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  • Luke

How I "Write"

The blank sheet, the white void, begs for scribbles and meaning. That is where the journey of a spontaneous thought begins, unleashed with the cursive strokes of my pen. The words may seem to have become static on the white sheet, but they keep bouncing inside my head and heart. A shower of words is how I describe it. My right hand is like a tap; it allows me to unleash the flow of words onto the sheet from the vessel that is my mind and heart.

Truman Capote once said, “That’s not writing; That’s just typing”, to criticise Jack Kerouac's work. I have always found a different meaning in this quote. I think there is a fundamental difference between the process of typing and writing. You write when you produce a physical copy with a pen and paper, but typing on the other hand is when your fingers chatter along a keyboard on a gadget. Writing gives you a pure connection with and representation of your real train of thought. You can scribble, you can draw, you can annotate whatever you like. It is just a free-flowing form of expression. It feels intimate to write in your handwriting, especially when you write for others. It is pure, it is carefree and it is beautiful. It has a prototypical elegance that is unmatched. Furthermore, once you write you can’t unwrite it unless you physically destroy the paper or strike out the line to the point of intelligibility. Despite physical tampering or damage, your written specimen still exists. Those ashes, crumpled balls or chaotic strikethroughs persist as a symbol of the effectively unwritten.

Typing doesn’t give you that. You can simply delete, diffuse and edit your expression without a history. You always try to refine it when you type. It feels too complete and polished in that 12 points, times new roman look (stealing that phrase from Chuck Palahniuk). It feels quite impersonal, lacks some sort of colourful identity that handwriting gives it. Compared to writing, typing feels rigid and too formal. Perhaps the act of typing on a computer or a phone triggers us to not tinker around with our thoughts to the same extent as writing. However, I must remark that all typing experiences aren’t like that. A typewriter is completely different from the modern typing that I have just described. A typewriter is somewhat of a hybrid between writing and typing (conveniently, just like its name suggests). It still has those wonderful qualities of a written draft alongside the bland qualities of typed text.

The dichotomy that I’ve tried to express is only valid for those first drafts. Typing is an inevitable act that any individual that wants to distribute their writing has to go through. This blog post started as a shower thought and then became a written manuscript in one of my notebooks. Once I was ready with a draft and a structure, I started typing away on my laptop. This write-first, then-type methodology has helped me become more clear and expressive with what I’ve wanted to write. When I write poetry, I strictly stray away from typing. It is a practice that preserves a certain purity of what I’ve written.

In conclusion, I want to convey that this is based on my own personal experience. Some of you readers may not agree with me due to your differing ideologies and writing styles. Some of you practitioners of practicality may have completely abandoned handwriting, and this post may seem too conservative. Despite what you all may think, I’ve only tried to describe my thoughts and feelings about this form of expression I’ve come to hold so dearly. As the world moves towards cementing alternatives in the form of typing or digital writing, I for one will always cherish my fountain pens and notebooks to initiate my written expression.


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