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Why Do People Prefer To Write On Computer

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#21 Kataphract


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 02:36

why do most people seem to think that it's easier to write on a computer (especially young people, though i am young myself) rather than by hand?
for me writing by hand eliminates all the trouble of formatting and other troubles. it's also much easier on your eyes and brain, you don't have to think about as much extra stuff like where the cursor is and you don't have to look at a bright screen all the time.
plus when i'm writing I don't want to be too modern. I don't always like all this technology around me  (but equally often I just love how science fiction the world around me is).¨
that said I do do a lot of stuff on the computer like gaming and browsing the internet for a large part of my day. I just don't like to write or do crosswords or anything like that on it.

So...any particular reason you didn't write that out by hand, scan it and post it that way? Answer that and I think you have answered your own question.

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#22 Runnin_Ute


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 02:46

It depends on what I am writing. For a lot of things I like to hand write. For some things, it is impractical - and others impossible. Like when I was teaching - if I assigned a paper it had to be done APA format. I was required to have the students do it that way. Next to impossible to do that hand written. (I wasn't the APA nazi though - I left that to other faculty members. If it was the basic format I was good. I was more concerned about content.)


The 10 page reports - no way I would want to do those by hand. The computer is just better for some things. In college, I had my wife type stuff up for me that had to be typewritten for my classwork. And most of those were 3-5 pages. She is a faster typist AND more accurate. I still don't have the speed, but I am "fast enough".


Like someone else said, they compliment each other. Not sure if I would want to hand write a Masters thesis or Doctoral dissertation and then type it for submission.


With all that being said, sometimes handwriting is better because you don't have that distraction called "the internet".



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#23 tonybelding


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 02:57

I have no problem writing letters -- long letters -- by hand, not to mention my journal entries.


However...  My attempts to compose prose fiction with pen and paper hit a brick wall.  I just can't do it anymore.  It seems that my process of composition and editing have become so entangled that I can no longer do them separately.

Edited by tonybelding, 10 June 2014 - 02:57.

#24 penmanila



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Posted 10 June 2014 - 03:19

i love fountain pens (obviously, if i have over 200 of them) but i don't let romance get in the way of practicality. i work as a professor and also as a professional writer and editor, and computers give me many options i just can't have with handwriting--cut-and-paste, quick revision, saving the file, spell-checking, Google, email, etc. if i had to write all my output by hand i wouldn't be able to get 10% of my workload done by the end of the day--and then that output would have to be manually encoded by somebody else, who would likely introduce errors into the text. computers were invented for a reason. writing by hand may force us to think more about what we're writing, which is a good thing, but i can't agree that it necessarily improves the quality of the finished work--you're less likely to revise a handwritten essay, for example, just because of the tediousness of rewriting the entire draft.

#25 Auspice



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Posted 10 June 2014 - 03:52

As an aspiring author, I prefer to write my first/rough draft on the computer. Why? It's mostly a brain dump. I need to be able to work fast sometimes or I lose what I was thinking. I also use 'Q10' which is a 'distraction free' program. It doesn't tell me about my grammar. It doesn't warn me something is spelled incorrectly. It takes over the entire screen and only displays the information I want. It also has a handy function in which I can hit '.. <note>' and have a searchable database of the notes I tossed in as I was writing. This keeps me focused in one place. 


However, that said...


Notes regarding the story? My timeline? My character notes? All get written by hand first. I have a database I put things in later (again: searchable). 


I also print out my rough/first draft and go through it with a pen, making note and marking off anything vital. I'll also sometimes write certain scenes, dialogue, etc., by hand... But when I'm writing, say, a battle scene in a fantasy setting? My mind goes as fast as the action. My hand could never keep up.

#26 MattD


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 04:09

I usually write long handed when working on fiction. It keeps me from getting ahead of myself, and thwarts my tendency to want to reword, rearrange, and change constantly. I can, and have, spent three hours on a computer writing, and had less than a page for my efforts. An extensively edited page, but only one.

When I handwrite, my brain doesn't have to rush to keep a steady flow of words. It is more relaxing, for sure.

On the other hand, sometimes the words come in a torrent, and I can't keep up with a pen. To try is to risk losing the thread. So, at those times I grab my little ultra book and go at it. Even then, I am sometimes not fast enough, and witty dialog and nifty twists disappear forever.

It takes me a little more than two minutes to type a handwritten page that takes me 30 minutes to write, so I am much, much faster at typing. It is kind of depressing sometimes, when moving something into the computer for editing!

#27 pschwartz


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 04:37

This is a fascinating discussion, thanks everyone for their contribution. I also transitioned from pen and paper, to typewriter to computer, to voice activated cell phone and have not gone back seeking access to those 'ancient areas of the brain'. The technologies each shape what we write and the shaping is significantly different. I recently read an interesting book on Gandhi--Gandhi's Printing Press, by a South African writer, Isabel Hofymyer who makes a great case from slow reading and slow writing... something that Gandhi tried to achieve with his fountain pen and then a hand operated printing press. He was fond of quoting Thoreau's warning that going too fast would 'macadamize' the mind. That is an old word for 'paving'. So here's to the rutted roads, the wandering paths and the uneven ground of handwriting!

#28 LBpens



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Posted 10 June 2014 - 14:26

Depends on what I'm writing. If it's a journal, it is stream of consciousness and I write it on paper. If it is something for publication, I edit some as I go, and often move paragraphs around, see how they read that way, and sometimes move them back. Besides, I will eventually have to enter it into word anyway.

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#29 Biber


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 14:51

The ability (convenience actually) to add, delete, correct, revise, and edit as you go. The last paper I wrote the first draft entirely by hand was in the fall of 1995.

#30 Blazing



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Posted 10 June 2014 - 15:45

Although many of us here are big pen enthusiasts, I think that we all have to admit that fountain pens aren't always the best option. There are many benefits to typing things up on a computer, such as the option to easily replace pieces of text and edit them without having to cross them out [which ends up looking ugly]. It is also quicker to type and easier to learn to type fast than it is to learn how to write fast.

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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 Suji


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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.


#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:

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#37 Suji


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Posted 10 June 2014 - 23:35

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

For the fountain pen or the computer? :P

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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.

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#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.

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