The following is a guest post written by Melissa Chan of Literary Book Gifts.
Pen and Pad or Laptop? Why the Platform You Write On Matters
It is undeniable that much of writing takes place brainstorming, jotting down ideas on fragments of paper, or just working through plots and characters in one’s mind. But when it comes down to getting the words on paper and into a cohesive draft, there are plenty of different ways in which this task can be accomplished. In recent years smartphones and other writing software have the ability to replace even the classic blank page document. Digital computers and the technology within them has come a long way and really made an impact on the ways it is possible to write.
It can be easy to say, “well this doesn’t matter, writing is simply one’s ideas and the way in which you get them out of your head into a book is not of any consequence.” But I’m not entirely sure this is true. Here are a few reasons why I think the platform you write on matters, perhaps they will help you consider how you write and how it might affect your finished work.
I am personally a fan of paper over the laptop. I’ve not written anything of substance just yet, but on the occasions that I have tried it to do so, I have had much more success with pen to paper. With ink and unlined paper I am seemingly able to get my ideas out faster. Although this may appear counterintuitive since like most people I can type at a much faster rate than I can write with a pen, it is something that works for me. The digital interface doesn’t allow for arrows, scribbling out parts of sentences while leave traces of what was left behind, or doodles on the edges. New writing programs may have advanced features such as notes in the margins, and embedded in-line notes but none compare to the simple ease of pen to paper.
How you write dictates where you write
There are definitely advantages of the laptop or other digital forms of writing. As I mentioned before, typing speed is a given. The computer can check your spelling and grammar as you write. It can also store thousands of pages of research and writings that you can quickly search through on demand. Instead of an entire library of notes, the laptop’s database can be accessed from a coffee shop, on vacation, or even miles above the ground on an airplane. Writing on paper can be portable. Notebooks of course can be carried everywhere and don’t require electricity to work. This I suppose depends on the need of an individual writer. Sitting on a park bench writing in a notebook is a much more different experience than a laptop, even on that same park bench. For those who write on a monitor with full keyboard and mouse at home, a notebook is perhaps the only way that they will be able to write out of the house.
Before the rise of technology, authors had limited options for writing platforms. I wouldn’t be surprised if many contemporary authors elect to write directly on the computer because of it’s many benefits which include speed and efficiency. The platform in which an author writes is by no means as important as the writing itself, but as I am always interested in craft, and the human experience of creating art, it’s a question I have contemplated over the years. My conclusion is that the means of art creation does have an impact on the final outcome of any work of art, and that certainly includes literature.
I hope that some of my thoughts on writing platforms help you consider the way in which you write and how that influences your work as an author. Thank you so much for listening.
Melissa Chan is an occasional writer and the founder of Literary Book Gifts, a virtual gift shop for book lovers, readers, and writers. The store features authors and titles from classic books for all to appreciate.
How do you get your ideas into a finished book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
(Special thanks to Melissa Chan for this article.)