pen and paper or a computer

Some people have a strong opinion about whether it is better to write using a pen and paper or a computer but I guess for most of us it is more a question of what is most convenient at the time. For example, would you bother using a computer to write a shopping list or write a note for someone?  However, for things that are a bit longer, I typically start by scribbling some ideas down on paper and then move on to a computer.

Writing by hand

The pros

  • You think more about what you are writing and choose your words more carefully
  • A pen and paper is always to hand
  • You are less likely to edit as you go along and so your flow is uninterrupted
  • Crossing something out doesn’t mean it is deleted and lost forever
  • You can mark bits that need to be moved or looked at again
  • You are less likely to make spelling mistakes/typos
  • You don’t have to stare at a bright computer screen for hours
  • You have the pleasure of choosing and buying a lovely new notebook
  • You can write wherever you want (bus queues, park bench) because a notebook will easily slip into a pocket or bag
  • You don’t need a power supply or a fully charged battery or have to worry about your computer breaking down
  • You can doodle, create mind maps, bubble charts etc. etc. more easily on paper
  • It can be quicker if you are a hopeless typist

The cons

  • If you are out of the habit of writing by hand it can be more tiring
  • Bad hand writing may subsequently be illegible (even to you)
  • If you have covered your writing in crossed out words or sentences and arrows or other squiggles to indicate where things need to be edited, changed or moved, you may end up not being able to read it
  • Writing by hand is slower and takes more stamina
  • If your written notes are lost or stolen, you have no electronic backup

Using a computer

The pros

  • It’s faster, particularly if you are a regular computer user and a good typist
  • You can edit and format as you go along
  • You always have an electronic copy/backup
  • It’s possible to collaborate and share your work with other writers
  • You can publish your work quickly and easily on the internet
  • You can use an online spelling and grammar checker

The cons

  • It’s easier to make typos/spelling mistakes and so more checking is needed
  • If you are a inexperienced typist it can be frustrating and much slower
  • It may make you less thoughtful about what you write
  • Although it is easy to edit as you go along, this can hinder progress
  • It can be bad for your health (eye strain, repetitive strain injuries, back problems etc.)

So which is it? Pen and paper or a computer?

Well the most important thing is to write using whichever tools suit you best. But if you do have any strong opinions about writing with pen and paper or a computer, then do let us know.

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Pen and paper or a computer – which do you prefer?
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