“Topic of your choice.”

I sat at my cherrywood desk, staring at the block of digital text I had produced while attempting to analyze my personal connections to John Keats’ poem “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be”. I had read my essay three times over, and still had a hard time believing that any of what was on the computer screen was my own creation. It seemed almost… hollow, and more importantly, it didn’t represent my thoughts on this rather emotionally charged poem. Sighing, I set aside my laptop, and put pencil to paper.

To be clear, I do understand the appeal and practicality of typing. A typed paper is always neat, easy to read, professional, can be passed in digitally, and can be saved in digital form as backup. Typing can also be a real time-saver, which is especially attractive to a busy student who might consider writing papers out by hand to be a laborious hassle. Often I have been reminded by my parents and teachers that expediency and the preservation of valuable work time are important components of good work habits. But despite the extra time and effort I may waste working the way I do, there remains an entirely practical reason for my stubbornness: the caliber of my writing is invariably better when the writing process begins on paper. I have a clearer view of my ideas, and I become progressively more involved in my work, providing a strong foundation upon which to build my compositions.

The act of handwriting is a thing of substance, and requires no small amount of investment on my part. I worked for that analysis essay. I endured the hand cramps, the ceaseless sharpening of the pencil, the stubborn erasure marks, the graphite smudges on my fingers… and in taking more time, I took more care in what I wrote, and how I had written it. I made new connections about imagery, developed new ideas, and extended my essay by almost two pages. In this new, handwritten essay, I could see myself, my thoughts, my hard work, simply because of the method by which it was written. I believe that taking the time and effort to produce work of superior quality is well worth it when you can find satisfaction in your own process of creation. The knowledge that you have put your best effort out there is, I feel, much more valuable than simple convenience.

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