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Seattle Times Columnist Writes Everything By Hand For Two Days

Monica Guzman wrote everything by hand for two days and photographed each piece of writing.

Monica Guzman wrote everything by hand for two days and photographed each piece of writing.

If you haven’t heard of Seattle Times columnist Monica Guzman‘s crazy experiment yet, I’m here to tell you that it’s more important than it may initially seem.

Guzman got to thinking about how much more “writing” humans do than ever before, and especially journalists, what with tweets and Facebook posts to write, reader comments to which to respond, stories, note-taking, transcribing and of course, the dreaded email.

“I wanted to get a more tactile feel for my share of this digital mother lode. So last week, I did something crazy. I wrote everything by hand,” she wrote (or typed?) for the Times.

She says she didn’t do it because she loves writing cramps and cursive.

“I did it to hack my brain. To make it slow down and notice the flurry of digital mutterings it writes and sends so easily, they barely register as mutterings at all.”

Guzman also invited her colleagues and friends to participate with her, noting how their work perspective changed when they wrote everything by hand instead of incessantly typing 8+ hours a day.

Some acknowledged that they spend so much time writing for administrative purposes that they don’t get to sit and just freewrite creatively, for fun. Others say that constantly writing into various streams makes it more difficult to write the piece you actually want to produce. Email is a time-robber, many said, and a third said their writing output is three times more than it was ten years ago.

The #whybyhand experiment led me to think about my own writing habits. For whatever reason, I view typing on my laptop as a form of work, but writing by hand a form of play, or leisure. In a way, I feel like my creativity and flow are stunted by a keyboard; sure, typing is faster and more convenient, but there is something special about pen to paper, flowing from your soul kind of writing. If I’m working on a personal essay or just journaling, you better believe I’m going to find a great notebook and pen. “Writing” on the computer often leaves me wanting more, feeling like the technology did all the work for me. I concurred with one person doing the experiment who said he just wanted to vacation from his tech so that he could get back to the art of writing.

On the other hand, the number of channels and platforms the web gives us gives non-journalists more opportunities than ever to express their thoughts, and helps to make new writers. That’s certainly not a bad thing.

You can read more about Guzman’s experiment here.

Would you be able to write everything by hand for two days without cheating? Are you able to produce your best work by hand or typing? Does the consistency with which you write make it harder for you to create something special? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @10000Words.

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