No bones about it, I have terrible handwriting. I think it’s legible for the most part, but no one would ever call it nice. I don’t mind so much, but I do get handwriting-envy on more occasions than is normal (I think).
HOWEVER. Despite my poor penmanship, I still love writing things out by hand. I’m always fooled by the keyboard, thinking that I’ll be able to organize my thoughts better, more quickly and in a more logical fashion, but it rarely turns out to be true. Yes, the legibility decreases the more I write, as I find myself scrawling faster and faster so as to get the words out before my brain moves on to the next thought, but I find I care less.
When I’m typing, I’m completely conscious or every typo, spelling error or other sort of mistake that I make and am constantly frustrating myself by going back and correcting things that have really nothing to do with the ideas I’m trying to express. In the end, nothing you write the first time over ends up being the final product, so why should it matter if you’ve typed something wrong or skipped a word or letter here or there? Because things are clearer and because there’s that annoying little red or green squiggle under every mistake made in a furious rush to get the words on the page, every clerical foible takes precedence over the actual flow of script.
According to this article yesterday in GalleyCat, I’m not alone in my thoughts. Apparently, children in a particular study who wrote longhand, wrote “more, faster, and more complete sentences” than when they were faced with a keyboard and computer screen.
I promise you I’m no literary genius, hilarious person, venerable stringer-together of words or class-A wit, but I will say that when I read over notebooks I’ve kept over the years, I surprise myself over what I find there. I’m better pen to paper than I am on a keyboard, but the ease of typing still wins out time and time again, despite this knowledge.
Obviously, final products are pretty much required to be typed in today’s world, and I would feel sorry for the poor person who had to read more than one page of anything hastily scribbled by my own hand.* Ideas, though, personal journaling, observation and sudden flashes of inspiration are so much better served by pen and paper, no matter the legibility. After all, who’s going to really care what it looks like or how much your hand hurts if what comes out is the best thing you’ve thought of yet?
*Sincerest apologies to all of my high school teachers, particularly those of you in the English and history departments. You surely have suffered worse, but condolences just the same.