I still start out writing almost everything I do by hand in a Moleskine notebook. It’s played an integral role in connecting with my voice as a writer. I never start the day in front of the computer. I began each day with pen and paper.
In an age when everything is in the cloud and there’s a thousand apps that yo could use to write, that might seem ridiculous. But there’s something about writing in a notebook that you just can’t get from typing away at a million miles an hour.
Writing by hand gives you an opportunity to pause between sentences and paragraphs, between ideas and their execution, between stimulus and response.
You can actually hear the sound of your own voice uninterrupted by pings, dings, status updates, and notifications.
I pause between bites of my chocolate croissant and sips of my coffee. I wonder for a moment, what would my doctor think of this clearly unhealthy choice for breakfast? And I start crafting my defense. It’s called Renaud’s, a coffeeshop in Santa Barbara that makes amazing pastries. And it’s across the street from my friend’s apartment where I’m busy writing a book, or as Dani Shapiro would say “putting the shape of my soul between the covers.” I realize the shape of my soul won’t fit between the covers and I won’t fit into my pants if I keep eating these damn croissants. But believe me you’d do the same if you had one bite.
Of course I’ll often look down at what I’ve written and attempt to decipher what I’ve said. I’ve finally become ok with destroying a moleskine with my chicken scratch. It’s a beautiful mess in which I can’t count on the backspace button, online thesaurus or spellcheck.
When you write by hand it’s easier to get raw, uncensored, and unfiltered.
You can put your deepest, darkest, and most delicious thoughts between the covers of every notebook, even if it’s hardly legible (which might be better in case you have any plans to run for office and you’ve taken skeletons out of your close at and put them in your notebook).
When you use a computer to write, you are limited by what our word processing tool can do. You can type, edit, change font sizes, etc, etc. You can do so many things things that have nothing to do with writing. But when you write by hand all you’re limited by is what your imagination can do. The team at Moleskine doesn’t make notebooks. What they’re giving people is a platform for your imagination.
And what you’ll find is that writing by hand is meditative, therapeutic and in the long run will make you a much better writer. Try it sometime.
I’m the host of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, currently writing 2 books, and apparently love chocolate croissants.