7:40 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to my upstairs neighbour trundling back and forth and Neil Diamond singing Be
Hello there. A thought. Maybe a couple, but I have been wanting to talk about this for a while. You may, or may not, have noticed that with every Tuesday Tryout exercise and prompt, and with the occasional Friday Freeforall prompts that I make suggestions for, that I tell you to list or jot, as part of the exercise. Note that I say ‘tell’. I don’t suggest, or ask. The jotting and listing are part of the exercise. If we were in a physical classroom, I would fix my beady eye on you and make sure that happens.
Why this insistence? Let’s look at the definitions of each word, particularly the bolded words and phrases:
Jot: to write or mark down quickly or briefly; the least part of something; a little bit — origin: 1526, borrowing of L. jota, variant spelling of Gk. iota “the letter -i-, the smallest letter in the alphabet, hence the least part of anything.
List: a series of names or other items written or printed together in a meaningful grouping or sequence so as to constitute a record: a list of members. Register. List, catalog, inventory, roll, schedule imply a definite arrangement of items. List denotes a group of names, items, or figures arranged in a row or rows: a list of groceries. Catalog adds the idea of alphabetical or other orderly arrangement, and, often, descriptive particulars and details: a library catalog. An inventory is a detailed descriptive list of property, stock, goods, or the like made for legal or business purposes: a store inventory. A roll is a list of names of members of some defined group often used to ascertain their presence or absence: a class roll. A schedule is a methodical (especially official) list, often indicating the time or sequence of certain events: a train schedule. from Dictionary.com
I would love to go through discussing each of the above bolded words and phrases and how and why they have much value, but this is already going to be long — you don’t know how hard I am reining myself in. Yes, my eyes are glowing with fervour.
If you go with the first thought, or idea, that comes into your head, you might lose something splendid. Granted you won’t know that, but for me that is a goad. Even going with your second, or third thought doesn’t work in quite the same way if you sit and think, as when you jot notes. The jotting allows the greatest computer of all, our brain, to search, find, sync, and bring forth. If you think Google is a mighty search engine, you are shorting your own. Granted, it’s a different type of search. But, because it is, it requires different methods, in this case the physical writing of notes that allow the brain time and a physical connection between what is in our heads and the paper. The act of writing, itself, is the electrical spark and the bridge.
North Carolina just voted to toss handwriting from its curriculum. Here’s what handwriting expert and analyst, Michelle Dresbold tells us, in today’s Wall Street Journal: Typing doesn’t help the brain develop as much as writing in longhand, a tactile means of expression with roots in scratching on cave walls. With typing, the fingers make repetitive movements rather than connect shapes. ‘It’s a very natural process to take a crayon or a rock and make symbols with your hand. It’s just bringing down things from your brain.’ Without that, ‘children are not thinking as thoroughly.‘(WSJ, 31 January, 2013 — The bolding is mine.)
Think of all the toddlers who pick up crayons, pens, chalk and ‘write’ with them on the walls.Why do you suppose this is a phase of development? They don’t know it’s not to be done. They know only this is what their brains tell them must be done. Does this mean our children are all doomed without handwriting? Of course not. But note what Dresbold says, that they won’t think as deeply, as thoroughly, as when their hands are physically making loops and curves.
Think of it this way, for your own writing. If you have a list you have choices. You also have a list for possible future poems. With a list, you are engaging your eyes, as well. As they look over what you are listing, your brain begins to spot threads, you might have been unaware of, to note connections, to think of things you had forgotten. Listing and jotting allow discovery and exploration, in a way that typing does not. Does this mean that all of you who write at the keyboard are doomed? Of course not. But… see above.
Whew! Thank you. I have been wanting to write this for some time, with the understanding that it will change few minds. I still needed to get it said. Yes, I handwrite all my blogs and every single poem . I start by jotting and listing. Arrows come into a lot, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.
I shall see you all tomorrow for the weekly roundup of prompts; Tuesday for a found prompt; and next Thursday for a couple of links [remember that you can send me things to add].
Happy writing, everyone.