Even the postmen who come to your door do not write notes or receipts any more. They just scan barcodes and then hand you a little screen on a little box. Just sign here, they say, handing you a stylus.
They just want to see you touch the pointy object to the screen and produce a scratch, just that.
Why is writing important? I mean by this the act of holding a pen or pencil and producing letters, words on a page. Taking yourself back to the pleasures of pure process.
Now those are not my words, but let me take you back. In October I wrote about writing and mentioned the proprioceptive writing in passing as one example of how you can write and read in a more meaningful way.
I meant that as a means of exploration of both the outside world and yourself, for, I said in my column that we are always in quest for meaning, even when we are not conscious of it our brains are always ticking to make sense of where we are and how things fall into place.
I was saying that writing opens up not just the world before you but also gives you a clearer sense of yourself. That for certain, is one of its gifts no matter what you are aiming for, whether you are writing a novel or simply keeping a journal.
I guessed that proprioceptive writing may have had its roots in psychotherapy. I have had my knuckles rapped for being so presumptuous by a person who has been practising (and teaching) Proprioceptive Writing (PW) for more than 20 years.
No, it is not psychotherapy that is the root of the proprioceptive method but literary theory, says Ann Bright who teaches PW in New York.
PW was in fact discovered by two teachers, one with a PhD in English Literature (Linda Trichter Metcalf) and another, Tobin Simon, was, like Metcalf, also a professor of English and humanities at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Together they wrote the guiding text for PW, Writing the Mind Alive, a book that Ann Bright said I should read. “I enjoyed reading your article... I imagine from reading [it] that you would enjoy and appreciate the book,” she said.
The initiator of the method (Metcalf) discovered that words can start talking to you — and here I am putting her discovery in my own words — when she began to examine closely the relationship between words and her subjective experience of words in the course of writing her doctoral dissertation at New York university.
She began to read a novel closely, each phrase, each sentence and recorded what thoughts were triggered in her mind.
She began to observe her reading and her mind’s response to words that she was reading in this way for six hours a day for three months.
And that was how PW was born as a form of ‘meditation’ that brought a new way for her to experience herself. Metcalf and Simon gave up their teaching jobs to devote themselves full time to teaching PW to other people.
From the testimonials it appears to have helped people from all walks of life — writers included — to become more aware of themselves. Some established writers report that this has helped them clear writing blocks.
I shall indeed look further into this and write about it in future columns.
Suffice it for me to say now that it is an example of how consciously writing and letting your mind go free in your meditation on words will take you to pathways that will surprise even yourself.
Thinking at the same pace of your writing will sometimes make you want to look closer at words.
This is a personal opinion and is perhaps the reason why I prefer journal writing to be in handwritten words, not tapped at speed on a keypad.
The habit of journal writing is something that I’d recommend to anyone starting out on any venture. It is a way of clarifying your thoughts and gathering them in what may appear to be an unsystematic way.
For many it has produced surprising results. Wan A Hulaimi NST Home News Opinion Columnist 15 November 2015