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When was the Last Time You Wrote by Hand?

By 19/02/2019writing
Writing by hand

Writing by handWriting by hand is one of the ways I get back into a story I haven’t looked at for a while, so that’s what I’m doing these days.

It is a good feeling, writing by hand. There’s something more organic, visceral about it–it feels like I’m using my body to write, which isn’t entirely true: I’m using a pen, which is a device much as a laptop is, but there’s a pleasure in connecting finger to letter on the page.

Old-fashioned writing by hand has many benefits: it relieves stress, helps express feelings, reinforces memory. I used to write letters to other bloggers, but that has gone by the wayside–life, writing, and volunteering have taken over.

I was wondering if anyone would be interested in exchanging letters/ postcards? It does take a bit of effort, but it feels good to receive real letters in the post box, instead of just bills and flyers.

I’d also encourage everyone to write by hand to others, because in a world of emails and texts, a handwritten note is special.

Do you write to others by hand? If you’re a writer, do you ever write any of your work by hand? Whether you’re a reader or a writer, would you like to exchange letters with me? When was the last time you wrote by hand?


Valentine’s Day Blogathon: Show the Love, Save a SchoolI’m hosting the Valentine’s Day Blogathon from Feb 14-28 to save a remarkable little school in an underprivileged community of New Delhi. Please join in.

Please also consider chipping in a small amount to the fundraiser by the teachers: as a reader and a writer, I feel strongly about schools.

If you do too, I can assure you they deserve your support.

——–

We Are the World Blogfest Writing by handThis is also the We are the World Blogfest week. If you’re not part of the WAWTB family, where we share positive stories on blogs and social media, please sign up here!

Here’s a sampler of this blogfest. Click here to know more.

Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of February 22, 2019!


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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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114 Comments

  • amychrisdiy says:

    Writing by hand is a great way to practice mindfulness and worth through tricky or uncomfortable thoughts! Thanks for reminding me to take some time to write by hand!

  • Tejas says:

    The last time I wrote with my hand was for my MA finals. They have a mandate that you should write with hands both assignments and papers. Other than the poor handwriting, I think I enjoyed and I intend to keep going.

  • To be able to use a pen and paper to communicate will be such a wonderful opportunity. My only worry while writing is how to hide the spelling mistakes..perhaps!
    I am also an active philatelist …one of the last few of a soon to be extinct hobbyist. That’s added incentive to use the postal service.

  • chr1 says:

    A check, maybe? Actually, I keep a notebook full of half-formed poetry. The rest is online…

  • dweezer19 says:

    Recently. If I want to work on my novel during lunch I have to use longhand since I don’t carry my laptop with me to work.

  • Vinitha says:

    Oh yeah, I love writing by hand. I do every day. Especially my gratitude journal. Receiving letters is such a wonderful experience. I think I was the one who sent the maximum number of letters to my school friends during my college days as I did my college away from hometown. My friends were so lazy to write. 🙂 I would love to exchange letters with you, Damyanti. <3

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    I keep writing by hand almost everyday, when I write my plans or find info I need to share on my blog/social media. I have a diary which is like a planner, so my monthly blog posts, plans for the next month, topics to write on, everything related to blogging, actually, I write in it. Yes, sometimes when the handwriting comes out fine, it feels god writing by hand, but sometimes, the hand is too tired to pay attention to the handwriting and that’s when I just scribble stuff which is (thankfully) legible 😛

    I, too, used to write letters to my cousins and pen pals, ages ago. And, those used to be such long letters, with pictures and stuff drawn, too. Oh, how I miss those good old days!

  • macjam47 says:

    Oh, I am guilty for sure. It has been so long since I’ve done any kind of writing by hand and my handwriting is showing it. What was once a beautiful cursive is now looking a bit sad.

  • Parul Thakur says:

    Every Rakshabandhan I send letters with my Rakhi to my brother and cousins. It’s something I started doing a couple of years ago and i love it. My Mum also sends me a letter every year on my birthday and I cherish them so much.

  • pdlyons says:

    almost everything i have ever written was done first by hand. most often once more by hand then entered in word file and final edit there. There have been times when i have written directly to the blog posts and that is often pleasant as it is so free.

  • Nanditha says:

    I still send postcards, greeting cards and hand-written notes when I send gifts to my friends and loved ones. I wish I was less dependent on my computer to write things. 🙂

  • Simon says:

    I would like to write by hand more, it’s been a while since I’ve done it properly.

  • I love to write by hand though the opportunities to do so have got reduced to a great extent and I have to forcefully create a reason to do that. I had written by hand around two weeks back.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    I used to write so much… Letters, diaries, and send postcards too. But then I stopped because others won’t reply back ? They moved to emails and so did I. The charm of writing by hand is unparalleled. It is also a reason why I don’t want to do lettering or drawing on devices. But use my hand no matter how messy the outcome is. ?

  • I too love to write with pen . Don’t know how but when I write by hand I able to describe something better and the best thing is I am a student that’s why I always write with pen but as a blogger too I have to use keyboard too but I use to write in pen after that I type the same in keyboard .

  • Mahevash says:

    Writing by hand feels good in small doses and can also help get rid of writer’s block.

  • rolandclarke says:

    I used to write a lot by hand but those days are. gone. Now my handwriting is a scrawl, even more illegible than when I interviewed people with a notepad as a journalist. Blame multiple sclerosis. Even typing on a keyboard is hard – this is mainly one handed now as my left becomes a claw. Audio is my future – except my tongue stumbles. lol

  • I have terrible hand writing. I grew up in an era where they taught cursive and printing, and I never really got the hang of either. My writing is a combination of the two, and I was ever so grateful when I got to 7th or 8th grade and the teachers stopped caring about exact lettering and worried more about if it was legible and spelled correctly. I still prefer to type. So much more readable and easier to correct. Most of my hand written notes have eraser holes in them, lol.

    But I do miss sending and getting letters in the mail. Can I type them to you?

  • When I write stories, 99% of it is with a pencil (mechanical or otherwise) on yellow lined paper. Maybe it’s weird or old fashioned or both, but it slows me down enough to work through the idea before it hits the page. I like pencil because I can edit on the go without making a complete mess of the page.

  • Mayur says:

    Last in exam

  • ccyager says:

    Right now, I’m doing revision work by hand on my second novel. I usually write the first draft of screenplays by hand. I sorely miss receiving real letters, handwritten, in the mail! It does take a lot of effort to write them, which makes them all the more valuable and meaningful. I also write my journal by hand. Writing longhand forces me to slow down, to think about each word as I’m forming the letters on the page with a pen. I love watching the ink form the letters on the paper!

  • Tom Fitch says:

    I used to write everything by hand in the time when PC’s were still desktops. Even had an entire system to reference handwritten reviews when proofreading print-outs of previous versions.

    Laptop and tablets have changed that though. I know do almost everything directly on the PC.

    Professionally, I still handwrite when taking notes in a meeting or when reviewing draft agreements or letters. I write my comments or suggested changes down in handwriting. Mainly because I dislike reading long documents on screen.

    Problem is that my handwriting has gotten so sloppy that by times even I do not manage to read what I have scribbled down… May need some work there.

    Tom

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I do most of my work on PC, but definitely take handwritten notes, do a some journaling by hand, and now have taken to writing letters to blog friends who have agreed to exchange letters with me after this post.

  • I write all first drafts by hand. And any major revisions. For some reason, I can’t type straight out of my head. It’s like sculpting with oven mitts.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I used to do that for all my short stories. Somehow can’t get myself to do it for my novels.

  • I always write my reviews by hand. It helps me to wrap my thoughts and it is calming in the same time. I can say I prefer it than writing on my laptop.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I think writing by hand is good, for all those reasons. I wish I could write the novel draft by hand, but the amount of text scares me.

  • pjlazos says:

    Everyday in my journal! xo

  • jr cline says:

    Almost every day.

  • DJ Cockburn says:

    I write all my first drafts by hand, but I’ve given up on handwritten letters because no one can read my handwriting except me!

  • ideasflyhigh says:

    All my first thoughts generally go in my journal, something I carry everywhere. Writing in a diary or a journal is something I love doing and comes to me quite spontenously. And in this world of online stuff and technology, writing with pen and paper makes it an invaluable treasure.

    I am in for writing letters (that’s something I haven’t done in a long time) and receiving the (joy of) letters…

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I don’t carry my writing journal, it is too big and tedious. I tend to save my thoughts for my fiction–most of my journal is about my writing, with a few glimpses about my life.

      Sure, let me send you an email on the id you left with your comment, and we can take it form there!

  • Every year, I make it a point to send friends postcards during the festive season and didn’t know u love it, too. I prefer the old ways and do mail me ur address Damyanti, if you would like to receive. The last time I penned something was yesterday in a diary and also keep an agenda diary. Pens and paper quite active on my table.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s so good to know! And yep, I shall send you my address on the id you left me in the comments!

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    I’ve started a written journaling practice – again. I find it a lot easier to process things when I’m writing by hand. Somehow, writing on the laptop or phone/tablet just doesn’t have the same connect.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Sunjhini, you’re so right! Writing on the comp feels cold by comparison.

  • I agree with you! Writing by hand definitely has its charm and benefits. My first ever online article was on writing love letters (https://theliteraryfolly.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/why-dont-we-write-love-letters-anymore/) and I was afraid to publish it at first because I thought people nowadays would reject it or find it “backward”, but surprisingly, a lot of people have been sharing it and I even received messages from people I didn’t know telling me that my article inspired them to write love letters again!

    Thank you for publishing this bit on writing by hand and I love how you engage the writing community!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Francine, and I’ll go read your post now. Yes, love letters were such a beautiful, natural part of the past. What’s replaced them, I wonder? Texts? email?

  • I write myself motivational notes by hand, or when I feel like I need to get something out of my head, I grab my notebook and pen and write it down.

  • That’s an interesting question. I found to my joy back when desktops and laptops came onto the market that I could type faster than I could write and as speed is the need when you’re doing office work and travelling I haven’t written anything except my signature since that time. Still find the keyboard is my fastest way to get ideas down and an additional plus is you can rearrange words quickly to make stories and poetry come to life much easier than if you write script. I would doubt any university would accept a hand written thesis in this age. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      keyboard is my fastest way to get ideas down and an additional plus is you can rearrange words quickly

      Absolutely. I can’t imaging writing 800,000 words by hand. That’s how many I wrote during the drafting of my first book.

  • I do jot down ideas on paper but it has been decades since i have written an actual letter. This year, I started a diary of sorts again focusing only on happy moments… I guess there is a slight reservation with the same fear that was there back when i was a teenager – whether others will find it and read it all

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s a huge fear, isn’t it? Diaries leave us so vulnerable.

  • Esha M Dutta says:

    I love writing by hand even though it is slowly going out of our lives! My daily to-do lists, the doodling while at the table or at my desk, the little scribbles here and there, but yes, it is true, long hand written letters that were an essential part of our lives are almost gone now. Not sure if I could continue writing that way any more even though it feels great to imagine that today. I’d love to join in the #WATWB this week and of course, the Blogathon too. Happy Wednesday dear Damyanti and a beautiful rest of the week to you! 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yep, long hand-written letters are a thing of the past. I remember writing 7 page letters home, and receiving back even longer notes from family and friends.

      Thank you for your support of the Blogathon and the WATWB, Esha. So grateful to have friends like you. Your kind gift sits at my study table, by the way, as I type.

  • I sent a handwritten note to friends today. I always write notes and diary entries by hand, but arthritis in my hands keeps me from writing for more than short periods of time.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Your friends must appreciate you! Sorry your arthritis doesn’t allow you to write for long stretches.

  • miriamspia says:

    I’m willing to try letters or post cards. I have also used some ‘writing by hand’ recently although I couldn’t be more grateful for the gift of having learned to type!!!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Lovely! I’ll write to you on the email you have used to comment. If you don’t hear from me in a day or two, ping me here!

  • BellyBytes says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you ! Perhaps the only time I write by hand these days is when I do my daily accounts …. but lack of regular hand writing has made it a scrawl instead of the once beautiful cursive that I used to write in. Honestly , writing is not so hard what is , is posting the letter !

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Daily accounts? Hmmm…never done any of that! You’re right though, posting the letters tends to be a chore.

      International letters need to go to the post office, and that’s a short train ride away for me. I used to gather a few to post before actually posting them.

  • Widdershins says:

    I used to but, arthritis. 😀

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Oh no. Sorry to hear that. Glad typing allows you to write.

  • I have a writers journal which I use frequently, all written by hand. Its great for getting the ideas out when they’re right there, spilling out of my mind and can spill out on the paper so easily. I never thought of it as a stress reliever, but I do agree it reinforces the memory and everything seems to flow effortlessly instead of staring at the blank page with the flashing cursor.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I maintain a writer’s journal as well–though very sporadically. I mean to be more regular. Writing with a fountain pen helps me loosen up, I’m not sure why. maybe because I wrote with those as a kid?

      • I remember making a mess with those haha. It’s funny how certain things from our childhood brings comfort. I’m not regular with mine either. However, it’s close by when the mood strikes.

  • msw blog says:

    I journal behind and it makes me feel so connected to the moment. A blogger I follow has requested her readers send her a postcard you should check her out
    https://juliehcares.com/2019/02/18/i-am-doing-well/

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I will, thankyou! I do creative journaling–documenting my progress (or lack of it) on a novel as I write it.

  • I’m a longhander by nature. There are always notebooks of scribbles lying in every corner of my life. Some stories need to be typed from the get-go, but pen and paper always give my work a better flow.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s so cool! I used to be like that, but no longer. Nowadays I take notes on paper, but all actual writing happens on the comp.

  • I love getting and sending handwritten letters, but I also use handwriting when I’m thinking up new stories. For some reason handwriting allows the imagination more freedom. Maybe because I can write in the margins and between the lines. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I love writing and receiving letters as well, though that’s stopped for a while now. Hope to renew it!

      I get my initial novel-related ideas handwritten on the page. Most actual story writing happens on the comp.

  • I write all my first drafts by hand, as well as notes and lists of things that need doing, but sadly I write very few letters. Email is so much more convenient, it’s that or nothing, aside from birthday and other cards. Somehow I haven’t made the transition to e-cards!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Me neither–no e-cards for me! I used to make greeting cards by hand for birthdays–alas, no longer.

  • JT Twissel says:

    I can no longer write by hand. An old wrist injury. When I first started writing – eons ago – I wrote stories by hand which I still have.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry about your injury–great that typing allows you the joys of writing. So cool that you have your handwritten stories. I myself have tons of notebooks stuffed in cupboards, all filled with my handwriting.

  • setinthepast says:

    I prefer to write birthday and Christmas cards by hand, and I love getting handwritten letters, which rarely happens these days … but my handwriting is awful! It never used to be so bad, and I think it’s deteriorated because we type everything these days. I write things for myself by hand all the time, but rarely for other people.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Well, yeah–legibility has gone down with less practice in written communication.

      Handwritten letters have a charm all their own, and I hope to exchange some with those interested after reading this post 🙂

  • I used to write stories by hand first, but NaNo switched me to computer only. I do hand write thank you cards, but otherwise I don’t write as my handwriting is atrocious.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      My handwriting is passable, but I seem to spend too much time writing on the comp. This post was an attempt to examine that. I’m ending up typing so many comments, though.

  • bahelberg1 says:

    I’ve never stopped writing by hand. Most of my first drafts are written by hand. And I have to say, I was appalled when many schools stopped teaching (cursive) writing skills!!! I’m 73-years-old; handwriting is much too much a part of me to abandon! I loved your post and especially your letter-writing suggestion, Damyanti !!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Can’t imagine writing a first draft by hand!

      Would love to correspond with you, if you like.

  • Peter Nena says:

    I can’t write with my hand. After a few lines, it hurts to continue writing. If I go on writing despite the restraining pain, my hand freezes over the page. It started in 2008 when I was still a student. Sometimes I am given a form to fill with a pen; after every box I have to rest my hand. I can’t write a long paragraph.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry to hear that. I used to get that as a teen, but then it went away by itself. Can be quite painful!

  • eleniaturner says:

    I do a lot of writing by hand. Sometimes I’ll sit down at the computer to get something written down and I realise I can’t, because the story doesn’t want to be tapped out on a laptop. I recently kick started an old idea by writing out everything I had by hand and taking it from there. I’m a terrible correspondent, but I do enjoy sending and receiving handwritten letters and postcards.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, when I’m stuck on the laptop, I take to coloured pens and paper! Love handwritten letters and postcards, too!

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I tend to write on the machine and prefer it … yet I take notes by hand and if I was studying then I’d transcribe them by hand. My writing letters has faded since my mother died – when I communicated with everyone – now I do what comes along … but must write to a few friends in Canada … so I’d love to drop some notes to you … my handwriting for my own use is very maggoty! – but I do make an effort when I write to someone else … so yes if you’d like to connect … I’ll hear from you – cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry to hear of the loss of your mother–there’s something comforting about corresponding with one’s parents.

      Would love to receive letters from you. Shall mail you my address, and ask you for yours!

  • I do a lot of my writing by hand. I even write my lesson plans in a note book before putting it on the PC. I just seem to be able to think better that way.

  • I love writing letters by hand. My cousin and I still send cards filled with handwritten notes each birthday and Christmas. There’s a sensory memory attached and I enjoy the quiet, personal nature of it.

  • StuHN says:

    I do a lot of my preliminary writing outside of the house, so I always carry a journal/notepad with me. My backpack is my traveling office: pens, writing pad, couple of folders (printouts of stories I went to edit some more), a book to read, and charging equipment for my cell phone. It can be confusing at times, with all my crossing out/changes, but, yes, it is a visceral feeling. It’s first draft at it’s messiest.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      My pre-writing is by hand, too. As is my writing journal. Somehow, I can’t get myself to draft a novel by hand. Some day.

  • I do it all the time. I have a medical condition that makes it painful for me to type. So I write everything out longhand and then dictate it with software that doesn’t quite behave as well as the publisher would want you to believe, but it still saves me a lot of hassle. Meanwhile, I’m writing with a pencil, pushing the thoughts out before I have time to censor them, and I understand a little bit of what we’ve lost through technology, much as I love what my computer can do.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So sorry you have such difficulty in typing, and thank you for such a long comment despite your challenges. I’ve tried dictation when I had back problems and couldn’t sit up, but all I managed was gobbledygook.

  • Yes, there is an essence in writing by hand on paper and you can realize it deeply if you are using keyboard and paper both.
    Sometime me and my sister send greetings cards to the closed relatives by writing wishes like we used to do earlier.
    My connection with writing on paper is still attached, i write down my shayris in my diary and on the other hand i have the habit of writing diary(daily journal).

  • Koushik Das says:

    Concur… a ‘lost’ art!

  • Rosie Amber says:

    I don’t write as much as I would like to, but last year I challenged myself to find a new penpal.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s well done, Rosie. I’m hoping to find a new penpal or two, myself.

  • I also write by hand every day, most of my pieces start curled up on the couch, pen in hand, blocks of thoughts, sometimes things are crossed out but the first draft is always by hand.
    “Sand in the sandbox, come back later to build the sandcastle” I carry a small notebook with me also and when a story idea comes I jot it down by hand. The computer is for the final sorting and editing.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      This is so cool. I used to do this, but nowadays, I sketch out a novel on paper but type it out on the comp.

  • laurenlola says:

    I write ALL the time by hand. Last time was last night.

  • Ok. I’ll show my age here. Last time I wrote a story by hand was to test out of taking any writing courses in college. We didn’t use computers back then. It was a decent story, knocked it out in an hour, but testing out of writing in college was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Writing wasn’t required for my major (agronomy at the time) but I look back and realize how much I would have benefited. And my penmanship is not that great.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Writing does have its benefits (though you woudn’t know that from the bags under my eyes these days that I’m drafting a novel.) My penmanship is legible, but tends to have flourishes. That’s my handwriting in the graphic. 🙂

  • pennyfrances says:

    I last wrote by hand this morning, sketching out ideas for a new story. I tend to use my notebook for exploring ideas before a piece has a proper shape. As soon as I’ve sketched out a structure, I hit the keyboard, but the notebook certainly feels write for the early stages. As for writing to other people by hand, I’m afraid it doesn’t go much further than a hasty note on a Christmas card these days (though I do try to make my cards by hand) – email and social media are just so much quicker, and I do find I keep in touch with people I rarely see better with these tools. Thanks for the blog, always interesting. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Love that you sketch out story ideas by hand, as do I. You make Christmas cards by hand? Kudos!

  • I write by hand everyday. How do I write to you? I loved your post and the idea.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s wonderful to hear!

      Would love to hear from you. I’ll send you an email on the id you’ve posted with the comment, and we’ll take things from there.

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