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Why Do People Prefer To Write On Computer


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#31 Journaler

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 15:49

Like others have said, text prepared with the computer is easier to edit, share with multiple people and search.  So, if the document I'm producing has those characteristics, I type it.  If not, I tend to hand write it.

 

I learned to touch-type on a computer about 35 years ago (one of the most useful skills I ever acquired).  Even when I choose to type, unless it is something very short, I mind-map the topic with pen and paper before typing onto a computer or writing by hand.  I find the computer engenders a linear mode of thought (rather like writing ideas out as a list on paper) and therefore inhibits the free flow of ideas.  Mind-maps seem to allow me to get all my thoughts down and worry about structure later.  I've tried mind-mapping apps but they don't work work as well as pen and paper does for me.  

 

When typing I use special text only editors for the first draft so that I can focus on the quality of the text without being distracted by format.  I format the document only after I'm satisfied with the words.  

 

Although this process of paper before keyboard sounds slow, it is actually faster in the long run.  Using pen and paper first means that the thoughts I wish to express are more complete and logically organised before I touch a keyboard.  I therefore require fewer drafts.  It also tends to result in fewer torn up pieces of paper when trying to write letters.

 

On a day to day basis I use both paper and electronic journals.  The former is easier to use in meetings or on the phone, the latter are easier to search and carry around.



#32 sgage

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 15:50

I thought the question for this thread was 'why do people prefer to write on a computer'. In the workaday bizzness world, or preparing papers for school, etc., we all use word processors, of course. That doesn't necessarily mean we 'prefer' it. I mean, I get all the reasons people have given for using word processors, and gave a few of my own. But I PREFER to write with a FP... :-)



#33 SujiCorp12345

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 16:23

As for formatting, latex does the job 1000x better than me on paper with my handwriting. In most cases people don't accept physical documents anymore so there's really no point in writing something by hand and faxing or scanning and attaching the image to an email.

I agree. I use LaTeX  whenever I submit assignments for math- it looks way more professional than just writing out. That said, I still prefer to take my notes with FPs just for comfort.


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#34 Bookman

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 16:28

I thought the question for this thread was 'why do people prefer to write on a computer'. In the workaday bizzness world, or preparing papers for school, etc., we all use word processors, of course. That doesn't necessarily mean we 'prefer' it. I mean, I get all the reasons people have given for using word processors, and gave a few of my own. But I PREFER to write with a FP... :-)

 

The distinction might be blurred for those who see the issue narrowly as an all-or-nothing proposition and whose free choice—FP versus computer keyboard—has been taken away and replaced by a veritable ultimatum laid down by circumstances they've created for themselves: use a computer or don't bother writing it, use a computer or find another career.


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#35 rwilsonedn

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 17:12

I wonder if there is some confusion over different meanings of the word write. It can mean the physical process of recording strings of characters. Or it can mean preparing a document in a format. (Both of these are tasks that stenographers used to do, that have somehow devolved upon content creators in our ill-lit search for productivity.) Or it can mean the creative process of composition. There are appropriate tools for all three activities. Today, you can do most character-capture activities with a voice-input system--they have become quite good, even on mobile devices. For most documents that don't include illustration or illumination, word processors are very efficient document-preparation tools. But neither of those categories addresses the task of composition, which for me at least is slow, arduous, and subject to a lot of head-scratching. A faster means of capturing characters or entering them into a nice format would have absolutely no impact on the elapsed time, and in my experience a negative impact on the quality of results.

So I find I tend to work something like this: if I'm just making a note to myself or sending a short message, I tend to dictate it. If I'm creating a document with content simple enough for me to get it all into my head at once, I keyboard it. If I'm composing content, I do at least one hand-written draft. It is just as fast, far easier to edit (I can cut and paste by drawing a cross or an arrow) and a lot more fun than sitting at a keyboard pretending that I know what I want to write next.

Other people work in different ways.

ron



#36 Sasha Royale

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 23:19

Paid $800 for the dang thing.  Better find as many uses as possible.   :rolleyes:



#37 SujiCorp12345

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 23:35

Paid $800 for the dang thing.  Better find as many uses as possible.   :rolleyes:


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#38 ac12

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 00:14

As has been said, a lot has to do with how you were taught and brought up through school.

And I would have killed to have a word processor when I was in college.  I used an electric typewriter WITHOUT the magic erase key that the IBM Selectric had.  Correction was with liquid white out, or correction tape. 

 

I was taught in college to do a mind dump first, to get all the data out of your head.  And the electric typewriter was soooo much faster than a pen in my hand.  So by extension, any mind dump activity is faster with a computer than a pen and paper.  The reason is, you can forget thoughts and ideas very quickly.  The mind dump is to get it on paper, before you forget it.  After it is on paper, then you go back and organize.

 

Today with the computer, you can easily organize and clean up the mind dump after it is in the computer; cut and paste to move stuff around, insert and delete text, change formatting, and correct grammer and spelling.

With a typewriter, the reorg was with a scissors and tape, then a full retype of the document.

With a pen, it was similar to the typewriter.

 

When I turned in stuff to the professor, anything that could be typed was typed.  This was purely for readability.  Because when I was a grader, if I could not read the students answer, he got a 0 for that question.  And I was not about to loose points due to my poor penmanship.  Besides I could type WAY faster than I could write legibly, so I could finish my homework faster on the typewriter.

 

Even today, when doing something for work I will 95% of the time use a computer to do it.  The remaining 5% is split among other items such as initial planning, organization ideas, content thought, etc.  I quickly get stuff on to the computer so it won't get lost or forgotten.

 

Now when it comes to graphical plans (house and landscape plans, wood/shop projects, etc), then I am 95% paper during the initial concept phase, and only shift to the computer when the concept is solidified.  This is because the CAD and drawing tools that I have, do not support the free thinking concept phase of planning.


Edited by ac12, 11 June 2014 - 20:54.


#39 Water Ouzel

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 06:46

I've been a technical writer/editor since 1978. There's really no alternative for my work (and you can believe that the tools for writing now are enormously better for long/complex documents than back then). Starting work on something for a new hardware device, though, seems to be easier if I can write/outline/sketch by hand at the beginning.

 

That said, if I'm going to write a letter to my adult kids, or sketch out an idea, or make some quick notes, the fountain pen is a lot more pleasant to use.



#40 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:07

Before I bought my first computer, I very often composed first drafts by hand, transcribed them with a typewriter, and edited by hand on typed copy. Sometimes very copious edits.

 

What I discovered was that the slowness of writing by hand did not improve my writing, but rather detracted from many possibilities of fluency or even brilliance. Some people can do what's called free writing by hand and experience a meaningful lessening of inhibition. The writing they do without checking spelling or grammar or worthwhileness truly is freer than what they'd otherwise write.

 

Not so for me. I can write cleaned-up copy as rapidly as I can get the words down. I can talk clean copy. No liberation at all with pen in hand. For at least a little more freedom I've had to use the typewriter or the computer. Other people's experience obviously differs. I still love the physical and mental voluptuousness that comes of writing with a generous fountain pen. But I know I'm losing something, and am not always willing to lose that 20% or 30% or 40% of the mind at play. And the text still comes out pretty clean. We are born with differing nervous systems.



#41 mhm802

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:55

BC (before computers) I always did first drafts by hand, usually on legal pads, skipping lines to leave lots of space for editing/revising.  My thinking always slowed down and froze up sitting in front of a typewriter, manual or electric.  I'd write out first drafts, do a rough edit by hand, and then type up that draft and scribble all over it for the next stages of revision.  

 

When I confronted a computer/word processor for the first time, I assumed the process would be similar and distrusted starting from scratch with a white screen (blue in those DOS days).  And then I discovered an oddity, for me, somehow the computer is almost as fluid as the pen, and far easier as a drafting medium that a blank piece of paper in a typewriter ever was (at least for me YMMV).  

 

So today I tend to use both paper/pen or computer/word processor interchangeably for drafting and writing, depending on the circumstance or particular situation.  I do not miss the typewriter/whiteout/correction tape days at all. 



#42 Biber

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 12:55

It depends on the context and convenience. As we haven't do computer at home, at least not yet, I would print off texts and edit by hand, occasionally fountain pen. I guess I'm not an FP die hard as I would prefer a ball point or roller ball because of the nib drying out and capping issues while I read and pondered changes.  



#43 Bookman

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 14:42

... I can write cleaned-up copy as rapidly as I can get the words down. I can talk clean copy. No liberation at all with pen in hand. For at least a little more freedom I've had to use the typewriter or the computer. Other people's experience obviously differs. I still love the physical and mental voluptuousness that comes of writing with a generous fountain pen. But I know I'm losing something, and am not always willing to lose that 20% or 30% or 40% of the mind at play. And the text still comes out pretty clean. We are born with differing nervous systems.

 

No need to revise?  Has anyone called Guinness?  Seriously, whether handwriting, typing, or dictating drafts, if I didn't have a deadline screaming at me to get something out the door I would always find something else to change.  An appellate brief could easily go through a dozen sets of revisions.  A word here, a punctuation mark there.  Nothing is ever good enough.  At some reasonable point I have to stop the quest for perfection and sign the danged thing, but never because it's good enough.  And I would throttle anyone under me if I ever heard him or her say, "That's good enough."  I guarantee you that if Mark Twain could come back from the dead he would make a thousand so-called "minor" revisions to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Edited by Bookman, 11 June 2014 - 14:48.

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#44 Biber

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 15:09

 

No need to revise?  Has anyone called Guinness?  Seriously, whether handwriting, typing, or dictating drafts, if I didn't have a deadline screaming at me to get something out the door I would always find something else to change.  An appellate brief could easily go through a dozen sets of revisions.  A word here, a punctuation mark there.  Nothing is ever good enough.  At some reasonable point I have to stop the quest for perfection and sign the danged thing, but never because it's good enough.  And I would throttle anyone under me if I ever heard him or her say, "That's good enough."  I guarantee you that if Mark Twain could come back from the dead he would make a thousand so-called "minor" revisions to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hear hear!    I've published more than a dozen scholarly articles and never given up editing and revising until I get proofs from the publisher. And even then, in one instance I managed to submit an entirely revised version of my paper! I cringe when I read some of my older papers and wonder how I ever let some of it get by without revision. Writing truly is an art, especially when it comes to saying what you mean and meaning what you say - dammit, if only words didn't mean things! (if you actually know the difference between affect and effect, you'll understand what I'm talking about)  Oh well... that was another lifetime, though I do miss it.



#45 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 16:31

For me, it depends on the purpose of writing. For brainstorming or a rough draft, I prefer to handwrite. It's easier to connect and more portable. But, subsequent drafts are typed. A typed version is cleaner, easier to reread, easier to edit, and easier to pass to others.

 

I also prefer to handwrite notes. Maybe it's the math/science thing, but so many things are difficult to put in a typed form.  In a written form, no problem.


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#46 FountainPenCowgirl

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 16:37

I write by hand to think (same reasons many have already listed) and as a matter of convenience (never without at least a pocket notebook). But I'm also a professional writer and academic, so there are myriad reasons to rely on a range of tools in the day.

Some are obvious: I couldn't turn in a handwritten news release, dissertation, blog post or article. Others are increasingly a matter or process (routine things that are re-used or adapted over time) and accessibility (being able to have easy access wherever).

Each experience has its place and its strengths (and, by extension, weaknesses). Harnessing them to work the best for us is the challenge/opportunity.


Edited by FountainPenCowgirl, 11 June 2014 - 19:00.


#47 GabrielleDuVent

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 19:25

I write with PC when I'm not brainstorming, and when I have a fairly clear idea of what I'm going to write; this is simply because I type far faster than I write. My wpm is something like 120, 150wpm. I, of course write far slower than that, and when I'm trying to get the sentences out onto a medium before it disappears from my head, typing's just easier. 

 

I, of course, can't type equations, so I just handwrite them and then type them out later. Notes are almost always done by hand, unless it's one of those 60 slides in one lecture and spitting out words at the rate of an automatic machine gun type of a fellow. 

 

I edit by hand. There are about a zillion mistakes I catch on paper that I simply don't on screen (kindle included). It's odd, and I can probably qualify as a certified tree-murderer. 


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#48 beak

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 01:44

..............I edit by hand. There are about a zillion mistakes I catch on paper that I simply don't on screen.........................

Absolutely!  For me too, the screen seems to hide errors, somehow, and it is only in the 'hard copy' form, that the errors are finally cleared up.  Don't know why this is, but would like to.


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#49 Water Ouzel

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 05:15

Absolutely!  For me too, the screen seems to hide errors, somehow, and it is only in the 'hard copy' form, that the errors are finally cleared up.  Don't know why this is, but would like to.

It's even worse than that.

 

After the umpteenth hardcopy edit is wrapped up and the document is printed and out for customers ... you'll find at least one more obvious error to fix.



#50 damonism

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 10:54

I enjoy handwriting, but my handwriting is quite slow — presumably it was even slower after having spent several years at university taking notes in lectures.

I do a lot of writing for work, but I find modern word processors often quite frustrating. If I need to write a few thousand words in an afternoon, I'll grab my iPad and bluetooth keyboard and find a nice quiet spot to work, and then email it to myself to edit in Word when I'm done. If I had the luxury of time I'd probably do that by hand, but it's pretty rare that I have the time.

I think there are good reasons that there are so many programs that claim to be "distraction free" writing tools these days. Yes, we often need the gagillion formatting options Word and LaTeX give us at some point — but they inevitably get in the way of writing.

On the other hand, I go to lots of meetings and workshops and conferences where I take notes by hand (usually with a fountain pen in a Leuchtturm notebook). On the odd occasion these need to be digitised, I scan them and import them into OneNote or EverNote and get the best of both worlds.

#51 eduardp

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 11:49

My summarized story. I started with fountain pen and learned to type using a typewriter, although I'm in my mid-thirties but the economical context did not helped. I must say I can type really fast and also my handwriting has some speed (although it loses in legibility). There were periods in which I thought that one medium is better than other (in some ways the typewriter and the computer for me are one single experience), but in the end I discovered that I enjoy all of them. Handwriting has something special in it and reminds me sometimes of the consistency the dreams have; the computer really connects me to the paper and the flow is almost uninterrupted.

Lately I came to the conclusion that first drafts are better done using a computer so that the flow is not interrupted. Outlines and editing always by hand. But who knows - tomorrow will be different and that is the beauty of it. In the end I'm happy I still find a great pleasure using a pen and a paper, so no matter what happens I will still be able to write.



#52 cjr

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 11:51

I've been using computers since the 70's. It's easy to save and find anything I've written. However, I like handwriting with fountain pens because of the interaction of pen, ink, and paper. It just gives your senses a more complete experience. I use the computer for programming and writing reports and research. I use FPs for notes and journaling.

 

I'm surprised no one mentioned the ultimate benefit of handwriting vice computers -- should we ever experience a technology crisis and the world loses access to power and computers, we will still have quill and ink! Even with technology, I've got stacks of floppy disks with reports and documents that I have no way of reading anymore! Seems like eveyr ten years technology advances and leaves behind the old storage systems. The inks and paper we use today aren't too different from the papyrus the Egyptians were using thousands of years ago. Try picking up an old floppy disk and reading the files on it with the latest laptop computer.



#53 Rubicon

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 15:09

Because it's quicker and easier and you get to edit. Think about it. Aside from older people who can't get used to technology as fast as younger people can, what generation of people actually didn't prefer the quicker, easier way? Even my mother, who is tech illiterate, is starting to forget how to write by hand. Letters declined when telegrams were invented. Department stores and supermarkets struggle because of online shopping. Nobody calls anymore now that we have skype.

 

 

For me, it depends on the purpose of writing. For brainstorming or a rough draft, I prefer to handwrite. It's easier to connect and more portable. But, subsequent drafts are typed. A typed version is cleaner, easier to reread, easier to edit, and easier to pass to others.

 

I also prefer to handwrite notes. Maybe it's the math/science thing, but so many things are difficult to put in a typed form.  In a written form, no problem.

Well, there's Latex. But in all seriousness, some of my classmates have a serious Latex addiction. They would rather write 

 

 

\[\{V_{\alpha} | \alpha \in A\}\] 

Than, you know, what it's supposed to be. That's the part I don't fully understand. But they do gush about how pretty and "pro" it looks, so I guess there's that.


Edited by Rubicon, 12 June 2014 - 15:13.


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#54 fljones3

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 15:22

I see writing by hand or computer as tools. Use the proper tool depending on the situation. Personally, if I am going to write anything longer than a page or two I much prefer to handwrite (then type or dictate into the computer), time permitting. Things that are quick or do not demand as much thought I just type it on the computer.

 

I have tried minimalist word processors but I still get tied up into thinking about formatting. Hand writing allows me to use my pens ( :D), see the ink dry, mark through words, and think about what I want to say.  Does it take longer? Perhaps. It is more engaging and has personality.


Edited by fljones3, 12 June 2014 - 15:26.


#55 WriteAway

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 01:03

For speed and facilitating thought, the word processor tops my list. I know and use the software that helps me get my thoughts to paper fast, so I can get more of the moment on record. Pens are great fun and totally creative at times, but my brain ends up moving on to the next thought before I can fully write down my current idea. With the computer I get more idea down per session than with any other tool. I always do any formatting after the writing is complete.  

 

Hand cramps from cheap BPs? Ha! You don't know hand cramps unless you try to write with 1970's office crud pens in the snow at -20 degrees in an upstate New York deep freeze as a small town newspaper reporter! Only pencils write at those temps, and your fingers and hands quickly remind you of your own physical limits. 

 

For deep creative periods, my FPs enable relaxation and deeper thinking. But they still serve to put thoughts to paper. I don't obsess over ink colors and use only F or M nibs in my pens. I do the same thing with my BPs, my RBs and my MPs. I own and use Parkers, Sheaffers, Bexleys, Cross, Pilot, and other lesser-known brands of FP. However, I own far more non-FPs and they all do what I want them to - transfer my thoughts to the written form. 

 

But I can do it all much quicker on a computer.



#56 ac12

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 05:05

A few of you sound like me, faster on the keyboard than the pen.

 

I learned to type in 8th grade.  And as much as I grumbled, that was one of the best classes my parents made me take.  Cuz I relied on typing, fast typing, ever since.

 

I typed reports and case studies all thru grad school, LOTS of them.  So I really learned to type, and type FAST.

In one of my my early jobs, my girlfriend was the word processing supervisor.  She knew I typed and was on the computer a lot, so one day she challenged me to a typing test, to see just how fast I could type.  I surprised her and her girls, and me.  I matched their typing speed, and my accuracy was just a bit less than them.  I don't remember the numbers, but it was high enough to get their attention.  Those years of typing in college really developed my typing muscle memory.  The only thing that I could not type with any speed was numbers.  I had to wait for the computer keyboard with the separate 10-key pad.

 

I college I had to take notes in class, without knowing shorthand.  Now shorthand was a class that I wish my parents made me take.  As I sped up my writing, the neatness and legibility went down.  The faster I wrote, the worse the handwriting got.  A few year of college destroyed my handwriting penmanship.  Each night I would go over my notes and rewrite them in longhand or typed, just so I could read the class notes later.  If I waited a couple of days, I would forget the class and not be able to read nor understand what I wrote.

 

So even today, if I have to write a LOT, especially with any kind of deadline, I hit the keyboard.

 

And Walter's comment hits me.  I wrote a book for a prior employer.  It went through MANY edits and reviews.  1 week after it was printed, I saw a mistake.  GRRRR   :angry:


Edited by ac12, 14 June 2014 - 05:07.


#57 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 08:07

@Bookman: No need to revise? I never wrote that I had no need to revise.

 

But yes, the world of genre fiction used to abound in writers who could publish first-draft copy that had had little or no revision. I never even aspired to be one of those. The art of living includes what is for many of us a difficult area: accepting that that is what I actually wrote, and I can move on. Which is a subset of the larger category of accepting that yes, that is what I actually said, that is what I actually did, and I can move on. 

 

First I thought writers went through this but painters didn't, and then I got to know painters. Ha ha. But for years I chose to think photographers knew how to get it right and, better still, to know that they had gotten it right. Then I asked a famous and commercially successful photographer noted for what other people consider the high quality of his prints. Speaking one word at a time, with pauses, he said, "I hate to go into the darkroom."

 

Yesterday I had lunch with a photographer who said that it takes him at least two years to accept anything he's done. (In photography. I didn't ask about love and life.) So, no, I can't imagine writing that I have no need to revise. But I also have at least a wish to get more out of myself than what will seem and arguably be good enough. That may call for getting words down faster than slow and 100% correct allows me. Ergo, the computer for first drafting.



#58 amk

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 12:48

Different strokes, different folks, they say, and different implements too. As a journalist, I tend to plan pieces by hand rather loosely, using FP on whatever paper is to hand. As several other posters have said, it seems to bring the thoughts out of my brain more easily. I also use a lot of arrows, circles, doodles, underlinings, to emphasise and link ideas till I have the basic plan out right - might not mean anything to anyone else but it makes things clear for me.

 

Then I'll type the piece up. I wouldn't write longhand drafts - just too much editing to do - and of course the final piece needs sending to my editor as a document file, not in a cleft stick as per William Boot's dispatches.

 

Fiction I will tend to type directly, 'storyboarding' using an outline in the document and then replacing the description ("the Gladiator meets Spartacus") by the actual text as I go. But whenever I get to a problem area, I'll map out the scene or concepts on paper and that seems to solve problems that I can't think through at the computer. I also use pen and paper when I'm thinking about imagery, vocabulary, characters... anything that's not the linear narrative.

 

Yes, I do think the PC and the FP address different aspects of our brains. PC is linear access - FP is random access. PC is words only; FP allows all kinds of doodling.