Stop typing, before it's too late!

fountain pen

This is a little note to remind you why you should write your first drafts by hand.

When you open up to a new blank page and uncap your pen and use your hand to make a mark, you are telling your mind: now it is time to make art.

I know that might sound too simple. But it’s true. When you teach a child to write her name, you tell her, Draw the letter A. Draw the letter N. And so on. Writing by hand has an element of drawing left in it! Do not underestimate the creative force that is your own handwriting.

Writing by hand activates the creative part of your brain. That’s why it is so important. The next time you write, try writing slowly. Draw each letter carefully, as if you were drawing a picture. Forget about the whole word itself for a moment, and spend time with every single letter.

Give it some time. Do it for ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Notice how your body feels after twenty minutes of this drawing-writing.

When you create a story out of nothingness, when you paint pictures with your sentences, when you write characters who live and breathe as though they’re real people, you are using your imagination.

This is not the same part of your mind that clicks and drags, shoots off emails, and updates iCal. As we spend more and more time on our computers, we need to practice using our handwriting even more.

Writing by hand supports your imagination.

It doesn’t matter what kind of paper you use – lined or blank, smooth or textured, cardstock or onionskin. Your choice of writing utensil – blue ballpoint, mechanical pencil, Sharpie – might affect what you write, but then again, it might not. Your handwriting might change depending on your mood, or what you’re writing about. It might not change at all.

The important thing is, it’s up to you to pay attention to all of this. This is your work. This is your story. There are important and mysterious textures and nuances to your creative experience that simply cannot exist in a Word doc.

If you ignore that part of your writing, you risk missing out on what is most elemental and unique about your own voice and – dare I say it – life force.

And if you skip that, then how do you expect it to live in your sentences?

Sarah” width=

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4 comments

Pen and paper, remember me? « stories / nicole baute

[...] session was inspired by Sarah Selecky’s insistence that I “Stop typing, before it’s too late!” and kick-start the creative part of my brain by handwriting instead. And you know what? It worked. [...]
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Note: My blog's actual name is '"Seeking My Lost Voice" As to writing by hand, I normally do a lot of that. I say normally, because dear husband has temporarily misplaced a box containing several of my journals. Oh well, they and their unfinished stories will eventually reappear! Anyway, yes, I do agree there is something uniquely fulfilling about writing by hand. I do tend to get a bit carried away with it though, as I have a bit of an obsession with fine notebooks, journals, papers and glitter pens! Hmm, sounds like a teenage girl talking...yikes. :) Wordsgood
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I love writing with a fountain pen. My favourite ink is purple closely followed by teal and deepest black. Cream paper is wonderful. I really understand about the drawing aspect of writing. I paint with oils and so I love colour. These things naturally go together for me. Until I read your post I had never thought about it. So thank you for helping to see and feel these connections and this is my very first note/post I have received from you!
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When the weather smells like fall. | Amanda Leduc: Author

[…] so spare on that computer screen. No squiggles. No scribbled out paragraphs. But then I read this blog post from the ever-wonderful Sarah Selecky, and was reminded of the magic that can come from scribbling […]
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