Creative Writing, Made by Hand

While in the midst of your creative writing, you might find that you’re feeling a little less than ingenious. The screen is blank…or riddled with repetitive, stale concepts. You’re beginning to find yourself growing rigid and pecky, not unlike the machine you use to compose prose that should be fluid and picturesque.

I’d like to propose an exercise that might shake loose that melodious voice within you. But, beware:  it may only work if you’re older than 30-ish.

It’s writing in your own hand…using cursive.

If you’ve ever had your cursive handwriting analyzed, you’ve probably gathered that the more your style departs from the standard, the more creative and rebellious you might be. If your penmanship borders on artwork, you simply must break out the tablet and pen to continue the composition of that stuck story.

When written words are crafted with pen-in-hand, the gates to multiple branches of creativity are swung open. The circular nature and sweeping lines help to infuse themes such as completeness, warmth, and infinite relevance. The connectivity of the letters promotes story continuity. The absence of sharp angles frees you from plot commitment. When the writing is effected on un-lined paper, the absence of boundaries like margins and auto-return leave your thought processes open for wandering into new territory. A favorite writing utensil cuts out discomfort distractions and encourages continuance (the equivalent of more ideas). Your unique handwriting style feeds your unique writer’s voice.

As most of you know, cursive is going the way of hoopskirts and handlebar mustaches. Modern communication doesn’t call for it. Standardized testing in schools only requires that children read, not write. Outrage has been expressed at the cutting of art and music from elementary repertoire — but the death of their artistic cousin, handwriting, has also embarked upon the inhalation of its last breath.

Often, the most elegant handwriting departs from our second grade teachers’ rules, while still being legible. The most effective, yet inventive, creative writing tests the boundaries of literary protocol while still accomplishing the hierarchy of story. Melding the two makes sense…particularly for the writer whose creativity has stalled.

If you find that this method improves your creative writing, don’t wait for stalemate next time. Instead, design your plot on paper, with beautifully written keywords that capture your story’s theme. Expand upon them with sentences that are as liquid as the lines that craft them. Capture the obsolete: for hand-made and head-made elegance in both creation and in product.


5 responses to “Creative Writing, Made by Hand

  1. “sentences as liquid as the lines that craft them”

    Oh, that’s very good.

    I myself compose in longhand, edit on the computer. One of my very favorite writers — the late Karl Shapiro — said in an interview that he was “suspicious” of poets who composed at their keyboards. This made sense to me, I’m not entirely sure why.

    I’m intrigued by your interest in graphology. Tell me: Is your handwriting completely cursive? Or do you combine cursive and printing (printscript, so-called)? Does your signature look the same as the rest of your writing? Is your writing — including your signature — very legible?

    I’m only curious. If it’s too personal, ignore it, please.

    And merry Christmas.


    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Ray. I never print unless the form calls for it. My writing and my signature are very legible and I don’t like to rush. Even when I’m drafting something or recording research, I’m not really happy unless I’m making an effort to keep it beautiful (Uptight? Probably). My handwriting is very feminine — the kind a guy would never have (and interestingly, my cursive is way more feminine than I am). There is a noted difference between my handwriting and my signature. The dynamics of my signature are more dramatic, but it’s still very legible. I’ve had my handwriting analyzed and have been told that my spirit feels trapped and that my facade is much more bold than my interior (I’d consider this to be pure bull if it didn’t ring of truth).

  2. Pingback: Too Sexy for My Words… Not yet! « AURORA MOREALIST ©2011 ~ Writer

  3. Dear Jacinda,

    Thank you for following my blog, Ironwoodwind.

    My cursive signature is beautiful because of repeated practice. Whenever I try to write anything longer the lines fall off on the right side of the page and there are frequent mistakes. Your post has me thinking about writing one page a day in cursive, if for no other reason than to challenge myself to be able to do it. Might make Mrs. Brown, my third grade teacher, roll over in her grave.

    Looking forward to reading more here.



    • Doug –

      Let me know how that goes. I believe that some writers are liberated by the handwriting method, while others find it frustrating. I’ll be interested to learn how it works for you.

      Read You Soon,

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