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Creative Tip - Write It By Hand

Updated on March 8, 2013

Every writer goes through it. The blank page in front of you, taunting you with its emptiness. How can you defeat the white monster and move forward? How can you break through the barrier.

My go-to tip? Write it by hand!

It may make you groan (When’s the last time you put pen to paper?) but it works. Often the cause of writer’s block is being unsure where to go next, or how your story will progress. What should the character do 4 chapters from now? How will the story end?

Writing by hand allows you to forget all that and focus on the here and now. What should happen in this scene? What should the characters say now? What will move this particular action forward? When you put pen to paper your focus changes.

When you write at a computer, where you probably spend a lot of time already, there are so many other activities that can pull you away even in the best of creative moments. You can be typing steadily and see a notification pop up that you have an email. You are instantly taken out of the moment. It’s much worse when you are having trouble moving the story forward. Suddenly you can find that all your writing time was sucked up by Facebook, Twitter, or an addictive java game instead of on the words of your story.

For most of us, the days move at a lightening pace. There are so many thoughts tumbling around in our heads. Is the mortgage payment due soon? Who is going out with us on Friday? Do the kids have everything they need for school? When is that movie coming out I want to see? The physical act of writing quickly strips all of that away. Your body and brain syncs up and all of that falls away.

Not enough reason to try it? Look at what science says.

Writing by hand helps you remember things better.

“…sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in thinking, language and working memory—the system for temporarily storing and managing information.”

Writing by hand improves brain activity.

“Recent research has found that when students develop their handwriting, they also increase their brain activity and improve their fine motor skills.”

Writing by hand protects your brain as you age.

Some physicians are now recommending as a “good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.”

Writing by hand produces work faster and more thoroughly written pieces.

Those who physically write their work out do it more quickly and show more complete thought in the work.

Writing by hand improves language fluency.

For those who physically write out the words of a different language, or unfamiliar symbols, recognition is improved.

Try it out and see for yourself. You won’t be alone. Several famous writers have used the same time-tested technique!

· Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

· John Irving (Cider House Rules)

· JK Rowling (Harry Potter)

· Susan Sontag (The Volcano Lover)

· Sylvester Stallone (Rocky)


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    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Something I've thought about lately and now I intend to give a try, however if you have ever seen my handwriting, you might advise me to stick to the computer...but then again I'm a bad typist as well, so maybe I should get a secretary to take my dictation?...but then again that's too have given me inspiration at any rate, so thank you!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      TOTALLY agree! When ideas are not quite formulated enough to sculpt on the computer screen, my legal pads and pens are my best mind mapping tools. Also, congrats on the Rising Star hub!

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 4 years ago

      I agree with you that writing by hand is a great way to go. It's so true that when your on the computer distractions pop up all the time stopping you in your tracks.

      The author Julia Cameron of the Artist's Way and numerous other books, plays etc. got me started writing morning pages. It's simply sitting with pen and paper and putting down whats on your mind in a steady flow as you say in your hub. In this instance you don't edit as you go along you just write. So many interesting ideas come out of these pages. Sometimes I'll only write one or two pages at a time and other times six or more.

      This hub is a great reminder that we need to sit with our thoughts and just let them flow. The stories, poems, articles, and amazing projects will come out of this process. Voted Up and Useful!

    • Brilqntin profile image

      Diana 4 years ago

      I didn't realize that hand writing is creativity's best friend ;) but I did notice that when I am with a notebook and a pen at a nice place, I EASILY write 10 blog posts in a row for a few hours - it's as if words are pouring out of my hand independently lol - cool tip, thanks for sharing :-)

      Voted up and interesting.

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wendy L Young, nice Hub! Writing by hand is really a good idea. Spell-check always slows me down when I type. Words flow easier for me while writing more than typing.

    • India Stone profile image

      India Stone 4 years ago

      Thank You for writing a very useful article. I will be trying this for the next time I want to write. I have found it very hard to get motivated when I am staring at my computer.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Wendy, welcome to HubPages. My favorite and so appropriate statement you make, "Suddenly you can find that all your writing time was sucked up by Facebook, Twitter, or an addictive java game instead of on the words of your story." This is totally true. Some of us can write faster than type and vice versa, hence our preference. With the habitual use of the computer, handwriting has been probably put into the thing of the past category. But, that being said, if you have your handwritten notebooks in front of you, it's like looking at your first draft too. Thumbs up on your hub for your good advice to ponder.

    • theluckywriter profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      I wrote my last nano novel by hand. I really enjoyed the experience! Now I'm working on my second draft. There are pros and cons - retyping it is a great way to really pay attention to the words, but I can't do cut and paste or move things around as easily. I may or may not write another first draft by hand.

    • Wendy L Young profile image

      Wendy L Young 4 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you. It does work, and the benefits are definitely there - some of which they are just figuring out (as we are losing the art of handwriting).

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Very interesting. Technology has made a lot of us too lazy that writing by hand becomes a daunting task. But, the fact remains that this ancient art has a lot of mental benefits, some of which you've listed.

      Great hub. Voted up and interesting.