Writing about writing

Handwriting vs. typing

The old debate rears its ugly head again:  handwriting vs. typing–especially in regards to journaling.  Which do you do?  Which do you prefer?  Why?

Over the years, I have read various articles debating the benefits of both handwriting and typing our journals.  I see and value both, truly.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the hoard of hand-written journals cluttered around my house as well as my office at school as well as my online Penzu journal account wherein I wrote more than 150,000 words in one year!

When I type my journal, I love typing my journal.  I love being able to use images in my journal.  Pictures are always just a click away and so easy to insert where I want them within my journal entry.  I can type pretty fast, so it takes me much less time to get down what I want to say when I type.  I also just love the feel of the keys under my fingers.  It’s almost like playing a piano, you know?  It’s just so cool how my fingers type what I want to say without my having to think about placement of my hands or fingers on the keys.  I’ve just been typing long enough now that my fingers do all the work without my having to think about it!


But wait a sec….the same is true when I hand-write something.  I’ve been writing since before I ever started school, so watching the words appear on the written page is pretty awesome because my hand (my fingers) with my pen (usually pink) is flying across the page faster than I can think the words.  I can write in pretty colors, like pink or purple!  (But when I type my journal, I can change my font to a pretty color, too.)  I do not hand-write as quickly as I type.  What may take me only minutes to type will typically take me at least three times as long by hand.  I do love the feel of my favorite pen in my hand and my notebook beneath as well as the sound of the scratching of my pen across the page.  And the smell of a journal is as sweet as the smell of a new book!  Plus, it’s so much fun to pick out a new notebook to use as a journal!  I actually just bought a new purple journal the other week that I can’t wait to fill in using my new purple pen!

So which is better?  Neither.  Both.  UGH!  When I’m typing, I love typing.  When I’m writing by hand, I love writing by hand!  So how to choose?

One major benefit of handwriting my journal is that I have my own personal handwriting on the written page.  When I am angry, it shows in my writing.  When I am sad, it shows.  You can literally see the smudges from my tears or the breaks when I’m frustrated or even the holes in the page where I’ve gotten so angry, I’ve smashed my pen through the paper.  My emotions are not only revealed by the words I put down on the page, but even more importantly by the actual look (physical appearance) of the words on the page.  The physical appearance of my hand-writing often says so much more than the words I wrote.

One negative of handwriting my journal is that I deal with carpal tunnel, so my right hand gets really sore when I write for long stretches–and yes, I typically write for no less than thirty minutes which can be interpreted as a long time in one sitting for a journal entry, I think.  I try to wear my brace, but if I write by hand a lot, even my hand brace doesn’t help.  I have even had to go to an orthopedic doctor to have cortisone shots in order to attempt to alleviate the pain in my wrist.  Being in pain makes it extremely difficult to keep writing by hand.

Another negative of writing by hand–and a major benefit of typing–is two-fold:  a digital copy of my journal is automatically created when I type my journal and I save a ton of space when typing rather than having a bunch of notebooks taking up shelf space in my home–or in my office.  I like being able to open last year’s online journal and search for an entry and find it at the stroke of a few keys.  With my hand-written journals, I have to try to remember which notebook I wrote in and then dig through every single page of the 100+ page of the notebook in an attempt to find what I might be looking for.

Several years ago, I wrote a story by hand.  Do you think I can find that story now?!  I KNOW I hand-wrote it.  I remember the emotions I was feeling as my hand flew across the page.  I remember how the story wrote itself because it was so powerful and meaningful for me.  It is driving me absolutely nutso that I can not find it!  I have searched through every single hand-written journal I have–that I can find….nothing!  UGH!  If I had typed it, the story would be in my database where I could do a quick search and find it!

Part of what makes that story so powerful in my memory, though, is the appearance of it on the written page.  I was in such an incredibly deep emotional state of despair when I wrote that story and it shows visibly on the page.  I think, more than anything else, that is why I want to find it.  If I had typed the story, I don’t know that I would have had the same powerful and memorable emotions in the writing of it.

So what have I chosen?  To type or to hand-write….Neither.  When I feel like typing my journal, I type it.  When I feel like writing by hand, I write by hand.  I might go months doing one over the other.  All I have to do now is figure out how to make my hand-written journals digital……!Handwriting_feature


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