June 19, 2010

Write or Type? by Kimberley Payne

On The Word Guild discussion forum a question was posed about whether, as writers, we preferred to type or handwrite our first drafts. I prefer to write on lined paper in a three-ring binder, then transcribe onto computer and edit as I type.

Carolyn Wilker agrees, “I still often write an early draft by hand, for poetry and prose, as thoughts come to me. Sometimes my typing fingers just cannot keep up with the words that come. Then I go to the computer to finish writing and revising.”

However, Benjamin Collier prefers typing over handwriting. “Ever since I discovered my gift of writing I've been doing it all on computer. The development of my stories takes a lot of editing, organizing and rearranging that would just turn into a big mess of scribbles on paper. I even had to start journaling on the computer instead of writing my journal by hand, not because of organizing but because my knuckles started to ache whenever I spent too much time handwriting.”

Darlene Oakley does not share this same problem. “I find I still have that attachment to paper. My ideas feel more real when I've written them down. I may add to them later, on-screen, but I need the physicality of writing them down.”

Like me, Audrey Dorsch can type faster than she can write by longhand. “For me, it's easier to get my thoughts out by keyboarding them right into the computer. Also, I hate doing things twice, and transcribing my written work seems like duplication of effort.”

Aimee Reid shared, “I find writing and editing to be somewhat different processes. When I am gathering ideas and organizing my thoughts I tend to jot notes down longhand. My creative juices flow better. When I'm in front of a computer screen my brain can too easily switch into editing mode. Like Audrey, though, I don't like to duplicate my efforts. I only write longhand to prime my pump. Then I go to the computer to draft. And I revise as I go. Of course, then I let the writing cool and come back to it again . . . and again . . . and still again as many times as I need to. I've learned when I need to move away from the keyboard and then back to it. “

Kathie Chiu prefers typing over hand-writing, but she misses the process of writing in longhand. She wrote, “There's something much more creative about pencil/pen and paper. I imagine some of the greatest classics of all time... written longhand. I cannot imagine how Jane Austen wrote Pride & Prejudice on sheets of paper using a quill and ink! We take our conveniences for granted.”

There is certainly nothing right or wrong about longhand versus keyboarding. So, tell us, what is your preference?


  1. Kimberley, I enjoyed your posting. It was interesting to read what other writers prefer.

    Me? I tend to start with paper and pen, just because the ideas most often flow when I'm journalling.

    Then I take the seedling idea, create a new document and work away on my computer. My fingers keep up with my thoughts easier on a keyboard than with a pen.

  2. I admire those that have the patience to write longhand. I'm left handed so I usually cannot read my writing when I'm finished, and since I type well over 100 wpm it's much quicker and more legible to spill on the keyboard!
    It's a good thing I didn't live back in the day of Jane Austen!
    Pam M.


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