Are You a Handwriter or a Typer?

by Vincent Mars


Handwriting is like making love; typing, like having sex. It’s essentially the same enjoyable activity, but the approach is slightly different.

When writing my story, I am both a handwriter and a typer. I handwrite first drafts, character sketches, and scenes. I also brainstorm ideas on paper. I type everything else.

I handwrite early in the morning when birds are chirping, and late at night, when owls are hooting. I dislike to begin or end my day in front of my laptop screen because it tires my eyes and clouds my head.

On typing

Typing is fast, easy, and convenient. The sensation of my fingertips pressing on the keys is glorious, almost like touching something round and soft and warm and milky… But sometimes typing feels hasty, like I am writing too fast more words than I should write. The impulse to press enter, break the paragraph, and move on to the next, without actually finishing the current, is strong, and sometimes maddening.

Typing brings about a sense of urgency, a desire to finish everything and do it fast. When I have a word count to reach, and time is pressing, that is good. But when I struggle to put my thoughts in order and say exactly what I mean, it’s not.

On handwriting

Handwriting is slow, beautiful, and graceful. When I handwrite I think on paper. My handwriting is intelligible, rounded and curvy like a girl’s, so reading it later is not a problem. But sometimes handwriting is too slow. When I am a brimming with ideas, I feel the pen is holding me back.

The words do not write themselves fast enough, and I have to queue ideas, and my thumb begins to hurt, and I fret on my chair because ideas spark faster than they can be queued, and sometimes the terrible happens, and one of the queued ideas vanishes like a pretty girl in the night and I try to catch her and to hold her, to make her stay a little longer, but she is already gone and I am only groping at thin air… Heartbrake. Something lost that will never return. Paper, pen, you’ve let me down, so I will let you down. Back to typing.

Advantages of handwriting

  • A slow, graceful, artistic process
  • Lets me think on paper
  • Helps me say almost what I mean
  • Encourages me to introspect
  • Does not tire my eyes like a laptop screen does
  • Makes me think more about the details

Advantages of typing

  • A fast and impetuous process
  • Capable of generating spontaneous ideas
  • Good for playing with language
  • Lets me quickly change and rearrange words
  • Tires my hands less than handwriting does
  • Good for the trees

On transcribing…

I often have to transcribe what I have handwritten because all my story files are in an online document format, which makes storage and especially rewriting and editing more convenient. So sometimes even if I want to handwrite, I am forced to type, because I do not have the time to transcribe. I try to handwrite as much as I can though.

In the end…

Good thing there’s no need to choose between handwriting and typing! One can have them both. It’s the same activity, only the approach is different…

PS: This week I am republishing some of my favorite posts.

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