What’s the best way to write?

First, let me say, Happy New Year!

Writers have long debated whether it is better to write by hand, by typewriter, or by word processor. Some insist that handwriting is the way to go, as it allows the writer to connect more closely with his work, to create his story in a slow, deliberate manner. Others swear by word processing, claiming it lets the writer get his thoughts out almost as quick as he has them; it is especially useful, therefore, when the muse strikes. Still others enjoy the compromise of the typewriter, which is faster than handwriting, but slower than a word processor, and thus allows for speed and deliberateness in tandem.

In my experience, older writers or writers of thick literary fiction prefer handwriting; younger writers (usually of popular detective, paranormal, or science fiction) prefer word processors; and bearded hipsters prefer typewriters (infer whatever you’d like from that). Then, of course, there are those who switch between two or all of these depending on what they’re writing or how the mood strikes them.

As for me, I’m still experimenting.

Initial notes for my first published short story. Read “Coffee in the Afternoon” for free, as published by Fabula Argentea Magazine in July 2014

My initial brainstorming and plotting always takes the form of handwritten notes, for which Moleskines are wonderfully suitable. Lately, though, my actual writing of the story occurs on word processor. About a year ago, I surmised that my writing is just about the same whether I write by hand or by typing.

Now though, about a year later, I’ve also seen that typing lets me get sloppy if I’m not paying close attention. Usually I can tidy it up in editing, but it’s a hassle and takes the proper enjoyment out of editing, like moments of stillness during a rollercoaster ride.

Handwriting, on the other hand, doesn’t allow for sloppiness. Either I’m paying close attention, or I’m not writing; I can’t play fast-and-loose with a pen in my hand. That’s why I will probably always brainstorm and plot with pen and paper, no matter what method I end up choosing to write the story afterward.

Next week, I’ll share a bit of inspiration I received on this subject when I visited The Steinbeck House in Salinas, California. A little fact I learned about John Steinbeck made me reconsider (again) what method of writing—by hand or word processor—is better for me. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on these methods? Do you prefer one method to the others? Do you move between them depending on what you’re writing? Do tell!

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