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October 26, 2021
THE JOY OF WRITING BY HAND
BY EMMA LAVELLE - FIELD & NEST
As a child, I was never without a notebook. I would carry one around with me wherever I went, scribbling down short stories and diary entries, daydreaming of a future as a writer. When I acquired my first laptop, I moved away from notebooks and my writing became words on a screen, saved as files rather than tangible pieces of paper. But in recent years I have rediscovered the joy of putting pen to paper and writing by hand. This simple, analogue way of writing has a slow, calming feel that is deservingly romanticised.
To really get into the zone with writing this piece, I initially wrote it by pen in a notebook, prior to typing it up. Not only did this allow me to sit outdoors in my garden, curled up on my favourite chair rather than tethered to technology that insists I sit beside a plug socket, but it created the environment for a more considered article, where I carefully thought about each word prior to writing it down. Sometimes when we type, we become complacent with the trusty backspace key, but when we write by hand, each word is precious.
There is nothing more satisfying than opening the page on a crisp new notebook and writing the first words on a clean sheet of paper. A hint of nostalgia from school days combined with a new appreciation of finite objects. You can only write on that first page once, and there is a distinct joy to christening your notebook.
Although the pages of a notebook are limited, there is a unique pleasure to filling them up. I like to organise my notebooks with different books for fiction, work, to-do lists and journaling. Truthfully, my favourites are those full of lists and ideas; the pads I carry around in my bag to scrawl in whenever inspiration strikes. If I’m on a train or sat in a café, I like to have a notebook to hand to scribble down my thoughts. Writing a list or jotting down the spark of an idea helps to clear my head, allowing me to focus on other tasks while relieving stress. Getting your ideas down on paper is the first step towards making them reality.
Sitting and writing in a notebook, especially scribing personal thoughts and observations, always takes me back to childhood memories of writing in a diary. I loved reading books about diarists and note-keepers – Adrian Mole, Harriet the Spy, I Capture the Castle – and have always had a romantic view of writing a journal. Writing by hand also perfectly fits into my ethos of living a slower, more considered life: taking my time over my writing and savouring every word. Writing is something best enjoyed at a slow pace. If you take your time, you allow your brain the opportunity to consider what you want to say. I am personally a fast writer but writing by hand allows me to slow down and really pay attention to the words that I write.
My writing process these days has to involve technology, but my trusty pile of notebooks always come first and foremost. The joy that I associate with my work as a writer all stems from putting pen to actual paper, making those permanent markings with my words.
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