Taking a screen break (or how I discovered the therapy of handwriting)

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered the benefits of getting out my ideas and thoughts via handwriting. However, a few years ago, I thought I’d stopped putting a pen to notepad for creative purposes for good.

My handwritten history

My handwriting has always been terrible. It was why I was put in a lot of the lower ability classes and had lots of support sessions when I was at secondary school. Plus, I smudged my writing and got ink on the side of my fingers a lot.

All the extra focus on my handwriting bothered me*, so when I got my hands on a laptop for university I was ecstatic. No more smudging, I thought. I’ll type everything from now on.

In university workshops, the subject of writing on a laptop vs. paper came up a few times. While I could appreciate the benefits of writing on paper (like not being able to delete mistakes in case you wanted to look at them later) I just thought it wasn’t me. I wanted legibility.

Free therapy sessions

I almost exclusively used my laptop to write for several years, but over the past nine or ten months I was beginning to feel the strain of looking at a computer screen all the time. I needed a break.

I’ve always jotted down idea snippets in notepads, but it’s never been more than that because my writing was illegible. But the screen irritation got me thinking, ‘what if I did more than just snippets?’

This led to me writing paragraphs and paragraphs in my notepads, and drawing graphs and scribbles. If something was bothering me, I’d write it all down. If I thought of a goal I wanted to achieve, I’d write it down. If I had a random thought or multiple ideas and directions for blog posts, I‘d write it all down. In fact, a lot of my blog posts now start as paragraphs in my notepads.

Whenever I was done with scribbling, I noticed that I felt calm and happy. That’s when I realised how therapeutic writing by hand can be.

My handwriting never needed to be legible to others. It’s just the idea stage in my creative process, where only I need to understand what I’m talking about. While I didn’t intend to use it as part of my process, I’ve felt the therapeutic benefits of handwriting.

*When my Mum told my Grandma that I was going to be studying creative writing at university, my Grandma said ‘That’s good, he could do with improving his handwriting.’

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