I know I'm not alone in the writing community in writing my drafts by hand. When I'm sitting at the computer, watching a blinking cursor, my writing feels stilted, inanimate, much like the computer itself. But when I put pen to paper, magical things happen. I can feel my character join my body, speak in her voice. A story unfolds on the paper in front of me, pen stroke by pen stroke.
This might surprise people who know me. I'm good with technology, I get technology, I use technology. I use it in my writing, too (I've posted about my use of Scrivener and mind map software). I type each chapter into my computer on the same day or the day after I finish it, along with all of my scribbled notes and thoughts in the margins. It gives me the opportunity to do a brief revision and rethink of what I wrote, as well as providing a readable, search-able record of my work.
But once I return to the writing, I have to switch back to my notebook. Simple rewriting and editing I can do on the computer, but anything more complex, I need to write by hand, even if it's just to write down a new phrase, insert a paragraph, or restructure a scene.
I read an article recently (via Twitter!) that seems to support this perspective. Gewndolyn Bounds, for the Wall Street Journal, explains that research shows writing by hands triggers numerous brain functions that pushing a key on a keyboard does not. The articles gets into the debate about whether it's worth teaching today's children to write by hand. It's a complex debate, and one I feel I can't comment on, having not read much of the research or grown up with technology from infancy. But for me, I imagine I will always be one of those dinosaurs writing by hand.
What about you? Do you find the same benefits from writing by hand?