Handwriting Vs. Typing

January 9, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments
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We’re living in the technological age, where everything is computerised and everything pretty much grinds to a halt if that technology fails or there’s a power cut. It seems technology has become a big part of the publishing world, too: e-books, agent blogs, facebook and twitter, writing forums. But when it comes to the actual writing – BIC (Butt In Chair), pounding out the words – time, what do you prefer? Typing your masterpiece, or sitting down old-style with a pad of paper and pen?

I’m really interested. Are teens more likely to use the computer, or does it depend on personal preference? Personally, I think it’s all about what works best for you. For me, typing is almost always my preference. I type faster than I handwrite most of the time, and I can barely read my own handwriting at the best of times. I also find the words flow much better when I sit in front of my laptop. Sure, the temptation to self-edit is always there, but I just have to make sure I don’t angrily delete any words when it feels like it’s all going wrong. There’s also the plus that it’s easier to edit once you’re done if it’s typed, and easier to print or email to betas/agents/publishers/random friends who bug you for excerpts etc.

I can see the benefits to handwriting novels too, though – although if you handwrite the whole novel you’re almost definitely going to have to type it all up at some point, which adds time onto the whole process. Handwriting is great for focused, no-distractions writing – the problem with using a computer is that old evil The Internet. It’s ever-so-tempting to just check up on facebook/twitter/absolute write/wordpress etc – I’m definitely living proof of that. With a pen and paper it’s much harder to be distracted. It’s also often more versatile – it’s easier to take a pen and paper on a train, to write on it during your lunch break, to take it on long car journeys (those where you’re a passenger, not the driver, of course.)

So, those are generally the two options for those who are crazy enough to decide to write a novel. (I’m going to class using a typewriter as being typed…although it’s kind of like handwriting since the temptation of the internet isn’t there.) But which do you prefer – and what are your reasons? I’m sure I haven’t covered them all in this rambling post – which, for the record, I typed rather than handwrote – so maybe comment and let us all know. You never know, you might persuade someone to try the other method!

~ Becky


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  1. I used to write longhand in notebooks that I carried around. Now, though, I have my own computer, and it’s easier for me to type. I, too, type faster than I write, and I do feel that things work much faster when I type. However, I did like having those notebook first drafts. Every now and then, I consider returning to my old method.

  2. I always use a computer–it’s so much faster for me and that way I can keep up with the flow of ideas. But a lot of times when I’m not at home I write a scene in a notebook or on a random piece of paper, then type it in later.

  3. Usually I type but recently I’ve been writing by hand because my story is set in a diary-style and my characters are writing all of this by hand so I thought, well, I might as well, too.
    Then I transfer it on the computer and edit it there.

    It’s like, I think it was, Stephen King who said that when you write by hand, every word counts even more. Because in the computer, we just have that old backspace so we can get rid of the word quickly. And now I have to agree. Though sometimes I do prefer typing as my hand gets sore easily from writing.

    And yeah, evil, evil internet. :D

  4. my prefered method is slamming away on my keyboard like a maniac but originally I started out with a pen and paper and have even used an old fashioned typewiter which was fun. Its much faster typing but still pen and paper never fails to make me feel like a true writer.

  5. Computer all the way! Handwriting is too slow for me. I get impatient or else frustrated because it takes so long to erase things. (:

  6. My laptop is more or less what made me write a novel. I’d always wanted to, and I’ve written loads of chapter 1s in old notebooks, and having a laptop made it all more convenient.
    So computer for me.
    Great post :)

    PS: Without computers, I wouldn’t have met the twifties, so that’s another bonus even though it’s annoyingly distracting. :D

  7. I always type. I can type a lot faster than I handwrite, it doesn’t kill my hands, and I don’t have to waste ten minutes looking for my pencil when it mysteriously disappears. Plus, as long as I keep it backed up, I don’t have to worry about anything happening to my story. The only time I handwrite is when I get an idea and I can’t get to the computer fast enough to write it down.

  8. I find it easier to write when I’m typing than handwriting. Plus I think I type faster than I write. As for the distraction factor. I now unplug the internet in the basement while I work, especially since I’m now in query mode. :D

  9. I always have to go back and forth. Oddly, typing has started to become smoother for me, but the distractions. then, I feel like writing at school so I need my trusty notebook (also I share the computer with my family). If I have a substantial amount that I’ve written during school, I go back and type the written stuff first before I go ahead…I try my hardest not to self-edit while doing so.

  10. It really depends for me, because I write a LOT during school, when I’m supposed to be doing my work (that explains my grades…) but at home, I’d really prefer to be typing. I guess, for me, it’s more about the available means of writing. Then again, sometimes I type at school, and write at home.

  11. Typing for me. My handwriting sucks, it’s slow, among all the reasons already mentioned :D

  12. I really like typing and handwriting I usually write my first draft out long hand but then transfer it into my laptop. I used to only use my computer and every once in a while used paper. But then one time I forgot to save it and I lost almost twenty pages of my novel!!!! I cried ( no joke) so now I rely in good ol’ fanshioned pen and paper. It’s almost like my back up in case I ietjer lose the notebook then I know it’s on the computer or if I don’t save it I know that it us in my notebook.

  13. I only handwrite when I’m struck my some genius idea that I’m afraid I’ll forget and I’m far far away from my lovely computer.
    I like being able to edit as I go and not have to scribble out three lines of dialogue. I like being able to press Ctrl+Z if I do slash three lines of dialogue and then decide I want them back. It’s much easier than trying to read through pen scribble. :)
    But oh, the internet!! How evilly distracting it is!
    Great post, Becky!! <33

  14. I handwrite for the most part, since I do a lot of my writing at school when I have nothing else to do. The computers are only open at lunchtime, and most of them hate my memory stick. Having to type the story up after handwriting does add time, but provided one keeps on top of it and doesn’t leave it all to the end, I don’t have a problem. Sometimes the typing can help me get my thoughts in order so when I get back to writing, I can start straight away instead of staring into space. For extra parts of books that I’m not up to yet but want to write anyway, I type.

  15. You can call me old fashioned but I handwrite. I feel more comfortable with it since the words flow better. If I start typing straight away it feels like there’s a barrier between me and my characters. Guess it’s a personal preference. But it leaves me with no less distractions. My comp’s always on…and more often than not, my hand’s sliding off the pen and edging towards the mouse…:P

  16. I really am a huge fan of typing. If I don’t have my laptop, but I want to write and I have paper, I won’t write because I just can’t handwrite. I dunno, maybe I’m just weird. :p

  17. I do a mixture of both but I almost always start on on paper and with a pen. For some reason using a pen where the ink flows out and it can smear and I can’t erase but scratch out makes my thoughts flow better. When I’m on the computer I feel stuck more often. Eventually I will make it to the computer some time before or after I’ve finished the first draft (It depends on what I’m writing) If anything else I will at least write down my idea’s and a simple outline before I hit the computer. Plus I’ve been working on making my handwriting look nice like the old handwriting.

  18. i find it easier for ideas to flow when i write in a notebook… but them its really hard for me to keep all the papers i use in check. so i write on pater, then type it out. its a lot of work, but i dont really mind :) – plus i cant afford to have a messy handwritting since i’m still yet to do my igcse’s and i dont want the examiner to feel pain reading my work.

  19. Typing, because I’m super fast at it, and quick enough so that I won’t forget ideas that pop in my head. I’ll jot down ideas when I get them on a piece of paper, but more than half my writing is on the computer.

  20. I handwrite first, then at the end of each chapter I type what I’ve written :)
    This way I can write at school (or away from home) – and when I type, i ALWAYS delete everything I write when I get writer’s block/frustrated hahaha.
    Oh well.
    My handwriting is super-messy though, which sucks!

  21. I prefer both: I hand write a first draft during class ( yeah i know i shouldn’t but there’s a notebook right there…) and then i type it up and edit when I get home and repeat the process all over the next day until voila I have a novel! and, whats more, I have a handwritten copy ( which is like awesome in my point of view if anyone can read my chicken scratch) and an edited ( better) version on the computer which i then email to myself so that it is saved on the good old internet.

  22. Your processes are amazing. You all have made quite a case for finding a balance between the thoughts that emerge from those neurotransmitters that pick up special thoughts as a result of using your pencil and paper (wiggling those fingers) vs. editing, using your laptops. Can it get any better?

    I remember someone asking me to retell a story by sitting on my hands. My story was filled with stumbling “uh, umm’s,” trying to recall the depth of the experience. When I was able to wiggle my fingers, use my hands and fully express myself, even in the slightest way, my story was much richer than when I just punched keys or sat on my hands.

    Great stuff!!!

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