Monday, February 21, 2011

On Writing Monday: Computer versus Pen

I know bloggers everywhere have gone over this topic again and again and again. I'm going to take a minute to talk about it too, 'cause I found this idea very interesting.

I was at Borders the other day, my heaven on earth. I picked up this book in the Reference section, which is the heavenliest part of the Borders heaven, and skimmed through it. (I have to take a moment here, and apologize to the author of this book for not committing her name to memory, but Unknown Author, you have my undying homage.)

This Unknown Author devoted a lengthy amount of time as to why writers should take the time to write by hand, on paper, with that most archaic of all writing devices, a pen... or pencil, if you prefer. Her reason?

Often, when writers put their fingers on keyboards and let their minds and fingers take off at the same time, they're writing too quickly. The thoughts emerge, are plunked down, and the writer is away on the next fragmented idea. Typing is a much more instant form of writing that's more detached from the actual physical exercise of hand writing.

Writing by hand allows you to slow down, to take a moment between words to let the next golden idea blossom. Writing by hand allows your thoughts to emerge more freely, to come out truer and more believable than typing does.

Writing by hand lets your thoughts communicate with the touch of your hand on your paper. Your mind feels the ideas flowing through your brain. Those ideas rush through your blood and stream down into the tip of your finger, from your finger through the pen and ink, and onto the paper. It's a much more living act than typing. You see, feel, hear, smell the sound of the words as they emerge from your imagination and make their way through your body to the very whiteness of the waiting paper.

For me, this is good news, 'cause I happen to LOVE writing by hand. So, I'm curious. Which is the way you find you're more likely to write? By hand? Or by keyboard?


  1. By keyboard, definitely. If I write it first, then I'm double booking myself because I just have to type it anyway. To me, that is wasting time. Besides, my handwriting sucks and I can barely read it back. I actually type faster then I write so...

    I've just gotten so used to the computer that I do everything on there. However, I have to admit that a few times when I didn't feel like booting my computer up and I wanted to hurry up and write a story that was flying through my head, I have written it down. With a real pen!! But then, guess what. I just had to turn around and do double duty by typing it later.

    I do see why some people prefer the old fashioned way of pen and paper, but this techno babe, prefers the computer.

  2. LOL, Allyn! I did my NaNo novel completely by computer, which was a first for me, but most of the time I find that I head over to my trusty pen and paper.

  3. I like to do freewrites and early writing sketches by hand. I feel looser, less concerned about getting precise words down. Then I do a radical revision, where I read it over and circle the "hot spots" or lines that really hit me in the gut.

  4. It's the keyboard for me - for the simple reason that my handwriting is awful and I would spend too much time trying to decipher what I had written down :D

  5. I'm like Catherine. I do a bunch of freewriting before I start writing the actual story. I explore all kinds of possibilities, even if they are stupid (because sometimes the stupid ideas can be tweaked into genius). I do all of that with pen and paper, along with character sketches and journaling, and creating a rough outline.

    Like Allyn said, it's kind of double duty because I end up typing it all in later, but I find that it's worth it because my creative juices flow easier with pen and paper. But I'm also not as thorough because writing is so much slower than typing. So, I get the big pieces in place with a pen, then work out the finer details with the computer.

  6. Since I have a strained tendon in my right hand, which is the one I write with, I prefer typing. However, the thoughts do flow better when I hand write but writer's cramp and excruciating pain keep me from doing so.

  7. It is double duty, but I agree, Tabitha. It's worth it, 'cause I feel like my creativity has a better chance with paper than it otherwise would. :)
    Lots of different opinions, though. I love it!

  8. Thanks for this post! I always write better by hand too. In fact, when I want to *write*, instead of just getting my thoughts down before I forget them, I find it far, far easier to do using a fountain pen, and writing on nice paper, if I can possibly manage it. It engages more of my concentration, and the experience of writing is much more satisfying that way.

  9. Well...I think I do write better on my little ol' computer but I do all my notes, my outlines, character sketches, etc, in a note book. :-)I like writing on paper better, but it's easier for my on a computer.

  10. I do both. When I sit down to write, I type. But I carry a notebook everywhere and when I get ideas, I write them by hand and then transfer them to my laptop later. This morning I woke up with an idea and I went to my notebook. I could have just gotten my laptop, which I was turning on anyway, but I actually felt writing the ideas down would help me work through them in my head. I definitely need this mix of both ways.

  11. I do jot ideas in a journal and keep a hand written dream log but when I sit down to write I'm always at a comp. I can write faster that way and it's easier to fix later.


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