The Poetry Socety recently reposted this Guardian article on Facebook – Why creative writing is better with a pen – and I was reminded of how vehement Gillian Clarke was on the subject when she was tutoring us at Ty Newydd. She urged us to work in longhand before opening the computer.
What do you think of this? I’m interested to know, because although I do have a notebook by the bed (to capture ideas I have at night) I never actually write poems longhand. If I’m in a workshop I do use a pen and notepad, but I get a potential poem onto the screen to work on it as soon as I can. Some reasons I can think of are:
- I type much more quickly than I write – I find I can lose an idea in the time it takes to write it by hand
- I find writing harder – my hand doesn’t seem to write what I intend, letters get missed out or the writing is illegible afterwards, plus my wrist aches
- On the screen I can make changes very quickly to word choice, line length, layout to see how it looks, and can change back easily without lots of scratchings out
- Because the typewritten word is clearer, I can ‘hear’ what I’ve written better
- I like the intimacy of working on a laptop computer, and (unlike the writer of the Guardian article, for example) I don’t find the noise of the keyboard intrusive, quite the opposite actually – but then again Mac keyboards are very quiet
- I can swiftly check something on the internet or in my archive without leaving my seat or breaking my train of thought
- I can keep old iterations of poems and can go always back to see how something started, perhaps retrieve an old idea or go down another route for revision
Do you have any preferences or habits when it comes to writing by hand or on screen? What do you find works for you?