These days most of us write using a digital device, be it a PC, laptop, or even phone. Before that, we had word processors, typewriters, and the printing press. Each of these inventions has given us the ability to get more words, to more people, in the quickest possible way. But some argue that writing in this ‘detached’ way limits us and that writing by hand is far better for creativity. Is that really the case?
A direct “connection” to the words
A device can be said to create a barrier between you and the paper. Typing words is simply not the same as crafting them with a pen. Your imagination is linked directly to the paper via your hand and so your creativity “flows” in a far fuller sense.
Ideas without deletions
It’s easy to remove a phrase or scene you’re unsure about when wacking stuff down on a digital device. But on paper, there are no backsies. You can erase pencil or whip out the old Tip-ex for pen, but the easiest thing to do is put a line through it and start again. Not pretty, but with the added advantage of not wholly removing your ideas. So on a later edit, you have the option to reinstate it if you decide that it was right after all.
No batteries, no problem
Digital devices have one very clear flaw – they need power. With a pen and paper, there’s no such problem. Pens are easy to stock up on, and a pencil merely needs a sharpener to get going again. Your writing tools are ready whenever and wherever you are. I’ve written entire first drafts before by hand, filling notebooks at work when lugging my laptop around just wasn’t practical.
And the cons
It’s not as quick
I can type much faster than I can write. If you’re the same, you’ll have experienced the frustration that comes from the hand not being able to keep up with the brain. So when you write by hand, the page becomes a bunch of messy scribbles leaping off in various directions. And when it comes to reading back what you’ve written, forget it. You need some kind of cryptic code decipherer to figure it out!
It’s harder to edit
Editing online is easy. You can delete, move things around, jump ahead – basically anything whenever you need to without a hint of mess or fuss. Try this on paper. You end up with a page full of crossings out, arrows and squidged in text that’s barely readable.
You end up repeating yourself
At some point, you’ll need to type up what you’ve written by hand. Which means you’ll end up repeating what you’ve already done. This is both time-consuming and boring.
There are good and bad things about writing in the “traditional” way. It can make you feel more like a writer which is sometimes what you need to remind you that you are one. But personally, I prefer the speed and flexibility of typing.
How about you? Do you write by hand, or type all the way? Let me know in the comments!