If you write regularly, you probably already know that writing is good for your mental health and offers an important creative outlet. You also likely know that making a habit of writing can help you grow as a writer. But have you considered the way you write? Does it make a difference if you write by hand or on your computer? How does your medium affect your writing process? Simply put, hand writing or typing?
Until rather recently, handwriting was the only option. There were no other available mediums until the invention of the typewriter and, not long after that, the personal computer. Typing has changed the way people write and this is both a good and bad thing.
For some, writing by hand is the best possible way to work. For others, nothing could compare with their keyboard and word processor. To help you decide what works best for you, or if you could benefit from occasionally switching it up, here are four major points to consider
1. Writing Speed
For experienced typists, using a computer (or typewriter) is much faster than writing by hand. Those who write on their computer take on average half as much time to complete a first draft as those who write longhand. If you’re working on a large project like a novel or a time-sensitive submission, typing might be the better option. That being said, many people choose to write by hand because it’s slower. Truman Capote said in an interview that he preferred not to use a typewriter because “I like the slowness of writing by hand.” Slowing down might help you focus on what you’re writing and invest in the creative process a little more.
2. Revision Process
Writers who choose to write on a computer or laptop make about 80% of their revisions during their first draft, while those who write by hand tend to wait until they’ve finished their draft to make changes. Writing on a computer tends to lead to a more fragmented writing process, with more revision as you go on. And if you make a mistake or head off on a tangent, it’s easy to hit backspace and try again. Writing on a computer is more flexible. But the lack of a “delete” option when writing on paper can be an asset. It requires a more systematic approach and forces the writer to move on without making immediate revisions.
The Internet is full of distractions, which are only a click away when you’re writing on your laptop. This isn’t a problem for everyone, but some find it difficult to stop themselves from repeatedly checking their Facebook accounts and watching YouTube videos when they’re supposed to be working on their novel. Writing by hand limits those distractions and is scientifically proven to improve focus. Students who take notes by hand are generally more attentive and better at retaining new information. If you had a hard time focusing on the writing process, writing longhand or on a typewriter is definitely worth trying.
4. Writing Style
Pens and keyboards require different cognitive processes, which means that changing the writing medium can also change the way of thinking. This is likely why some writers find they have a different writing style depending on whether or not they are typing or writing on paper. Consider experimenting with your writing medium. You might find that making a change has a positive effect on your style and writing process.
There are strong points for and against both of these writing mediums. When you’re deciding which to use (or perhaps trying them both), consider what is more comfortable for you and what is better for your individual approach to writing. There is no wrong way to write. Pick what works best for you.
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