What is the sound of one hand writing? Or is it typing?

Another interesting thread from a writing mailing list has inspired another slightly tangental post on my behalf. The question – do you write long hand or directly into the computer?

My early career was in the computer industry and I’ve always had computers in my working life, so when I started to write I got myself set up with a laptop and the Scrivener writing software package and did all of my drafting electronically.

However, recently I realised that I have a lot of trouble turning off my inner editor when I write on the computer. I’m always going back and fiddling with sentences. This was fine when I was writing primarily flash fiction, but it has become a bit problematic when tackling longer pieces. I can’t get me no momentum!

So recently I’ve been writing longhand on lunch breaks, while waiting for my daughter to finish her dance lesson, in the stolen moments when the kids go off to a birthday party – basically anywhere I can grab a few minutes spare. I seem to be much better at saying “oh that’s roughly correct, I’ll fix it when I type this up” when I’m writing by hand. As a result, I’m getting more first draft material down without my internal critic slowing me up. Also, the typing up process is an excellent way of giving my work a first level line edit. And for those that have read my writing, you’ll know the more editing the better!

Of course I also have a growing volume of almost indecipherable hand written semi-prose that I haven’t quite got around to typing up yet. And, every minute that goes by reduces the chance I’ll ever be able to re-interpret my own scribbling, meaning some story ideas and fragments may be lost forever. But that’s the price I pay for the impetus gaining by a moving object.

I’ve also been giving some thought to writing materials. Recently I’ve begun using a series of “whiteline” books (where the page is a very very light grey and the lines are white). Much easier on the eye. Sadly I haven’t yet found a pen I really like, so I drift from shop to shop constantly searching, never finding true pen love.

What about you? Is your preference for long hand or is it electronic-word-capture-or-bust? Have you found pen love? A particularly well formed notebook, whose pages soak up your speculative fictive ink like a sponge in a rock pool? The perfect keyboard for your iPad, allowing your fingers to fly faster than light while you sit at the local cafe? Do sponges in rock pools actually soak up anything? Tell me all about it.

Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

3 thoughts on “What is the sound of one hand writing? Or is it typing?”

  1. I have an issue, bordering on the irrational where I buy nice looking journals and don't write in them. A friend bought me a paper blank recently and I can't find it in me to write in it. I do think writing longhand effects how you think and write – sort feeds into itself
    My recent post Ditmars 2013 – Best Fan Artist

    1. I think I have a stationary problem as well. In particular my inability to find a pen that I like, which leads me to buy pen after pen after pen. I have a strong suspicion that I have enough ink in my house to spend the rest of my life writing without running out. And all that ink is packaged in cylinders that I have come to despise.

      Now that I've written that, it just sounds like a giant excuse to procrastinate.

      I do love a good journal as well, although I tend to abandon them too quickly. I have a lot of 1/5th full journals scattered about.

      Now I just sound wasteful.

      So in summary: I am a lazy environmental vandal. This comment hasn't turned out as well as I'd hoped.


      My recent post The Accidental Sorcerer by K. E. Mills – review

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