The Powerful Practice of Writing by Hand

Laura van den Burg in The Atlantic:

“But when I can, I try to get up fairly early, when the sun’s still rising, when email is quiet, and when much of the world is still asleep. You’re still a bit closer to the dream space of sleep, and the part of the mind that fiction comes from feels a little more accessible. All the weird jellyfish that floated closer to the surface of thought while I’ve been asleep are more available. When I invite them to show themselves, they do. And I think those jellyfish would be pushed down by the demands of the day if I waited until late afternoon or evening to try to write.

Even if I’m not able to generate real pages on a given day, I do handwrite every morning. It’s something I started to do on book tour, or on particularly busy days during the semester, just as a way to stay connected to my work and keep generating imaginatively. Some mornings, I open my notebook and think: Okay, there’s nothing here. I have nothing to write about. But I just keep at it. It’s a practice, and I believe in the power of practice. And it’s the most amazing thing: Something always comes out. The matter of story always comes up. I have a line, and then I have another line, and then I’m off. Even if it’s just a few short paragraphs, something has been committed to the page. Some kind of mark has been made.”