|Photo credit: LOSINPUN on Flickr|
Now, before the groaning begins let me clear something up — when I'm not fighting with my keyboard, I'm pretty decent at typing. I'm not claiming to be superwoman over here, but I usually type at about 80 wpm-ish, give or take, so as you could imagine when I'm doing writing sprints or going for speed, there's no question that I choose typing over writing by hand. In fact, most times when I'm writing, I’ll sit down in front of the computer rather than picking up a pencil and pad of paper.
However, when my fast drafting round is complete and the time comes to begin rewriting and editing, speed is no longer my goal, and in those instances I've found that I really enjoy writing by hand.
The reason I like handwriting my revisions is simple — I'm more careful when I write by hand. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but my guess is that it has to do with the process of typing versus handwriting itself. You see, typing is largely an automatic thing — your fingers jot down the first words that come to mind and allow you to keep up with the flow of your thoughts relatively well, which makes it a really good instrument for fast-drafting.
Writing by hand, however, is a completely different animal. Unless you're Flash or otherwise ridiculously fast, hand writing takes more time — you can't just tap a button and watch a letter appear, you have to write the letter out by hand, and although it doesn't take very long, it certainly takes longer than typing. When writing by hand your thoughts often race ahead of the actual writing, and as a result of that, you have a little more time to think about the words you're actually putting on paper. In addition to this, there isn't an easy backspace button to press if you write a word or sentence you don't like, which for me at least, causes me to be more careful with what I commit to paper.
In short, writing by hand forces me to think about the words I write as I write them, something that has proven invaluable while working on revisions.
Now I'm not suggesting that you attempt to rewrite your entire WIP on paper — although more power to you if you do — but what I've found is that for those scenes that I want to scrap and relive entirely, writing by hand has proven to be an effective way to get my thoughts in order and really focus on the words as I write. My handwritten work tends to be more poetic and thoughtful than what I come up with in fast-draft mode.
So in my experience at least, the difference between writing by hand and typing is more than just the speed at which you can write — the shifting of the process itself changes the result in ways that I wouldn't have guessed had I not tried it out.
So now I'm curious — do you prefer to write by hand or type? For those of you who have done both, have you found a difference in your handwritten work versus your typed writing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.