What is the sound of writing and creativity to you? Is it the clicking of keys on a keyboard? Or the scratch of a pen or pencil on paper? Do any of you ever handwrite any of your stories anymore?
Writing by hand and typing are two different processes you can take when you write a story. Both are writing, yes, but both are so different from each other. I've done a fair share of creative writing using both methods, and today, I'm going to talk about the pros and cons of each of them.
It's faster. I know people who can type faster than they can think, especially faster than they can think of words to write down. So when you type, your hands don't have any problem keeping up with your thoughts. (Especially if you compare it to writing everything out by hand!)
It's easier to change things. If I just misspelled a word at the beginning of this sentence (like I actually did, haha), I can fix it and no one would know. If I was handwriting? Well, I could erase the mistake - if I was using a pencil. Or I could cross it out, leaving an ugly disfigurement to the paper. Or I could let it be and pray no one minds too much. Typing gives me the freedom to make mistakes and fix them, and lets me stay focused on what's right for the story.
It's so much easier to share. Beta-reading, critiquing, or just showing others your work is hard when the only copy out there is in a notebook. But a typed document can be copied and shared in a few seconds. This can also work to the author's advantage in other times. Recently, I was at the library without my laptop, and had time to kill. I was able to log online and go to Google Docs, and work on my novel from there.
But typing does have its downsides. I think the biggest one is that it's so easy to get disconnected to your story. I find it similar to digital books and print books; for me, it's harder to feel emotion and connection to the story when it's separated from me by a screen. Typing can feel so clinical, so mind-numbing and receptive, that it's harder to focus on the content that you're writing.
You feel productive, like a millionaire tech boss. Alright, not as serious, but surely I'm not the only one that feels like an important, productive company owner or tech guru when my fingers are flying over the keys like crazy? The sound of clickety-clackity busy-ness? Come on guys, you know you feel it.
As our technology advanced, typing becomes more and more viable. However, there are some things that I think technology can never perfect, and writing by hand also has its merits.
It helps focus. Writing by hand takes time - your hand literally cannot keep up with your brain. And that means that for every word that you write, you have time to think about it. You have a few extra seconds to decide if you really want to chose that word or follow that little plot bunny.
It improves creativity. According to multiple studies, writing improves creativity, and allows you to think of more options. From personal experience, I can vouch for this. There's so much freedom when you have a pen in hand that can glide down a page. That sense of freedom kind lets me relax and breathe - sets my mind free, you could say.
It's portable. When I didn't have a laptop, this meant I could write from any room in the house instead of the family's desktop. Once I got my first (clunky, heavy) laptop, writing in a notebook meant I could write on the go. With my second (oh-so-much-lighter) laptop, writing by hand means that I don't need to carry my laptop around in a large backpack or purse, and I can pull out a small notebook in just a few seconds.
It's slow. Like typing, writing by hand does have its fair share of cons. I know that I discussed how great writing slowly is, but there's also a negative side to it. You can start to over-think things, and start to entertain doubts about your project and your writing in general. when you go slow, you can plan and that's great, but there comes a time when you may be constantly questioning whether this word or that word really works there.
You feel like an author. A steaming mug of tea or coffee (or your drink of choice), a cozy sweater, holed up at your desk as rain drums on the roof. You know - the picture-perfect author? (That is actually barely ever accurate) The pen glides across the page and you think "This is how Shakespeare wrote his plays." (Except Shakespeare probably didn't use a gel pen. Hmm.)
Until the past year, most of my writing was by hand. I didn't have a laptop and handwriting was the easiest option there was. Even my Nanos were done by hand - and you could tell what season it was based on the size of my writing. My letters would get tiny in November and December, around March it would start to get a little bigger, and by August it would be maybe normal size. And then it would start over.
When I got a laptop for school use, it took some time to actually move my writing to it. I didn't - don't - like the idea of spending all my time staring at a screen. But soon, the speed and flexibility won out, and I was doing most of my writing on the computer. That was definitely cemented this past Nano, when I typed my novel through the entire month.
And when I changed it up, I noticed a shift in my writing. Typing helped me when it came to speed and getting words down on a page or editing and making frequent changes. But when it came to planning, plotting, brainstorming and writing short pieces to help me solidify character and world building, writing by hand helped me think in new ways.
In the end, both typing and writing by hand has their strengths. Both of them work, and it's up to personal preference. Each of them has something to offer. But the difference between them might surprise you.
So try changing up your writing sometimes. Use a laptop or a pen and notebook or a typewriter. Does it change how you write or think?
Do you like to type your stories, write by hand, or some combination of the two? What do you think about writing by hand vs. typing?