I write the first drafts of many of my blog posts by hand.
People often ask me why I do it this way rather than composing directly on the computer. “Does it take longer to do it that way?”
Here’s my answer: “Yes. Yes, it does take longer—and that’s kind of the point.”
Just in case you’re wondering if that’s a cop-out and that I’m a lousy typist, that is definitely not the case. I am a pretty decent typist, according to TypingTest.com. I definitely don’t write that fast!
I can compose quickly on the computer when I want to—but I rarely get the outcome I want when I make a decision based on getting it done quickly.
Writing by hand slows me down—and that is the major benefit of doing it. (For other benefits, check out this infographic.)
Taking time to compose by hand yields several benefits supported by research and matched by my experience as a writer and a writing teacher.
- We are better able to think ahead about where the writing is headed. We more effectively plan—and refine our plans—when we slow down.
- We are more aware of how various ideas relate to each other, even if at first they seem completely unrelated.
- More time to think about our words and ideas inspires more creative thinking.
- We can better recall what we have written because we spent more time on it. The learning “sticks.” This means that we are better able to pick up earlier ideas and connect them to other ideas in the piece.
While I do compose on-screen frequently, and it often works just fine, when I am writing about a challenging subject or am struggling to focus my thoughts, I revert to my old-school pen and paper to get me through.
I rarely write a complete first draft by hand—but I handwrite enough to get a sense of the tone and the major threads and ideas I want to weave together. I take what I’ve written, prop it up next to the computer, and start typing. Once I finish typing what I’ve written out, the rest of the post usually flows on the computer from there.
Taking time with the process leads to better results. Significantly, time spent early in the process seems to be what matters the most.
What This Has to Do with Marriage Growth
I’ve often said that slow progress is still progress. That is, even if things aren’t moving as quickly as we would like them to, any movement forward counts as growth and progress.
I’ve written about slow progress, baby steps, and attention to process countless times. I’ve written about it in relation to saying yes to sex, trusting your husband, getting comfortable with your husband’s penis or oral sex, and understanding why you have a negative visceral reaction to your husband’s request for a particular sex act.
It’s okay to take your time, as long as you’re generally moving forward. And by the way, if you’re stuck and are standing still, sometimes that counts as progress, too, because you at least aren’t backing up.
Slow progress is progress.
But I’ve been wondering: What if slow progress is actually better progress? What if taking your time to grow actually makes the growth more effective?
Now, there’s a fine line between moving slowly and dragging your feet. Calling something intentionally slow progress to justify minimal effort isn’t what I’m talking about. Full disclosure: I know this from personal experience. Lifelong habit. I know I should work on it, but I’m, um, making really slow progress . . . Yeah, I don’t buy it, either.
The benefits of time that can help us produce better writing can also apply to all sorts of areas of marriage growth. This is especially the case when we are dealing with something difficult or we struggle to focus our attention on what really matters.
- We are better able to think ahead about where we are headed. We can effectively plan—and refine our plans—when we slow down. If you’ve always resisted giving oral sex, and you’ve decided that you are really going to make it work (and even swallow), slowing down into small steps allows you to learn what challenges you face. If you’ve avoided giving oral because you’re grossed out by the idea, you might not have any idea yet that it might be hard to find a position that’s comfortable for you. Working slowly gives you time to know this and really think ahead to what kinds of issues you’ll be addressing.
- We are more aware of how different things relate to each other, even if at first they seem completely unrelated. I had always assumed my resistance to sex had to do with hurt that grew out of our relationship. As I slowly unfolded into the fullness of being a wife, I was able to see many other pieces of my life that had come to bear on my views about sex. I saw my struggle to have a relationship with God. I saw my feelings of insecurity and not belonging. I probably would have recognized these problems at some point in my life, but I might not have made the connection to how they affected my marriage and our sex life.
- We have more time to think about what we do and say. We can think more creatively. Instead of plowing our way through things just to get to the finish line, slow progress allows us to be more deeply thoughtful about what we are doing, and how.
- Because we spend more time on it, the learning that we do “sticks” better. When any of my old habits or thought patterns emerges, it is easier for me to combat them because I so deeply learned the tools that I acquired as I was moving slowly.
You may find that working slowly is the only way to really get moving. As you continue to make progress, you may find that the rest of it flows fairly quickly from there. If it’s early in the process of growth, moving slowly might actually lead to better long-term results.
Our goals for marriage growth shouldn’t be to just knock it out and get it done. Rather, our goals are intimacy and oneness. Some things you just can’t speed up.
In fact, the Bible tells us not to rush.
Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way! Proverbs 19:2
Next time you’re feeling frustrated because the process of growth seems to be taking forever, just remember that not only is slow progress still progress, it just might be better progress, too.
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