Flash Drive or Pen…?
Do you prefer to use a computer for your writing or a notebook? I think that there are pros and cons to using a computer and there are pros and cons to using a notebook. However, no matter what the pros are or what the cons are, people will most likely choose one certain one over the other all the time.
A computer has its advantages. Nine out of ten people type faster than they write, so typing would be an advantage over hand writing. Plus, there’s spell-check. If you write on the computer, the computer will tell you whether you’re right or wrong–of course, the computer is sometimes wrong, so you have to watch out. If you use the computer, you can check to see how many words you have written and you can see how long it is. I’ll use myself as an example. A finished manuscript is typed and double-spaced (most of the time). During my free time in school, I wrote in a notebook. By the end of the semester, I had filled up an entire one-subject notebook of a story. When I typed it up on the computer, the manuscript was less than ten pages. Of course, the story was not nearly complete, but my point is that if you use a computer, you know exactly the length of your novel.
Now there are disadvantages to using the computer. It’s one word: Internet. Yes, if you need to research something on Google, then that’s okay. However, for most people, when they log onto the internet, they stay on the internet for a good few hours. They forget what they’re doing and then when their laptop dies or they need to leave to go to work or whatever, they remember, “Oh, yeah. I was supposed to be writing.” Of course, there is nothing that they can do about it. They shut down, go do whatever it is that life needs them to do and do they get back to the story? Eventually, but not likely that same day. There is also the disadvantage of the computer crashing or getting a virus (which, I would say is technically the same thing). Once that happens, you’re screwed. You may be able to get rid of the virus, but all your documents are now infected. That is, if they even made it through the whole crashing process. You might have lost them forever. And yes, that is why we have flash drives these days. You pop it into the computer, save everything onto that and (God forbid) your computer dies tragically you still have all your crap. It’s magic! It’s saved! However, a flash drive is only good for you if you actually have it.
Let me tell you this story from a couple of semesters ago…I was at school. My sister and I arrived in the early morning, we went to our classes, and then we were gone by, I think, noon. Maybe later, I don’t know, but the time is irrelevant. The time you need to know is that at seven o’clock at night, yes 7:00 PM, I decide to write. I turn on my laptop, I get my flash drive. Except I don’t. I look in my bag, all the drawers in my desk, in my room, everything. No flash drive. Then it hits me: I used my flash drive at school. Guess where I left it? That’s right; I left it connected to one of the school computers in the library. I was completely panicked. I was distraught. I had convinced myself that I was never ever going to see my flash drive again. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s it! All those stories…all that hard work…wasted! I am never going to write again!” No, seriously, I vowed that I was never going to write again if I didn’t get my flash drive back…I’m a very sensitive person. Anyway, I run up to my bedroom, probably crying I don’t really remember, and I tell my sister everything that happened. Well, thank the lord that my school library added a new feature. We can IM the librarians now…if the library is open and someone is on duty, that is. Lucky for me, there was a librarian online. My sister spoke with her and apparently a very nice man found it and turned it in to the lost and found. The next day, we went to school to the Lost and Found and I got my flash drive back. I don’t know who that student was who returned my flash drive, but I would give him a big bear hug if I ever found out.
So, computers have advantages and disadvantages…more advantages than the disadvantages. But notebooks also have their own advantages and disadvantages:
Hand writing may be slower, but think of it as a first-first draft. If you hand write and then type it (believe me because I’ve done it plenty of times before) as you type you’ll be editing. You will notice spelling, grammar, and even sentence structure mistakes. As you type, you will fix these mistakes so it’s as though you’re getting a whole draft edited as you format it. Another advantage: they are portable. As long as you have a pen that works with you, then you can write wherever you go. Sure, laptops are portable, but then you have to lug around a heavy laptop, a flash drive (if you need one) and the cord…remember, laptops die. Notebooks don’t.
How are notebooks not a good idea? Smudging. I guess it depends on the type of pen you use, but when I write, my arm tends to smudge all the previous words I wrote. And I’m right-handed. The other problem would be messiness. It depends on you and your hand writing and it’s not like it’s your fault if you have crappy hand writing or not, but still. I hand write fast and my hand writing isn’t the best, to begin with. When I try to re-read over the things I wrote, I get stuck every once in a while trying to read my own writing. People may not see this one as a big deal, but to me it is. Once you start writing in a notebook and then you take it somewhere with you to write in your spare time (like I do when I go to school), you need to make sure that you’ll have enough paper left in the notebook to last you through the day. The majority of one-subject notebooks only have 70 pages. If you use them double-sided (which I think everyone should) then you technically have 140 pages. However, it also depends on how big you write…I write like a giant, so I don’t always get the most words down on one sheet. The point is a computer has an unlimited amount of pages, whereas notebooks don’t.
And there you have it. I’m sure that there are more pros and cons to both computers and notebooks, but those were the ones that I could come up with. I think that it depends on how often you write, where you write, how you write, etc., should depend on what you use. Then again, you need to use something that you’re comfortable with. Me? I couldn’t tell you which I prefer. I use the computer the majority of the time. That’s mostly because I have an unlimited amount of paper, plus the words get down faster. However, you will sometimes catch me writing in a notebook. I need a notebook to write in whenever I can’t get to a computer and it makes me feel relaxed. It’s quieter because I don’t have the typing noise in the background as I think and try to come up with something to write next…although I quite like the typing noise. I usually listen to music when I write whether I am on the computer or using a notebook, so I’m not really making much sense right now, but that’s just how I work.
Which do you use?