Drafting: Write on paper or type on computer?

What’s the best way to write your book: writing it out by hand on paper or typing on a computer?

Interestingly, this is a hotly debated topic among writers. A number of discussion boards list it as a topic, and it receives the same passionate responses as an Englishman and Frenchman arguing the merit of the Euro.

It’s a matter of personal preference, of course. That preference may in part be a matter of when one grew up – for those raised in the pre-computer years (say anyone over 43), paper may simply feel more natural. For those raised after PCs became omnipresent (say anyone under 43) in everyday life, a pen may seem quite quaint.

Writing your book by hand does to have some advantages. Personally (and I’m of the over 43 crowd), I find that my writing has more flow to it as there are fewer interruptions from a word processing program’s constant green and red underlines telling me that I’ve just mistyped a word; I too often begin revising my draft before I’ve even gotten very far writing it. Speaking of such interruptions, writing a manuscript by hand can enhance a writer’s ability to stay focused on their writing. After all, when the words don’t come there’s no giving in to checking your email or responding to the latest Facebook message.

At the same time, I must admit that almost everything I write these days (including this blog entry) is done on a computer. First, writers can more easily edit as going along than waiting until the end of the draft to proofread. The result is a cleaner draft when finally saving the document. More important, though, is the computer’s advantage of portability. Writers using a computer can carry an array of their stories and notes that might otherwise require a file cabinet if it were all in paper format; because of this, when inspiration strikes for a story you’d set aside months before, you easily can access it.

How a story written on paper vs. the computer is shaped by the tool used to create certainly would be intriguing to examine. After all, stories delivered by different mediums – newspaper vs. television, for example – are affected by the way they are delivered. Any takers on this research project?