This essay is the first piece of writing I’ve done by hand, start to finish, since 5th grade

Since I write both by hand and on the computer I found this essay appealing. Kevin Hartnett (whose image I include–the actual image of the essay) writes the entire essay by hand and notices some differences compared to writing on the computer:

This essay is the first piece of writing I’ve done by hand, start to finish, since 5th grade, 1992. I drafted it using a Uniball Signo pen and black notebook while sitting at my desk. I edited it in the same way. When it came time to enter the essay into the computer so that it could appear on this website, I typed it in almost exactly as I’d put it down on paper…

When I write by hand the correlation between the thoughts in my head and what ends up on the page is a lot closer to 1:1. This is good in one sense: When I write by hand the process doesn’t prevent me from putting into words what I already know. It might be bad in another sense: My ideas as they come straight out of my head aren’t necessarily my best ideas; it’s possible that all the reconfiguring I do on the computer produces more sophisticated thoughts and better forms of expression. I don’t know.

Writing by hand also alters the relationship between forming a thought and recording it in words. When I write by hand I almost always form a complete sentence in my head before I write it down. When I write on the computer I tend to start typing at the onset of an idea or a sentence that I then figure out how to complete during the process of recording it.

Put another way, my process for writing sentences by hand looks like this:

THINK THINK THINK THINK WRITE WRITE WRITE WRITE

Whereas my process for writing sentences on the computer looks like this:

THINK WRITE THINK DELETE THINK WRITE THINK DELETE THINK WRITE…

(thanks to David for the tip)

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