Writing by hand for a limited amount of time seems to work much better than writing for an unlimited amount of time on a computer. The delete button and no limitation are the two things can stop experience and give it too much drag-weight to move though time gracefully. These two things allow you to ‘fix’ something that doesn’t even exist yet. We’re editing the experience before we even have the experience. It’s madness but it’s something most of us now do without question. We believe it’s the way to write. Even as I type these words I find myself going back and editing sentences before they are even finished. The delete button is irresistible. And also the speed of typing is irresistible as is the ‘finished’ look of typewritten words. Who wants to give up the ability to take every action back? It’s a recent kind of super power we don’t have anywhere else in our lives.
This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (especially w/r/t my recent forays into teaching writing); I feel like I can get a lot more unfiltered stuff down on the page when I’m writing in longhand, although the atrophying of my writing muscles (because really when do I practice, unless I’m writing out a deposit slip?) makes it hard to do so for too lengthy of a period. At Lynda’s class each free-writing exercise was limited to eight minutes. (She talks about how she structures those eight minutes right before this bit — basically she lets people know that time is ticking at the five-minute and seven-minute marks, which often results in the story being structured with a midpoint and an ending because the “ok, wrap it up” light in students’ heads goes on.)
Anyway, as expected, this whole interview is amazing and heartbreaking and I hope she is giving another class sometime soon because I think going would be good for my soul.