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Is a keyboard the enemy of unfiltered writing in a journal?

I had an interesting comment on one of my blog posts the other day about the issue of hand-writing journal entries versus entering words using a keyboard.

Here’s the comment/question:

Question – When you write (blog, essay, book or whatever) do you hand-write as you compose, or do you compose on the keyboard? Rarely, anymore do I compose by hand, but I do make notes and rough outlines on my legal pad. However, to edit myself I need a hard copy. My eye sees things on the printed page that are missed on the screen.


Here’s my response at the time:

It depends. On the blog, I am talking about the technique of hand-writing one’s thoughts as a way to tap into a sublevel of unfilteredness. I think maybe by utilizing the actual additional input of hand-writing, a person is forced to slow down and search a little deeper into his or her thoughts than one does on a keyboard. However, I seldom hand-write anything other than the journal entries because I know I intend to convert them to digital in the near term, and my handwriting is hard even for me to reconstruct after it gets cold.

I still stand by my response, but I note that it raises several questions. If the point of hand-writing the journal is to get closer to pure writing, writing that accurately drills into your soul and pulls words out kicking and screaming, wouldn’t that also be true if you apply it to words written to be shared? In other words, is the best approach always to hand-write first, even if you intend to convert the text to digital somewhere down the road?

The more I think about it, I believe hand-writing or keyboarding potentially accomplishes the same result of producing unfiltered writing. Both require inputs that take time and reflection.

But the kicker seems to be this notion of whether the words inputted are ever intended for the eyes of anyone except the author.

Maybe the way to go at this is to take things a step at a time. Begin journaling, writing only for yourself, inputting the words anyway you want, but focusing on the unvarnished truth and purity of the words as they come to you. If you find yourself self-editing, quit writing. The self-editing can only take you a step removed from the writing’s strength.

Then as you become comfortable (and more real ) with the writing process, see if you can apply the same power of expression to words which may eventually make their way to outsiders.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. So, please comment if you like.

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