The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: What Works Best for You?Edit
As technology has changed over the years, so have writing methods. Centuries ago, clay tablets with scribes gave way to quill and inkwell, which in turn matured into the ballpoint pen. In the 20th century alone, pen gave way to the typewriter, which shifted to the word processor and the computer. Even though the nature of writing itself has not changed, the process of that writing has. What has technology brought writers in the 21st century that they did not have in the 1st?
Go Speed, Go!Edit
The trouble with writing has always been getting the ideas from the brain to the paper. In ancient times, one sentence might take quite some time to write down (due to the physics of clay and stone). As a result, people thought about what they wanted to say more, then wrote it down. Today, many people can type close to (and faster than) 150 words per minute. That's a lot of writing to be pushing through into the world. However, does that necessarily make it better writing? No.
Just because we can write faster, does not mean that we write better. However, now it's easier to see what you're writing before you publish it. Drafts can be written and rewritten much faster than before. Many writers find it easier to punch out a quick draft now, then put it away and polish it later. The time saved by using a word processor in drafting alone makes it a much more productive tool than was ever in use before. However, many people still use the time-tested pen and paper for their drafting. What gives? Isn't it time they moved into the technological age and gave up such archaic methods?
Slow Down, Pardner!Edit
While writing faster may be useful for some people, the blank screen can be just as intimidating as the blank piece of paper. In order to overcome this writer's block, many writers feel comfortable with their pen in hand, and pad on the table. The feeling of writing becomes solid to them, as if they are sculpting words instead of just pushing them out of their heads. The time it takes for them to write becomes a comfortable pause as they take time to massage each word with the gentle push of their fingertips instead of the harsh push of a button on a keyboard.
In addition to the comfort factor, there are many times where writing with laptops, Palm Pilots, or other technological gadgets is simply too cumbersome. Having to type with thumbs on a crowded train may not be as easy as scribbling down a few lines of prose on the back of a newspaper or coffee napkin. Sometimes the need to write strikes when the only thing handy is a chewed down pencil and the envelope from last month's rent receipt. When writers want to write, they must write!
You Have Chosen WiselyEdit
Whatever method you choose for writing, it must be comfortable for you and your writing style. If you are the type that thinks fast and types faster, then a laptop might be the perfect writing tool for you. If you like to ponder your words before writing, then give pen and paper a try. More likely than not, you'll use a combination of the two. You'll type when you like it, and you'll write when you want to. Even though it seems like an extra step, transferring handwritten lines to a computer may be that drafting step that moves your rough stony work along the path towards that literary diamond that you've been polishing in your head for ages.
Don't be afraid to try your hand at any method that comes your way. One day, something will come along to replace the word processor, and writers will yet again have to adjust to another method of writing. However, until that day comes, many of us feel comfortable with pen in hand and paper on the table, waiting for inspiration to strike. At least we won't have to go back to those absurdly tedious stone tablets.