Thursday, 14 March 2013

Write Handed Thinking

I follow the writer Anne Rice on Facebook. Putting her wonderful books aside, she often offers informative and well balanced advice for writers. This is what drew me to her page initially but what she also shares through her Facebook page are some truly insightful questions and topics.

Today, she wrote this,

"Question: almost all writers today use two hands to write - drawing on the left and right side of the brain. This is after thousands of years of one hand (one side of the brain) writing. Why is it no one is studying this and what effects it might have on writing?... I'm asking how have keyboards influenced artists? Not just writers, but musicians who compose on the piano? And for the piano? Anyone else curious about this?"

As a trained typist, typing with both hands is second nature to me. I've been using this skill since my early twenties. Before that I was trained to use both hands to play piano. I'm typing this article now using both my left and right hand. Does this affect my writing or am I simply transcribing the thoughts that have already been created and edited in whatever part of my brain creates those kind of thoughts?

According to this article in the Huffington Post, writing by hand "uses more complex brain power" than typing on a keyboard does. In my own experience, the writing I do by hand is revised in my head mainly before I put pen to paper. When I type, I probably haven't thought through the words so extensively and hence most of the revision happens on screen. This is backed up by another article, Hardwired for Writing which suggests that writing by hand encourages a 'flow' of writing whereas typing is more of a stop start process.

My daughter is right handed. My son is left handed. Both create wonderful stories, whether typed up or written down. The same goes for their artwork.

When I was a child, I spent several weeks in hospital. One of my injuries was a broken right arm. While it was in plaster, I couldn't write using my right hand. This was quite a few years before computers and tablets were available to me (okay, decades). If I wanted to write, it had to be with a pen or pencil. I used my left hand. The result was a scrawly, barely legible mess that looked as if I'd dictated it to a spider running through a pot of ink. I wrote nonetheless and the quality of my writing was none the worse for using my left hand.

I type because it's efficient to do so but I also know that, personally, my writing is of a much better quality when I write by hand using a pen and pad. I use my right hand to do this but my left hand is working too, holding the book, supporting my head. Maybe it's some other aspect of the process of writing by hand that improves my writing, my level of concentration or the intent of sitting down to write and only write.

The discussion on Anne Rice's page has thrown up very few answers but some interesting articles. You'll find the links to these articles at the end of this post.

What about you? What do you think?

Articles

Left Brain, Right Brain: An Outdated Argument - Yale Scientific
Why Does Writing Make Us Smarter? - Huffington Post
The left brain/right brain myth - CERI
Hardwired for Writing: The Intelligence of the Hand - Oak Meadow

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting. I usually end up handwriting some of my manuscripts. So I do a combination of both.

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