Writing on a Computer…Or With a Pen and Paper?

Maybe this question came as a surprise to you. After all, what modern writer doesn’t write on a computer? Pen and paper are…well, pretty old and slow. They can also drag your self-esteem into the dirt: reading your sloppy handwriting is enough to get you glancing over your shoulder every five minutes to see if someone is watching you.

But then again, some of the finest (and longest) novels have been written with pen and paper. You want to write a 1000-page-plus tiny print novel before computers? That’s the literary classic Emma in a nutshell. The grit earlier writers must have had. They must have had stellar writing skills before any book of theirs made it to the printing press.

But the times have advanced, you say. Now we have better and faster instruments of writing. Granted, it’s true. Typing is faster and more practical for all intensive purposes. But that doesn’t discount the old way. You have to see the flaws and advantages with both methods.

“You’re not seriously suggesting that I throw away my multi-thousand dollar computer and buy a zebra pen and a ream of paper.” You may flout at me, disbelieving. That’s not what I’m saying. Computers are very useful tools, and shouldn’t be wasted. Everything you write by pen has to be converted to a digital copy in the end, anyway. But I have my reasons for saying what I’m saying.

The Computer, the Forerunner for Team Modern, sports a fast and flashy look. The crowd cheers. Easy spreadsheets and documents are available in a few clicks. With a keyboard, you whiz through the letters and words, after a good knowledge of how to use it. Plus, there’s a big league of computer nerds who use it as well.

However, it does have its disadvantages. The computer also presents many distractions. That one-click gratification is addictive. Soon, you may find yourself distracted by your writing and into browsing YouTube videos. This is especially true if you are cursed with a more procrastinating nature.

Up comes the Pen and Paper, Forerunners for Team Not-so-Modern. The populace gives a general chuckle. It’s hard to see how these guys will be taken seriously. And how could they? After all, the prospect of slow, drudging writing with a pen must be seriously unattractive to the general audience, who are addicted to one-click gratification.

However, there’s less distraction. Carrying a small book and a pen are much more portable than a laptop. One can be carried in a pocket, and one has to be carried in the crook of an elbow or a backpack. There’s no “one-click addictions” here, and it actually forces your mind to think harder. Perhaps you’d even be more creative with pen and paper.

Ah, must I choose? Very well.

I cannot in good conscience deny one over the other. I can’t deny that the computer is faster, and just as well I can’t deny that forcing your hand to spell out each individual word is more stimulating for your brain. Both have advantages, as well as disadvantages.

I suggest an ultimatum: you can have your cake and eat it too. For the most part, you can do whichever you wish: pen and paper or computer. However, I believe that some things are better when they are written down with a pen: lists, notes, brainstorms, sketches, character sheets.

I write most of the time on a computer. I believe it is the most efficient way to spend my time. However: when I go to brainstorm or take notes about my story, I’ll use a pen. For the most part, what matters more than whether you use either method is if your writing is quality. But I support the combination I have mentioned.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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