Friday, October 10, 2014

Should I Use a Pen and Paper or Computer?

Should you use a computer or write longhand? This topic came up the other night at the writing group I’ve been attending for the last few months, which has been skillfully facilitated by San Francisco-based writer Kathy Dalle-Molle.   

Apparently an individual inquired about the writing group’s format in advance and was informed that computers were not allowed. He opted not to attend as a result. 

You’d think in our times most people (like this individual) would opt for the computer, enabling them to write at a relatively rapid pace using a tool quite familiar to them. An alternative, used in this writing group as well as in the Intensive Journaling Program I’ve been immersed in since last February, demands we use paper and pen. 

I opt for pen and paper when I want to write longhand to access my deepest self.  I find there’s a profound connection to the written word–an intensity of feeling and meaning, in other words–that I just don’t get when using technology.  There’s a directness and a physicality to writing longhand, moreover. The act requires stamina, energy, and commitment. That’s a fundamentally different and more fulfilling experience for me than pecking away at a keyboard while facing the glare of a computer or cell phone screen.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t use technology. I love it! I rely heavily on my MacBook Air and iPhone, seven days a week.  I wrote my doctoral dissertation and countless articles using them. Yet whenever possible, and especially when attempting to tap into deeper feelings and emotions through writing, I’ll turn to a pen and a notebook. I know that technique will serve my needs all too well. 

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