Crafting literature by pen and by keyboard

Just now, on good old BBC Radio 4, they spoke about the surprising rise in the sale of fountain pens on amazon. I don’t own one myself anymore, but I quite like that people are still using them. One day, when I have time, maybe I’ll give it a go myself. It got me thinking about how often I use a pen these days.

Although, especially with super-light laptops, it’s easier to use a computer most of the time, I do still write by hand a fair amount. I have a beautiful stack of hardback notebooks (you know the kind you get in Waterstones with the medieval or art nouveau covers). I love the feel of them and the look of them. If I’m on  a train or in a cafe I don’t often whip out my laptop. Even though it’s light it is still more cumbersome than my little books, I’m also worried it’ll get nicked, plus there’s the battery issue. So that’s when I use the pen most.

When I looked back at the enormous amount of words I have written so far, in an effort to complete my first novel, I found passages written in my notebooks tend to survive edits/culls a great deal better than passages typed straight on the screen. I wondered if anyone else has noticed this?

English: Mabie Todd Swan 14k gold flexible nib

My hypothesis is, when I am writing with a pen the words necessarily come slower. This can be frustrating but perhaps slowing down makes me consider the merit of every single word more than when touch typing at 100 words per minute. I certainly consult my printed dictionary/thesaurus a great deal more when I write with a pen and spend more time flipping through to get just the right word.  Somehow online dictionaries/thesaurus’ don’t seem to produce the same inspiration, perhaps because you’re less likely to catch a random word in the corner of your eye and investigate further?

Computers are great for mind dumps but perhaps the pen is still mightier when you’re attempting to craft a paragraph full of beauty and resonance.

2 thoughts on “Crafting literature by pen and by keyboard

  1. Phil Norris says:

    I haven’t written by hand in years, I still use a pen regularly for work, but nothing else. It’s not that I feel its easier typing its just my handwriting is so bad even I have trouble reading what I’ve written after a while.

    Plus I find as I type I get faster along with the pace of what I am writing, the same happens when I used to handwrite. The result was pages of text that started well, then start to slant as the speed increased and then ended up illegible.

    If I make notes now I keep them short and to the point.

  2. plantageneta says:

    I have to admit my handwriting is pretty bad too and my impatience makes it worse. Its no good when I’m trying to get a whole train of thought out, but useful when I’m trying to get a particular paragraph just right. It’s probably just me tho! (behind the times!!)

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