Pen and paper or keyboarding?

Books and articles for writers often extol the virtues of putting thoughts on paper with a pen. Some mention the physical connection between the brain and the hand. Some say that it is more natural to write by hand.

Other writers say that keyboarding is far superior, especially if there is a computer around. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal about the iPad compared to a tablet PC Steve Jobs said that on the tablet “…handwriting was probably the slowest input method ever invented and that it was doomed to failure.”

So, which is better? The answer, of course, is that it depends. It depends not just on the preference of the writer, but the time and situation as well. I sometimes feel more productive and creative when manipulating the keys. It’s sort of like playing a musical instrument, especially the piano. When thoughts and ideas are really flowing, writing by hand slows me down.

An yet, some of my better writing occurs when I write by hand, and then enter what I have written into the computer. This method creates a wonderful editing step. Sometimes I yearn for the pen. One thing I like about the pen is that I can doodle. I draw pictures, charts, cartoons and just whatever helps me organize my thoughts. Margins on paper are a great place to put down ideas or things that do not need to be forgotten or that the writer can come back to. I also like underlining, highlighting, arrows, circles, and the like. Using pen and paper to write is also more convenient, especially when traveling by air where it is almost impossible to open a laptop computer.

In short, whichever works better for the individual writer is the preferred choice.

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