Feeding the Creative Process: Handwriting vs Typing

Feeding the Creative Process: Handwriting vs Typing

One of my goals for this year is to organise my works in progress. I’m one of those insufferable people who, despite using organisation and tracking apps, can’t seem to keep my work in order.

You see, because my mind is always whirring, I have a tendency to write down my ideas in a notebook. While it may seem great that I have one notebook, I tend to switch between projects, which means it becomes a bit of a hodgepodge of extracts.

Knowing that I would be trying to wrangle newborn twins and a toddler, instead of putting pressure on myself (and my barely functioning brain) to write, I’ve instead tried to schedule time to type up all my notes so that I can properly organise my works in progress.

This got me thinking about the process of writing on paper versus typing.

The argument for handwriting

If you grew up writing on paper, like I did (how old?!), you may find that your creativity flows more freely with a pen in your hand. I’m always surprised when I go back to type up my work and I actually like what I’ve written. It happens much more often reading back paper-written rather than typed text.

One of my favourite authors to follow on Instagram is Hannah Orenstein (author of Playing with Matches, Head Over Heels and more). Hannah shares a lot of writing tips and shows her process, which has involved writing long hand on paper.

Writing on paper has allowed me to get down some of the best parts (in my opinion) of my writing so far. Plus, being able to slip a notebook in my bag when I’m going out somewhere is much more practical than lugging around my laptop. Sure, I could always jot down notes in my phone, but writing in a notebook has brought me much better results.

What about typing?

You can’t ignore the biggest argument for typing which is efficiency. You can cut and paste and move things around and easily edit your work. You don’t have to type up the written word. It’s definitely a timesaver.

Typing can also keep up with your mind. It can be very hard to write at the pace that your mind is working, thus slowing you down even more.

But, typing on a computer can often mean that things don’t come out as creatively as you’d like. You’re thinking about typing in a way that you don’t have to think about when you write on paper.

You also have other things competing with your mind on your computer, whether consciously or unconsciously. You might want to turn off your internet or set a timer for a sprint that keeps your focus. On the other hand, if you wanted to quickly Google something, the internet is just one click away if you have the self control to close your browser when you’re done.

I’m currently working on a mix of these two. I’m editing a creative nonfiction that I’ve typed onto my laptop while also editing a fiction by typing written pages. It might be the genre, but I’m much more entertained by typing up my handwritten pages than I am by editing my already typed work. The jury is still out on this one, but when I start writing again instead of editing, I’ll be testing out both options to see which one works best for me.

So, what do you think? Do the pros outweigh the cons for writing on paper, or is it much more efficient to stick with tapping away at a keyboard? Let me know your process.

One response to “Feeding the Creative Process: Handwriting vs Typing”

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