Pen vs. keys

There’s a palpable difference between writing with a pen, and tapping away at a keyboard.


I’ve always preferred writing longhand; my thoughts seem to flow more easily. There is also less pressure to write finished and polished sentences, with just the right words and the perfect structure. The very act of moving a pen, rather than static tapping of buttons, seems to fit more naturally with the way I think.

You can go back and add things on paper, comments which are clearer and more useful to me than tracked changes on Word. You can underline, and doodle and decorate. If a thought takes you in a new direction, you can follow it.

Writing on paper also seems to simply matter more. It’s why I decided to send my friends and family letters and postcards, not just emails when I was travelling. The permanence makes you focus. You choose your words, rather than resting comfortably in the knowledge that the backspace key is always there to save you.

It works well, for me at least, to write out ideas and plans and structures longhand, before I type them up. I’m not seriously advocating a whole novel written on paper instead of a screen (although isn’t the idea enticing?). But to use each medium for its strengths; take the best of both and use it to hone your writing is a far nicer way to work.

Do you ever write with a pen anymore? If not, why not?