Writing fast, writing slow and the art of living imperfectly


Do you remember a time before the tweet, before the text, even before fingers gave way to thumbs, when writing was all about the flow or the scratch of pen on paper? In this day and age, you can write fast. Or you can write slow. Neither way to write is better than the other.

Writing fast. Writing often helps me escape into the moment, completely. Typing at the keyboard is my preferred mode of writing these days. It’s the easiest way for my hand to keep up with my thoughts. I don’t need to worry about going back to decipher my somewhat arachnoid hand afterwards. But I also still write by hand (for example in the picture below, taken and tweeted by my friend Kate Griffiths-Lambeth while I was lost in frantic note-taking at a recent conference).


Writing slow. The handwritten note, the letter, the very act of handwriting itself, is increasingly a minority pursuit. But it’s not licked yet.

In the past fortnight I’ve been delighted to receive two new books (The Humane Workplace by Amanda Sterling, and Note to Self, by Bryan Wempen) written by people I first met via Twitter, but have also had the delightful privilege to meet in real life on their respective visits to London. Amanda and Bryan were each thoughtful enough to include handwritten dedications in their books. And Mr Wempen took things a step further, with the rather excellent post-it note depicted at the top of this post.

I live imperfectly
“I live imperfectly,” writes Bryan. This is a perfect and humble summation of how all of us live. “Lessons for me happen all day long,” he says. “I am definitely human – total garden variety. I make mistakes.” Bryan’s book is a beautiful and brief collection of short “notes to self,” pointers to help him live better, to “manage life on life’s terms,” shared with us in case they might help us do the same. Reading it for the first time, I was particularly taken with his idea of “ghost images” of ourselves that we cling to for comfort, long after we have evolved past them, and by his short note about – of all things – not procrastinating about laundry. It’s the kind of book where next time I read it, completely different lessons will emerge.

Both books are wonderful to start with. The handwritten notes make them a thousand times more special still.

The handwritten tweet
By pure and lovely coincidence, I’ve seen tweets aplenty on the topic of handwriting this past week – some of them even handwritten. Could the handwritten tweet microtrend qualify as (what people more averse in such matters than I might term) a meme? Regard if you will the Storify below, and judge for yourself.

Who knows wherever all this handwriting stuff could all go next? Maybe some kind of bleeding-edge social network for sending and receiving paper-based handwritten communications? It’ll probably never catch on…

Writing fast and writing slow. Which works best for you? Please do get in touch and let me know.

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