a poignant reminder of how the handwriting of someone can speak volumes. Typed words on a page cannot.

His book ends with an anecdote about his experience of finding a notebook filled with the writings of someone who had recently died. “It is a telling example of how the very flow and contour of handwriting gives back something of the person who produced it. Many readers will know what it is to come upon the handwriting of someone they once cared for who is now dead, and to feel the shock of proximity. As much as any photograph, and more than any sound or video recording, handwriting can bring back to us the essential character of a person.”

It goes on to say, “Writing this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that handwriting is good for us. It involves us in a relationship with the written word which is sensuous, immediate, and individual. It opens our personality out to the world.”

For many who know me personally, or have read my book, Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, you already know that I literally wrote the book longhand on large unlined scrapbook pages. The idea was to tap into our soul, our inner writer and to bypass the noise in our heads by simply sitting down to write. Let the words flow. Do not edit. Do not think about what you are writing. Trust it. Keep writing. For six to eight hours a day, I wrote. The stories came pouring out of me. I did trust it. I wrote the beginnings of a book. In three-and-a-half days. Over 30,000 words on unlined scrapbook pages. The beginnings of my book.

The interesting part is that when I went back recently to look at the scrapbooks with my musings, I was surprised (not really, but maybe a little) that the stories the way I wrote them back then, were pretty much the same as what ended up in the book. I decided to include a few pictures of snippets of the pages, so that curious readers can see the original handwritten content that later appeared in the book. Maybe you’ll even have fun finding the phrases from these handwritten pages, (with the occasional spelling mistake), somewhere in the finished book. Let me know!

And remember, the book is in no particular chronological order, so who knows where these pages might actually appear in the finished book. Have fun.