At least I can say that this week of blog neglect has allowed me to make an observation about my current writing preferences. Which is that I have shifted to preferring the computer over the old standby of pen and paper. And this bothers me.
Ever since I can remember, back to the fourth grade when I completed my first full “research” project on a specific country (which was essentially reporting facts and figures about East Germany), I always preferred to sketch out and write my rough drafts by hand. Resumes, poems, project plans, term papers, etc… I couldn’t formulate a thought unless I had jotted it down on paper first. Sitting in front of a computer (and actually a word processor back in the day) would create instant writer’s block for me.
Now that I’ve started to blog in addition to keeping a daily writing schedule, I find the problem is reverse for blog posts. I seem to draw a blank when sitting down with a pen and fresh pad of paper, yet have no problem sitting with WordPress open and typing up something within an hour.
However, when it comes to my daily writing exercises, I can easily write up to 4 pages of material within a 20 minute period. It is as though my brain is separating blog writing from my other writing.
Why does this bother me? Aside from the fact that it is a rapid change in habit, I’m fearing that perhaps my blog writing is becoming uninspired in such a short amount of time.
Lately, sitting in front of my spiral bound stack of white college ruled lined paper with medium point black ink pen in hand, the callous on the side of the middle finger on my left hand begins to ache a little. An instant energy drain is initiated and I can feel the pep and vigor slowly draining out through my head, hands and feet. Keep in mind this is usually before I’ve begun my daily writing exercise so it is not as though I’ve already been writing by hand.
Another reason this bothers me is because I’ve always been told in my English courses and writing workshops that writing by hand does more to stimulate creativity than typing. I always just accepted this factoid, but I recently decided to investigate this a little further.
Like most people with not enough waking hours to accomplish everything, I turned to Google. Several articles and sources turned up under “better to write by hand or computer”. Glancing through some of the actual studies conducted, the reasons cited in favor of writing by hand include:
- Writing by hand focuses your attention on one physical space (the paper) while typing splits your attention between the keyboard and the screen.
- Writing by hand is a slower process, giving you more time to really pay attention to your selection of words and formulation of ideas. This engages the part of your brain that emphasizes learning but typing does not strongly engage this part of the brain.
- There is more of a physical connection with your words when you write by hand versus typing.
So, it does appear there is some merit to the idea that writing by hand does stimulate your brain and creativity more so than typing.
Back to my situation. Perhaps I’m over-thinking this. After all, I haven’t given up writing by hand completely. It is just that I find it much faster and more convenient to prepare blog posts on the computer. I’ve come to the conclusion that my normal process of writing by hand maintains my creative flow and makes up for the increased time I’ve spent drafting blog entries on my laptop.
But, it led me to wonder if any other writers out there have spent as much time as I have on whether they should be writing by hand or if their time is better spent drafting everything on the computer?
So, to all you writers out there - what is your preference? Writing by hand or typing on the computer?