Is the Computer Mightier than the Pen?

This post is in response to the NaBloPoMoUK challenge: a blog post a day throughout November.  I’m using the prompts at

When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?  Are you a person who enjoys the weight of the pen in your hand, or does that just give you stiff fingers and your preference is for the light tap of keyboard strokes?  For me, it depends on what I am writing.

I do a lot of writing during the course of a day, not all of it blog pieces or coursework.  I begin with a to-do list which is always done with a pen, kept with the list to facilitate updates.  Pen and notebook are on my computer desk and in my bag to note down reminders or details of new blogs or articles I want to read.  I keep a diary of my little chap’s day, written, with a pen, from his point of view.  My shopping list is compiled using a pen, which may seem old fashioned in these days of supermarket home delivery, but thank you notes and party invitations are also hand written because I like classy pens and pretty stationery.  For these things, pen and paper rule.  I dislike computer applications which allow you to make an electronic note and virtually stick it to your desktop.  I’d rather have an actual post-it note and some blu-tack and stick it to the very real wall near my desktop.

For writing longer pieces of text, I prefer to use the computer.  In many ways, I’m glad I’ve discovered writing in the age where it’s common to have computer access.  Writing text in longhand would be tiring and tedious.  It’s easier to insert thoughts or sentences into the document, cutting and pasting to move them around to see how they look or read and moving them again if required.  Thorough editing is facilitated by the click and swipe of a mouse.  This would all be very time consuming and laborious if done in longhand, not to mention wasteful of the paper used in revisions and drafts.  The downside is that once something is deleted, it’s gone forever.  The hasty decision that a concept doesn’t fit could mean the permanent loss of a number of new ideas.

A debate from Daily Writing Tips a few years ago demonstrates that most writers fall into one camp or the other and questions whether creativity and writing style are influenced depending on the format used.  A brief internet search reveals technology which mixes handwriting and the computer.  An electronic Tablet allows you to write directly onto it using a stylus and changes your writing into a digital format.  Also available is the Wireless Pen which can apparently be used anywhere and will upload everything you’ve written to your computer later.  Maybe this technology can help bridge the divide between those who prefer paper and pen and those who prefer writing directly onto the computer.

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2 Responses to Is the Computer Mightier than the Pen?

  1. Ally Bean says:

    I break down my writing in just the same way. Shorter writing I use pen and paper. Longer writing I use a computer.

    I’ve tried some of the computer apps for making lists– and find them so labor intensive that I deleted them. I’m better off using a few 3″x5″ index cards + pen than some fancy gadget.

  2. Kathy says:

    I fall into the same camp as you do as well. I use pen and paper for shopping lists and quick notes and the computer for writing longer intense letters and my blog and essays.

    I wonder if your age effects your choices as well, being in my forties I’m getting more comfortable with technology but am at an age that when I worked in an office, 13 years ago, I still handed my boss a note in pen if he needed to know something while on the phone. When I call my sisters office her assistant just text’s her whatever message I leave.

    Thanks for your post and it’s great to find your blog through twitter!

    Kathy – My dishwasher’s possessed!