Paper or Plastic?

Posted: August 18, 2013 in 90-Day Novel, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Everyone who has ever walked into a grocery store and had their goods bagged by the cashier knows this phrase like the back of their hand. They expect it, and they have their standard answer that pops out without a thought. Unless you’re me, in which case I typically add an “Um…” like I actually have to think about it, like I don’t already know what I’m going to say. To be honest, I know what I’m going to say 90% of the time, but it still feels like a conundrum, as though it’s possible there is a wrong answer.

The same can be said for the eternal question of writing: Longhand or Typed?

Everyone’s answer varies, and typically people fall in one camp or the other.

I may be wrong, but I believe as far as writing goes most people will say typed. Plastic. It’s faster. You don’t get those weird hand cramps after being at it for an hour. It’s infinitely malleable. You can type something up and delete it a moment later if it doesn’t sound right. Nothing is set in stone, it’s just a jumble of zeros and ones on a computer hard drive. It’s space friendly. A whole novel fits on a jump drive. In fact, you can fit many novels on a jump drive. The typed word is always legible (unless your fingers suddenly aren’t on the home keys). For those with the intent to publish, the work has to get typed up anyways, it might as well get created that way. The list goes on.

I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could think of many other reasons why typing is superior, but just like I always have the “um” when I have to answer the cashier, I have the same problem when I write. Sometimes I don’t want plastic. Sometimes I want paper. I want to feel the pen in my hand, the paper resting beneath my palm. Longhand is tactile in a way that typing is not, your hand moving to actually form the letters instead of plink them out on a keyboard. Maybe it’s just me, but I sometimes find it less intimidating to write longhand. Something about the ability to scratch something out of existence is infinitely pleasing. There is no accusing stare of a blank screen, and if you happen to doodle in the margins while you think, so be it. Not to mention I can literally bring it everywhere. There is no need for electricity to power this apparatus, but if I run out of ink that could be a problem. Best to pack two pens.

The more I write, the more I realize I prefer a marriage between the two. For basic ideas, penning down of scenes and dialogue, I really do prefer a pen. The stress is minimal. I’m just putting down ideas, nothing concrete. After those ideas are down I can take that notebook over to the desk, sit down in front of the computer, and type it out, adding in things I didn’t have time  for in a first draft, refining as I go.

After putting forth all my energy into Camp NaNoWriMo I’ve wandered back to The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watts, working through writing exercises in a notebook, relaxing, playing with the world and reminding myself that nothing is permanent. It all can be ripped from existence, crumpled, and tossed into the garbage. The manuscript I finished during Nano was my typical hybrid approach. I wrote some out longhand, went to the computer, fleshed it out, and continued to type until I hit a block and had to go back to the pen. For my 90-Day novel I think I’m going to go completely longhand. All the prep-work has been longhand so far, and I think I want to see what it’s like to only have a written draft, to stop fiddling in the middle and just continue onwards. I do fiddle when I type. I edit word choice, add things, delete things, make sentences more succinct. I think for the 90 day, I want to see what its like to do it in order. To have a full first draft before I start fiddling with it.

Besides, I have a lot of notebooks that are just sitting around collecting dust.



  1. Cat Lumb says:

    I have nominated you for an award. Feel free to share the appreciation of well-written blogs and interesting topics through acceptance by going here:

    No pressure. This is just my way of thanking you for sharing your thoughts.
    Take Care, Cat x

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