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Handwriting vs. typing

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking: Why would I ever handwrite when I have this fabulous computer with its lovely keyboard and convenient word program? I totally understand this sentiment. I do a fair bit of my rough drafting in front of a computer screen too, but not all of it. Writing on paper is actually a pretty useful tool.

First of all, I can do it anywhere. My laptop died a tragic death via a virus infestation, so of course I can’t lug my desktop and all its thousands of cords into the car or up to my bedroom or wherever else I may feel like writing. And when I later type up the pieces I’ve written, it’s like I’m doing a second draft already. Because of course, I edit as I go. If something’s awkwardly worded, I’m going to change it then—why wait? My apartment is filled with notebook after notebook, and it gives me a strange feeling of accomplishment to flip through a notebook, and know there’s the better part of a book in there. My own words, from my own fingers, in my own handwriting.

Not that handwriting doesn’t have its downfalls. Transcribing my oh-so-beautiful handwriting does take some time. And writing it all down in the first place can be interesting—my brain works a lot faster than I can write, so if the ideas are really flowing, my poor hand starts to feel pretty abused.

I could be wrong, but I think more people stick to typing, bypassing the notebook stage. It does have its appeal—fast, convenient, and easy to erase those embarrassing sentences that make you think, “Good God, did I seriously write that?” and forget they ever happened. Plus, there’s no internet on a sheet of lined paper, no convenient resources like Wikipedia or or Google to reassure you that you’re not just making stuff up. (Although the internet can also be a huge distraction, so this may be both a pro and a con.)

So how about you? Handwriting? Typing? A mixture of both?
Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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  1. I actually hand write a fair bit because I gave my laptop to my sister because she is in college. My thought was, well, I am sitting around in the house usually when I write so what's the difference? Okay, yes there is a difference and after a couple of months of writing things frantically on the back of receipts and on napkins I gave in, bought a pretty notebook and a cool pen and carry it everywhere. At least half my work is now in notebooks and I find that brainstorming is easier when I can scribble out, start over on a fresh page without starting a new file, and it helps get my brain working (maybe because I always wrote in school?) I still want to get one of those small laptops but I am dealing fine with my notebook until then.

  2. I don't write longhand as much as I should. I've found it AMAZING for free-thinking and free-flowing and brainstorming and overcoming story blockage. On the computer, however, I feel the need to slow down and get it right, because omg there it is in actual text (instead of my sloppy fast-paced handwriting, seriously, you should see my brainstorming sketchbooks). Which is good some days, but story-stunting on others.

  3. I always write my rough draft out by hand. It's more relaxing and since my rough drafts are always a little bit of everything, it's easier. Then I do a MAJOR rewrite as I type it up. It works best for me since I can caarry the notebook everywhere.

  4. I think a mixture of both is good.
    I'm ALWAYS typing up stuff whenever I come up w/ a story idea. I also type up outlines of my stories, which help a lot.
    But, on the other hand, writing on paper seems to make me think more about the story than typing it up. Weird, huh? (I guess typing, for me, is a robotic thing.)

  5. I carry small notebooks in my purse and have everything from just a sentence that hit me, to an entire conversation between two characters. More than anything though, writing it with pen and paper helps me remember it better. If I type it up, it will get lost in the sea of word documents I have. If I write it, I'll remember it.

  6. I always hand-write my first drafts, for all the reasons you pointed out in this post. It's much more convenient for me, especially since being on the computer too long hurts my eyes, and I'd try too hard to make the first draft "perfect" if initially typing it. I'd never complete a book without my handy pen and paper!

  7. I usually handwrite my first draft and then edit as I type it up for the first. I like it better that way; I'd rather have a pen and paper than a keyboard, it makes it feel more original and creative and free. Less like a paper I'm writing for class. I dunno, haha.

    Great post, I always wonder how others feel about this stuff.

  8. Nice post!

    I think a balance is good, but I'll be the first to admit I don't hand-write nearly enough, for fiction and non.

    I carry around a little notebook and use it to jot down ideas, but pretty much all of my actual writing is done on my macbook, which I carry around with me. Now that I have an iTouch I can jot down notes in that as well. Uber digital. I really should pull out the notebook more.

  9. Typing for me, all the way. 1. It's a lot faster, 2. I can do a quick CNTRL-F to find things without riffling through pages. 3. My handwriting is terrible. :D

  10. Typing mostly. The only time I handwrite is when I get an idea for a story or scene and have to write it down before I forget. Handwriting more than a few pages makes my hand ache whereas I can type all day without that happening. Plus I'm notorious for misplacing notebooks so if I lost a really good story, I'd never forgive myself.

  11. You mean write without the safety net of my spell-checker?
    Seriously though, I love handwriting notes and random scenes but I've typed so much that I'd feel the need to write it all out before adding anything new to it which will take time. Should probably do it though as I spend a lot of time traveling and as I usually have study materials with me, an extra notebook isn't going to make much difference.

  12. I type.

    My handwriting is horrifying and since I type 90+ WPM, it's not really a contest. If I type, I can get down around 2000 words in an hour. I don't think I could do the same by hand.

    I outline on paper though. I don't know why, I always end up changing it or ignoring it or filling most of the page with doodles.

    Maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to doodle.

  13. LOL, excuses to doodle . . .

    I do the bulk of my writing on the laptop. But I keep a notebook in my bag and on my bedside table for those moments of brilliant insight in the middle of the night or while I'm driving. Er, while I'm passengering, I mean.

    I really do love both typing and handwriting - the words, the thought feel different somehow with each method. Both in good ways. :)

  14. I write then type it up. Most of the time,I don't have my laptop with me and it's easier for me to write it out first, because I can whip open a notebook. More inconspicuous, too. Especially at work.

  15. I take notes and journal ideas about my book in notebooks (Staples composition pads to be exact) and I also write formal poetry using these notebooks when I need to quench the desire to get my words exactly right in my fiction. Both of these I do using my trusty Zebra F-301 refill pen! But when it comes to actually sitting down to write the chapters, it's on the laptop.

    I actually blogged about this just this morning if anyone's interested. :)

  16. I use a notebook for quick ideas I don't want to forget...but all the real writing happens on laptop...or when I'm dreaming, which is a challenge since I never remember the specifics only that it was great in my sleep!


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Item Reviewed: Handwriting vs. typing Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward