Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Do You Write Different on Paper Than on Screen?

In just a little more than a decade, digital has invaded nearly every aspect of our lives, including writing. This blog is, of course, proof of that, though there are also online publications, social media sites, and more. In fact, many writers now don't even write on paper; they type on a screen. Personally, I do both.

For my fiction and poetry, I tend to write almost exclusively on paper. I don't know if it's just out of habit or if I actually feel more focused (or liberated) that way. However, pen to paper is how I roll when I'm stumbling through a sestina or short story.

My nonfiction is totally opposite. From blogging to crafting newsletters and articles, I tend to write and edit my nonfiction completely on the screen. I might jot an idea or two down on paper--or make an outline for longer works--but most of it is done without ever picking up a pen.

I don't know if this can be explained as a left brain/right brain activity. I have to use the same creative thought process for nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Of course, there's a difference between making line breaks and sharing 11 Tips for Writers to Find Success. So maybe there's something about the brain function. Or maybe it's just some kind of psychological kink I have. What do you think?

Do you write different on paper than on screen?

If you do (or even if you don't), share your thoughts below in the comments. Who knows? Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way.


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Brandee Shafer said...

I use my computer almost exclusively unless I'm taking notes, and I find writing on my computer more satisfying than writing on paper because it's easier to make changes as I go.

Lisa Mondello said...

I write on paper and screen, but mostly screen these days. Most of my plotting and structuring has to be done on paper. It's just the way my brain works. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Lisa Mondello

Unknown said...

I used to do all my first drafts on paper and then move them onto the computer. I loved the feel of the pen in my hand and the portability of a notebook. But, because I do so many things online now that I didn't five or ten years ago (like looking things up as I'm working), I find that most of my writing is done on my laptop. And, bonus, I can go longer without my hand cramping! There are still days, though, when I pull out a piece of paper and let it rip. The creativity is there either way - it's simply a matter of training myself to use whatever channel is available to get the words written.

Carrie Anne Schmeck said...

I take notes and make rough outlines on paper but prefer to write on my laptop. I can keep up up with my thoughts on a keyboard better than I can in longhand. And, like Brandee, I like to make changes as I go.

Kevin DeRossett said...

I brainstorm on paper. I write poetry exclusively on paper. I outline on paper.

I write fiction on screen, always.


Wendy said...

I write on paper. For my best editing, I have to print out and make edits on the paper first. I do this a lot, so there's always tons of scrap paper around. Much more depth.

Anonymous said...

I'm a luddite in a way. I won't financially support platforms that take away my freedom whenever possible. Thus, no smart phones or fancy tablets. I stick with a leather-bound notebook I picked up at a previously fancy and now struggling paper place in NYC.

If a suitable platform appeared (preferably with a semi-real keyboard) within a price range I could afford without forgoing other preferences, then I may play with non-paper. But I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

First drafts are always on paper for me. My belief is that the distance between what the pen scratches and the unconscious place from which it was generated is much shorter than the distance between the soul's creation and the cold, far-off, black character palette on a glowing, plastic screen. In other words, the writer's handwritten art is a direct-er reflection of the inner creationist mirror. Or something like this. : )

Anonymous said...

...and my writing on paper is much different than on screen because I use a plethora of mathematical symbols and they are cumbersome to work with on any screen format. Also, I tend to draw little sketches to go with some of my writing, which is impossible to do (for me) on screen.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks, everyone, for sharing!

I doodle with my writing often. Plus, I cross things out. Draw arrows. And more. These are things I can easily do on paper and--as Colette pointed out--not so much on the screen.

madeline40 said...

I got out of the habit of writing in a notebook after I left my journal on an airline. I also find that my fingers can keep up with my brain better when I tap on a keyboard.
However, I always print out a hard copy and edit with a red pen. It's so much easier to find things with a "fresh" pair of eyes a while after writing something.

catherinemjohnson.com said...

I work exactly the same, I feel much more creative away from the screen. I need to pick your brains about chapbooks. I've got 24 silly zoo poems looking for a home :) I'm very grateful for all your helpful articles in 2012 Poet's Market. What a gem of a book. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I used to write on paper first then transcribe to the screen. If I tried writing to the screen first I would just freeze up. But a few years ago while doing a fiction series of letters, they just started pouring out of me on the screen as these two had a lot to say and I just had to write down what they told each other! Now I write almost exclusively on the screen for fiction. No matter what it is, it flows easily and saves a ton of time. For non-fiction, I still write down all my research notes and then transcribe them to the screen and write from there.

God bless, Anne Marie :)