So... do you handwrite your work, or do you type it? Or both? If you’re exclusively one or the other, do you ever wonder what it’s like to dabble in the other method?
In this article, we’ll look at why you might want to make the switch. Let’s get started!
The Case for Handwriting
Handwriting is certainly the older of these two methods. Shakespeare didn’t write Hamlet at his local Starbucks on a Macbook Air, after all. Therefore, handwriting carries a certain gravitas that typing doesn’t. I know when I’ve handwritten my work, it’s felt somehow more profound than my digital work. Maybe that’s because it’s immediately tangible—or maybe it’s the weight of history.
I’ve also found that handwriting offers fewer distractions than typing. When I type on my computer, I sometimes get pulled away by an incoming email or disappear down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. Not so with handwriting. When we sit down with our notebooks, we’re far less likely to get distracted and far more likely to focus on the writing itself.
The last thing (and maybe not that important, but still): Nothing makes you feel like a writer more than handwriting. If someone observes another person on a computer, for example, there are so many things that person might be doing. Maybe they’re coding, web surfing, online shopping, etc. But if you’re filling page after page with words, sentences, and paragraphs, there’s no mistaking you. You’re a writer!
The Case for Typing
So far as I’m aware, most everyone types faster than they write. That’s important for me since I do my writing in the morning before work, so I only have a two-hour window to hit my word count. If I wrote by hand, I don’t think I’d reach my mark.
Typing helps in the editing stages, too. It’s far easier to revise passages, splice two documents together, or rearrange entire chapters. Not so much with a handwritten piece. Note: This is especially relevant for novelists. Often, when writing such a long story, we’re going to have chapters that don’t work, passages that need to be reordered, or new chapters that need to be inserted. This is all nearly impossible to do with handwriting, but fairly easy by typing on a computer.
Finally (and perhaps most importantly for those reading this article), you can’t run handwritten work through ProWritingAid! That means issues like repeated words, sticky sentences, and grammatical gaffes might go unnoticed. Not good for a serious writer such as yourself.
Which Is Better?
This question ultimately comes down to personal preference. I hope this article gets your brain pumping, but ultimately, the decision is yours. Try both and see which works best for you.
I did. In fact, I used to handwrite all my fiction. I had several notebooks that I filled with words every day before work. I liked them because they were portable, and I often found myself working from my parked car.
However, once I started submitting the short stories I’d written, I quit handwriting and moved to typing. Why? Because I always ended up typing my work, anyway! No short story market is going to accept a handwritten story, no matter how good it might be. So, since I transcribed my work onto the computer, I figured I’d save myself the extra step and stick to typing.
Mind you, that change didn’t come without cost. I think I tend to be much sloppier while typing than I was while handwriting. Forming each letter with a pen mandates a heightened level of attention; I felt I was able to concentrate more on my writing while handwriting than typing. (And it doesn’t hurt that my notebook is sans an internet browser.)
Nonetheless, I’ve decided that the time savings are worth a slip in attention every now and then. The only way for you to decide for yourself is to try both methods.
Which have you used? Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!