Handwritten vs. typed

Among my friends, we talk a lot about the topic of handwriting vs. typing on computer in regard to recording dreams: the quality of recounting them by hand in a journal as opposed to typing them. I’m a dream typer. For a long time, I thought I might be sacrificing something. For one thing, I like to draw and would probably express more dream images as drawings if I were recording in a journal. But here’s the thing. Or here are a couple of things. It came up in a dream group I belonged to with a therapist with a Ph.D. that one can actually record a dream more quickly, and therefore capture more before it slips away, on computer, if you’re a fast typer. Also, I end up typing my dreams anyway. I keep them going back decades. I put a year’s worth of dreams into a document, and then I can search for a word. How many times did I dream about cats? What were all the dreams that year with my mom in them? That’s valuable to me.

Some researchers suggest that, for creative writing, we tap into a different part of the brain when we write by hand, that our ideas might be coming from a more innovative place. Frankly, I don’t think i’d write novels if I were writing by hand. I certainly wouldn’t edit as much or do such extensive crafting. I know they probably mean for the first draft. Then you can put it on the computer for revision. I just don’t have any challenge with creativity. Imagination comes to me pretty much at will. Many articles say it makes little difference. I haven’t seen one that says the keyboard is more creative than pen and paper but … that one must be out there somewhere.

This could lead to an extensive discussion on education. Should kids be encouraged to keep writing by hand and not do all their schoolwork on a keyboard? For learning, I prefer to write in a notebook, as a matter of fact.

There are studies showing that handwriting engages the brain more than typing. But what is that engagement? Does it include more processing of hand-eye coordination? Do I need that particular engagement to soar into the clouds with my fantasy or science fiction? Or to delve deep into the heart of the character?

How about you? Do you have a preference? Do ideas come more easily when you have your blank book open and a fine writing pen in your hand?

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2 thoughts on “Handwritten vs. typed

  1. I love writing by hand in a journal which fits comfortably in my hand. I love turning the pages and I love the glide of a smooth pen on paper. I wrote most of the first draft of a novel (still unfinished) by hand. Having done that, I will never do that again unless I’m stuck on an island with no electricity for a couple of years. The task of typing the whole thing in, trying to read my handwriting, and searching for all my notebooks and loose pages was drudgery. I’m converted to first draft typing now.

  2. I love it, Cristina. Sound reasoning. Thanks for sharing. I have dozens of blank books around for various projects and love to draw or add pictures in, or collages. But even my daily journaling I don on computer now.

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