The other day while sitting in a meeting at work, I had an idea for a blog. I was watching a coworker take notes on the meeting—longhand. Yes, she was actually writing on paper with a pen. Which got me thinking, when was the last time I wrote anything longer than a greeting card message by hand? Sure, I scribble notes on Post-its and write shopping lists, but the days of writing my high school essays on college-ruled paper seem like ancient history. So, I decided to write this by hand so I can accurately analyze the differences in my writing process.
Obviously, writing by hand takes longer, but not just because of my incredibly fast typing skills. When I write by hand, I think about each word before committing it to paper. Going back and correcting, even with the aid of white-out, is messy, and I want to get it right the first time.
On the other hand (pun intended), when I type, I do it quickly, almost stream-of-consciousness, and I edit as I go. If something doesn't sound right, the delete key takes care of it in a flash. I can also cut and paste to make the writing smoother, make it fit together if something doesn't flow. When I type, I can quickly check my spelling by plugging a word into Google or use the thesaurus to find just the right word.
So it would seem that typing is faster and more efficient, allowing for corrections and editing on the go. But are we losing something meaningful when we stop writing by hand? Is there some sort of connection between the writer and the written word that can only be transmitted through the pen/quill/whatever early humans used to create cave paintings? (Which, I suppose, raises a similar question about the value of traditional vs computer-generated art...)
Here's the way I see it: some things should/will always be done by hand. I certainly appreciate a hand-written card or note much more than an email. Even though I blog, I still sometimes write in my paper journal. I always admire nice handwriting. And while computers have provided us with the ability to create some amazing graphics, they can't make sculpture.
Ugh, my hand hurts! I can't wait to type this up.
Full Disclosure: I wrote this by hand in 3 different sittings because my hand kept getting tired. I am weak. It took me all of 5 minutes to type it.