Writing by hand

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Smashter
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Writing by hand

Post by Smashter »

My jaw dropped when I read this. Emphasis mine.
jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:59 pm
Also suggest adding Stephenson's Cryptonomicon ... it has a lot of Enigma/Bletchley park in there as a parallel story. Might also want to add the Baroque cycle et al. (3 books) for a lot of Newton/Leibnitz stuff. It has an interesting background in that the manuscript was all handwritten. Anathem is about [long] time (and alternative timelines).
(from a book recommendation thread.)

That's so much handwriting!

I write for a living (not creative writing, sadly) and I'm always saying I'm going to do more longhand, but I never get around to it. At least, not for work. When I'm writing creatively, or in a journal, I enjoy writing freehand. I like the way it feels to put pen to paper. I like doodling in the margins. I like being forced to slow down.

But I still don't do it that often, as speed ends up taking precedence.

Does anyone make it a point to write by hand? Do you notice a difference in the quality or style of your writing? Jacob, I think I remember you saying at some point you were trying that out as a way to make your ideas more concise, I'd be curious to hear how that went.

jacob
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by jacob »

Not well ... Instead I'm currently trying out a new experiment using a Neo2 Alphasmart that I bought on eBay for $25 (shipping included). My main writing problem is that I have a serious case of editor-brain these days. If I were to blame external circumstances, this has come about from mainly engaging in paragraph length answers and carefully choosing my words dealing with journalist interview questions or the forum posts that has dominated my writing over the past several years. I used to care far less about how my words would come across/be interpreted. In Mt Stupid terms, I think I used to write from the top of Mt Stupid, but now I write or fail to write because I'm sitting in the valley behind the mountain.

The Neo2 is really annoying to use as an editor and so I can write much more and typically finish at least several paragraphs before losing momentum. On the downside, I'm usually not too happy about my first draft which then leads to restarting all over and writing a second draft which then gets edited. The effect of the Neo2 is pretty much the opposite of handwriting. Much more verbose. But at least it's easier to edit down than edit up.

PS: IIRC, the handwritten manuscript was some 3000 pages. It's now in some museum. You can find pictures on the interwebs.

Seppia
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Seppia »

jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:49 pm
I used to care far less about how my words would come across/be interpreted. In Mt Stupid terms, I think I used to write from the top of Mt Stupid, but now I write or fail to write because I'm sitting in the valley behind the mountain.
I noticed this, and personally would love to get from time to time an "unfiltered" version of Jacob, similar to the book/early days.
Your posts are equally as excellent in terms of content, but I loved the dry "Nordic" humour* of the early days that said loudly "yeah I don't give an eff" :lol:

I would imagine that's something you're not comfortable with though.

Sorry for the thread derail at post #3

*that for sure many Americans found offensive ("how dare he say that that's sooo rude")

Campitor
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Campitor »

I write by hand only when trying to cement facts and concepts into memory. I summarize the facts and concepts in writing 1st and then try to recall them by writing down what I remember - it’s tedious but effective.

Seppia
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Seppia »

Today, I hand write only when I take notes at business meetings.
I've always written little, writing for me serves as a way to summarize what's important (ie when in university, I would write max one page of notes per hour), as for some reason I tend to remember well what I write down.

It's gotten so extreme (and my handwriting so shitty) that many times when I re read my notes there are parts I can't decipher.
But it doesn't matter as the key concepts are stuck in my mind (I'm blessed with good memory for important stuff)

chenda
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by chenda »

Yes I also write for a living (legal) and only use hand writing for diaries and notes and things. I'm writing a storey at the moment and its all typed; I like to cut, paste, edit, change etc as I go. Doing by hand would be creatively restrictive.

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Bankai
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Bankai »

Waste of time similar to hand washing. I'm twice as fast touch-typing and I'm slow at that, I imagine faster person touchtypes 4x the speed of handwriting.
Last edited by Bankai on Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

chenda
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by chenda »

Bankai wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:52 pm
Waste of time similar to hand washing.
Of clothes I hope you mean ? :lol:

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Bankai
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Bankai »

:D

IlliniDave
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by IlliniDave »

I write by hand periodically. I don't do much writing for work any more (at one time there was a fair amount of technical writing--usually typed), but all my ER plotting/scheming that isn't shared here is in a bunch of journal notebooks or scraps of paper, along with a couple other odd projects. I even write in cursive, something they didn't even really teach my kids in school beyond learning to sign their names. I can't say whether writing by hand versus typing is much different in terms of results. It's just an old habit I developed before Gore invented PCs.

Jason
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by Jason »

When considering the written output of ancient and medieval writers, you must take into account the use of an amanuensis. Someone like Augustine, would employ multiple ones simultaneously, dictating on a rotating basis. So although they are often portrayed with quill in had, they were oftentimes merely prolific at dictating.

I went back to grad school middle age in an intensive reading/writing program. When taking my first exam given in the traditional blue book format, I could not write. Literally. It resembled writing, but it was coming out somewhat backwards. I thought I was having a mini-stroke. I tried printing as opposed to cursive. That didn't work. So I went back to cursive. It was a disaster. I think it affected my grade being that it was so sloppy. I never considered that it had become dormant. Eventually, the muscle memory came back through practice.

anesde
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by anesde »

I write by hand in meetings as it forces me to give my undivided attention. A laptop poses too much distraction. Also, since I can’t write longhand very fast I have to be concise and only write out the key points. I usually then recap by writing it out electronically.

Beyond that I never write longhand. I kept a journal when I backpacked thru South America about 10 years ago which is interesting to re-read every once in a while, but it’s because of substance and not due to longhand.

Curious if someone feels like they get something out of writing longhand? I have terrible handwriting so perhaps if I didn’t I’d be more inclined.

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jennypenny
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by jennypenny »

I mostly write by hand because my writing is much better that way. When I first struggled to compose at the keyboard I thought maybe it was my typing, so I took lessons and learned how to type properly. I can type over 100 words/minute now (basically in real time) but I still struggle. Too much editing while composing. I also think the screen/keys trigger the wrong part of my brain -- a part that should be dormant during the writing process -- and takes energy away from the creative part I need firing on all cylinders when I write.

Writing by hand has its downsides ... when I was working on a project a while back, most of my best notes/writing ended up in a binder instead of the online manuscript and it annoyed the other person on the project.

George the original one
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by George the original one »

I'm a keyboard composer. It's so much better not having to transcribe handwritten text because I know I'm just going to rearrange it anyway.

horsewoman
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by horsewoman »

I write as much as possible by hand, it is even an ongoing project of mine to make my handwriting more beautiful. It's calming and makes me happy to produce beautiful letters. My family regularly "employes" me to write invitations or cards.

Back in school I noticed that I always remembered stuff I had written by hand better than typed stuff. These days I write out the lyrics for my bands songs several times to commit them to memory. Same with chords for my instruments. Don't know if it is because I am a visual learner, but it works for me.

I broke a finger on my right hand last weekend, not being able to hold a pen properly is so annoying!

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C40
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by C40 »

I write quite a lot by hand.

- Actions lists
- Exercise/fitness/health logs
- Book notes, or notes on other things I'm learning
- Journaling
- Designing things
- Records of vehicle maintenance
- Numbers for monthly finance updates

I enjoy the act of writing. I've been into fountain pens for about ten years now. They can make writing more interesting on the whole, and more enjoyable in the act.

There was a recent Tim Ferriss Podcast - with Neil Gaiman as the guest. Neil is an author and writes his first drafts entirely by hand. He talks about that for a good chunk of the podcast episode. Surprisingly, his handwriting is atrocious. (though to some amount it's not all that surprising, given that the poor guy made himself write on a book that doesn't lay anywhere near flat and has a huge wire binding)

I do also have a nice mechanical keyboard for typing. I really like the keyboard, and when I'm thinking about typing on the keyboard while typing on the keyboard (right now), it is particularly enjoyable. But... most of the time that I'm typing, I'm not thinking about that, and do not seem to particularly enjoy using this keyboard more than normal ones in the way that I particularly like writing with nice pens more than crappy ones.

daylen
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by daylen »

I have at least four different writing modes.

1. Forum writing is quick and short. No preparation.

2. Email writing to my cousin is longer and more well thought out. Blogging also fits into this category. For this I usually have notes(3) to focus my content.

3. Handwriting/drawing is non-linear. I rarely write out full sentences, but instead I have developed my own style/code that makes extensive use of diagrams. After doing this for years, I can feel/see an evolutionary process unfolding. My actual mind space has been coupling to my drawing space. Attention and neural maintenance constraints are selecting for representations that are more scale-invariant (and aesthetically pleasing). All this is being archived into several notebooks that can be later referenced to re-surface hidden complexity. Though, I do not go back much beyond about a year since my old stuff is quickly growing obsolete.

4. Another level of selection happens when I aggregate my notes into a poster. Posters are done with pastels and are meant to be more artistic. These can stay up on my wall for months to help direct my imagination towards the construction of a frame or an alternate reality.

Here are some notes and meta-notes to demonstrate what I mean. No good posters to show currently.

Meta-notes:

Image Image Image Image

Notes:

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

horsewoman
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by horsewoman »

@daylen: some of your notes remind me of my mind maps. I use them while planning things (everything from outings to careers, really!) I write pertinent words down on different parts of a blank page, draw circles around the words and start writing what comes to mind close to the circles, connecting corresponding data with lines. Mostly I get rid of the paper afterwards, because I feel everything is sorted in my brain. Maybe I should keep them for further study later on.

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fiby41
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by fiby41 »

When I was learning Russian I wrote down everything the teacher said. Reasons:
1 FOMO
2 I noticed some words I could assign meaning to in context but when I heard it somewhere else I would remember the previous instances when I heard it but not it's meaning
3 to find meaning of words later
4 she'd speak slowly so that all could keep up and my mind would wander if it wasn't kept engaged by hand.

Challenges: Because I learnt using primarily printed material I can't write Russian in cursive fast. This'd make transcribing painful. So I'd switch to transliterating in Devanagari.
There are two Russian letters with no sound ь and ъ called soft and hard signs respectively. I'd use ् and ऽ which are also not voiced. It's used to mark the absence of vowel including at the end on infinitive/root forms of verbs in both writing systems.
Only time I'd have to pause to think consciously was when toggling between
ц and ч: the tz or च़ in Tzar/Czar and ch or च in chai
Ж and з: second Cyrillic letter is the first z or झ़ sound in xerox.
Doing so especially helped when I had to memorize large extract of text, usually poem or stories. Even if I had a printout I'd rewrite it in Cyrillic and devanAgarI on opposite facing pages. There're two things here. First thing that's happening is it's hard to explain but your eyes recognize your own handwriting. Second, being phonetic you're making a one to one correspondence of a sound and the letter it's represented by.

Results:
Filled up the one and half 300 page 30×21 cm notebooks sometimes margins included. Started using words intuitively without remembering where I learnt them. Was down to the 7th and 8th pen of a packet of 10 in bubble wrap plus 1 which was received for free notwithstanding.

ertyu
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Re: Writing by hand

Post by ertyu »

Creative writing and non-fiction writing, work-related stuff, forum posts, etc., I write on my laptop. Where I would really recommend handwriting is journaling. There's something about the combination of no screen glare + the act of handwriting putting you more "in your body" that results in being able to be with my "stuff" better. Anything that requires introspection, navel-gazing, inner transformation, and the like, I stick with handwriting and recommend others do, too. An added bonus is that I get less distracted when I hand-write. Less compulsion to check what happened in these 4 different discord channels + my work chats + fintwit + oooh, i wonder if there's any good cat pictures on reddit lol

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