I Spent Independence Day Copying the Constitution By Hand

Here’s what I learned

House w white picket fence. Both are festooned w American flags. Big red, white, and blue painted dinosaur in front of house.
House w white picket fence. Both are festooned w American flags. Big red, white, and blue painted dinosaur in front of house.
Best Fourth of July setup ever. Don’t @me.
  • Boyfriends
  • Parental relations
  • Personal style
  • Government class
Book cover: U.S. flag background w big yellow block: The U.S. Constitution/And Fascinating Facts About It. Yellow binder clip
Book cover: U.S. flag background w big yellow block: The U.S. Constitution/And Fascinating Facts About It. Yellow binder clip
The beginning of the U.S. Constitution, in my own handwriting. Cream-colored notebook paper & tri-color pen.
The beginning of the U.S. Constitution, in my own handwriting. Cream-colored notebook paper & tri-color pen.

A few surprises

I don’t think I’ve ever really copied something before in this strict fashion. Usually I’m tempted to abbreviate, or shorthand something. But I didn’t feel that way with this document.

Down the rabbit hole

But what copying The Constitution did for me goes far beyond the aching shoulder and cramped fingers I acquired. (I even resorted to trying out a new way of holding my pen.)

my hand, holding a pen between the second and third fingers, copying the constitution onto a new page.
my hand, holding a pen between the second and third fingers, copying the constitution onto a new page.
I met someone in college who held her pen this way. I thought it was cool, and I wanted to be friends with her, so I said, “Oh! I hold my pen like that too!” which was a flat-out lie. Sigh. No wonder I wasn’t ready for The Constitution. Maturity was lacking.

Some final thoughts about copywork

I read recently about Ryan Holiday’s method of organizing and retaining his thoughts: He writes loose thoughts and things that interest him down on 4x6 index cards. Every thought, every intriguing-to-him passage that he reads from whatever book he’s reading.

Stack of varied books, all with Post-Its bristling from their edges like terrible porcupine quills.
Stack of varied books, all with Post-Its bristling from their edges like terrible porcupine quills.
Gah! What a nightmare.

D&I educator. Author: Pin Ups (9/20). ShelterBox Response Team member. Columnist @The Writer mag. TheGooddirt.org

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