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Writing Tools: Pen vs Keyboard

In this computer society it's easy to move from the pen to the keyboard and give little thought to the consequence. But what are we sacrificing? Julia Cameron has spent a lifetime extolling the virtues of the direct connection between writing by hand and tapping into the creative force that exists in all of us. Her books, including the classic The Artist's Way, urge everyone to spend twenty minutes a day first thing in the morning taking pen to paper. No keyboarding allowed.

But how does that translate into the everyday life of the writer? As a former Artist Way facilitator for six years and a journal writing instructor, I have seen the value and impact of the pen at work. But as a writer I understand the need for the keyboard. I wrote my first novel entirely by hand in a large Mead notebook that I picked up at the local drugstore. Then I had to enter all that material into the computer. Sure, I edited as I went along but then and there I decided to teach myself to create at the keyboard. Doing so has given me a great skill that I rely on daily.

I know: Not everyone can create at the keyboard. Not everyone can type fast enough to keep up with their natural word flow. For some the act of typing gets in the way of their creative mind. It's only practical and necessary to spend time with pen and paper. Despite the digital revolution, many writers continue to write their first drafts by hand. These writers often feel they have a special connection to the imagination and that there is a direct link between their mind and their hand. They also enjoy the freedom from the keyboard. Best-selling NYT author Susan Wiggs is one who continues to write her first drafts by hand.

Of course there are many who are unable to write by hand. They have physical disabilities and are incapable of even holding a pen or holding it steady enough to write word after word after word. But for everyone else there is a choice. What is yours and why?


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