Friday Fun – Keyboard vs. Longhand

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Early adopter or luddite? A shiny laptop and the latest writing software, or crisp paper and a fine pen? Which do you prefer? Why? If you use both, what drives your choice?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson: Definitely not an early adopter. I wait for something to be out for a year or two before I dive in. My laptop is a few years old now, and my PC is a couple. Both need to be upgraded, since XP just isn’t hip anymore, but, well, I’ll keep plugging along. For journaling of any type it’s paper and pen for me. I find that I feel more creative writing with paper and pen, but I’m so much faster with a keyboard – so it’s a tough battle there. I can capture my thoughts as they happen when I type, writing, well, not so much. I like having options in everything, and this is just a good example.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I love writing by hand in my Clairefontaine journal with my handmade fountain pen (I buy the journals myself but the pen was a gift from a friend.) I occasionally journal on my computer but I love my collection of written notes from over the years. All other writing I do on my laptop, a 7 year old Mac. My husband replaced the hard drive on it when I ran out of memory, so it should keep me going for another while. I, too, type faster than I can write, but sometimes I need the slowness of the handwritten page to gather my thoughts. Other times I love the speed of my fingers as they fly across the keyboard. One of these days I’ll try some novel-writing software, but I just haven’t had a good reason to get it yet. My old-fashioned methods are working well for me for now.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: I used to be entirely long hand. In fact, when I was learning journalism skills, I was taught to literally cut and paste using scissors and tape. Well, I’ve come a long way baby. Although I carry a notebook with me at all times to jot down notes, typing is how I write these days. I just don’t have the time to write something out and then transcribe it later.

Of course as a result, my handwriting has gotten much worse prompting more than one person to ask me if I’m a Doctor when I hand them a note. 🙂

DLLDeborah Lee Luskin: I bought my first Mac the day after Word was released for Apple – and have never looked back. As a result, my handwriting is nearly illegible. On the rare occasions I’m forced to use pen and paper, I transcribe it as soon as possible – while I still have an idea of what I wrote. The big exception is poetry: that’s strictly a pencil and paper affair for first drafts. But I keyboard my grocery list and email it to my phone. Lest this make me sound like a geek – I’m not. I keep my software updated, but use my hardware until it breaks. And I play the acoustic piano – no batteries or bits, just felt, wood, ivory and strings.

Susan Nye: How about a new laptop with a matt finish? And word because I know it and don’t want to take the time to learn a new software program. I so much rather spend my time writing. (Or skiing like today!) I only use pen and paper when I’m taking notes.

13 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Keyboard vs. Longhand

  1. I enjoy writing by keyboard as well as by hand. I have kept hand-written journals for years and years as well as special small journals for specific topics. Like many writers, I enjoy the speed of the key pad. BTW…I love this site! Congratulations on putting it together and keeping it going!

  2. Used to be notebooks and pens, then laptop. Am now using ipad – which I ‘m finding great as it allows me to draw/paint in between writing and is very portable. Also like that I can write anything and then just instantly delete it, or send it into the world if I want to (though generally not a good idea).

  3. I’ve been writing word-processors since 1987. A few years ago, though, I bought a couple of fountain pens – one for blue ink, one for red. I went to a pen shop with trained staff: they looked at the way i held a pen and the way I wrote and recommended the best kind of pen (Parker’s inexpensive Vector range).

    I now use the keyboard less.I find the pens useful for (a) exploratory writing and (b) generating ideas. The smooth flow of ink generates a flow of ideas. I’ve made myself use a much more joined-up script to maximise this effect.

    To make the most of the benefits of writing with a good pen, I find it’s important to have supplies of the right kinds of paper. I keep used envelopes for jotting. I use blank A5 for the next level of finish – more composed notes. And I have notebooks of varying qualities, including at the top end some that I bought in Tokyo,composed of handmade paper. I use them for pieces of writing I want to keep – for example notes for lectures I’ve given.

    Recently I’ve been experimenting with writing business correspondence by hand on company letterhead, then scanning and sending as an attachment. No doubt this sounds bizarre, but the indications are that recipients like the personal touch, welcome the sense of character that handwriting provides, and send more considered responses.

  4. It depends on what I’m doing and where I am. Most projects are on my desktop, BUT I’m an on-the-go Mom carting around a 3 and 4 year old. I keep electronic copies of my two current long projects on my phone so I can refer back to what I’ve already written, but have a selection of small notebooks in my purse so I can take advantage of unexpected writing time in unexpected places, without the bother of worrying about a laptop AND two kids.

    For poetry, I prefer a quill pen, a bottle of ink, and parchment paper. Yes, really. It forces me to slow down and appreciate the entire process as art, which helps put me in the right mindset for poetry.

  5. I belong to the generation where handwriting was something you practiced in grade school. In high school, everyone was required to write in longhand – at least in English class.
    Once I learned to type in 9th grade, however, as I gained speed on a typewriter it became my choice medium once I graduated. I stopped writing longhand as I did in my teenaged journals and began keyboarding journal entries. As I’ve gotten older and developed arthritis, I rely on the keyboard heavily. My handwriting used to be beautiful. Now, it’s a mess. (Use it or lose it!)
    But I do carry a small pocket notebook with me in the car/my purse where I write notes in spurts especially for story ideas or other gems that pop into my head.

  6. I like pen and paper. The tedious part is transcribing into my computer. I have found that while I am rewriting from paper to computer I expand on the original idea. I do this for my journalism stories and even when doing my homework. I carry a notebook wherever I go to jot down thoughts I do not want to forget.

  7. Lovely reading about everyone’s habits and quirks… thank you all. As for me, it’s mainly keyboard. Because it’s there. Actually I have trouble reading my own handwriting these days – could belong to a stranger!

  8. Pingback: Keyboard vs. Longhand: How do you Write? | Jennifer K Blog

  9. A good question for discussion. I, too,belong to an era–where in school–we learned the “art of writing”…and I never did learn to type–not properly…and I still feel most creative with pen and paper–that is where I begin–and end up revising it–when I transcribe it to the computer…which I jokingly credit–for making it appear that I can type! ..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s