Pen to Paper

It’s so much easier for me to write long-hand than it is to type my thoughts and feelings on a computer.  Although I’m a lover of technology and a consumer of most gadgets, the truth is, there’s something soothing and rhythmic to having a pen between your fingers and tracing across a smooth sheet of paper.

I think what I hate most or find annoying with typing on a computer is the constant need to mentally “re-check” and “re-do” everything.  Then there’s spell check automatically changing the words you might have spelled incorrectly or “fixing” what sometimes need not be fixed! It automatically switches letters or corrects your words – oh, it bothers me something fierce!  And I always notice the movement, the “correction” and on top of annoying me, it knocks me out of my rhythmic moment!

The uniformity of words and the letters on the screen also somewhat bore me.  The black and white-ness of it all.  I’ll type one line and stare at it blankly forever.  There’s no character, no true physical essence of  ME – all that remains is the UMPH of the words, how they sound together, and all that “suppose-ed” MEANING.  For me, writing on a computer assumes it’s for someone else’s consumption.  I’m always editing, thinking about structure – all of sudden “meaning” to others matters so much more. . . So much pressure!  Do the words make sense or ring true?   Did I say it right? Is it smart enough? Did I use the right words?

Yeah, I could write it by hand and then re-type it. . . oh, but who has the time?  And still, once you start transferring the words, all of a sudden changes need to be made!

When I write in my sketch book or what others may call a journal, it’s mine, completely MINE.  It feels personal and it’s NOT for anyone else’s consumption.  I love that!  It’s all about ME and it’s doubtful anyone else will ever see it.  My writing can be messy and jagged or beautifully cursive.  I can print or doodle – one never knows when writing that day, but when you look back, if you choose to look back, it has character, flavor, so much more of ME than just the words – there’s style, character, flare and yes, the UMPH of the words too.  Just by looking at the physical-ness of the entry, you get a sense of what it might mean.  And you can get a feel of the entry just by glancing —  You can tell what kind of mood I might have been in, just by the LOOK of it all. Did I block print? Did I scribble?   Did I use blue or black ink?  Was it really important so I underlined, starred it, or circled?  Did I write all in red ink to signify a GREAT day?  Or did I just run out of blue ink pens?

Maybe this explains why I find screenwriters and speechwriters so fascinating.  The great ones produce rhythmic and meaningful lines across a page that invoke meaning and purpose all by themselves. They don’t need my colored pens and doodles to enhance the meaning of the words.  And, if we’re lucky, the right talent comes along and gives the writer’s words texture and adds another facet of life into the work – hopefully, without losing the writers intent, of course!  It’s why I love acting so much, bringing life to the scripted words…just the collaboration of it all.

For me, I’m good writing in my personal sketch book every single day.  Doodling, free writing, playing around with ideas.  There’s no doubt it’s a kind of therapy of sorts, at least for me anyways!  And yeah, sometimes, like today, I’ll take the time to re-type it all…cuz it just feels right and I actually do have the time. 😉

9 thoughts on “Pen to Paper

  1. How did I miss this one? Oh, well.

    I’ll start out by saying that I agree, writing with an actual pen and paper is definitely a step up from typing on a computer. I just proof read a 200 page document on a computer for someone, and I have to say, the spell check/grammar check is useless and annoying. It always seems to be underlining things that are perfectly fine and doing nothing for things that are clearly wrong. It can be infuriating.

    As someone who doesn’t write anywhere but on the computer though, there’s something else I find. I enjoy reading from actual paper SO much more than from a computer. It doesn’t even matter what it is, but I love to read anything, and there’s just something about reading from paper. Maybe it’s the texture in your hands, the smell, the way the words look on the page? You can really get a sense of what someone meant when you see their handwriting. What was important to them, what they wanted to express. All things that are lost once you put them on a computer. I think it’s similar to how things are lost when talking to someone on the phone as opposed to talking to them in person? Context I guess.

    Long live the pen and paper!


    • JM! What a great point. I didn’t even think about reading — but you’re right. And in a way, I’m kind of lucky, I still get cards and letters once in a while from a few friends that are hand-written. It always feels like it matters more than an email or “attachment” even if they’re just saying HI. Hmmm…. I like that!

      Context for sure! 🙂



      • Now, that’s not to say that if you were to receive an email, say….tomorrow, from somebody that it wouldn’t be extremely meaningful…..right? You have to watch out too, you never know when it will get lumped in with the junk, even when it’s not.



  2. Excellent, Carmen! A post about writing that has nothing to do with grammar, spelling, syntax or construction. It’s a piece literally about putting pen to paper – awesome!

    As someone who tends to thrive on immediacy (gratification or otherwise), the computer is my dear friend. Thanks to those high school typing classes and countless hours spent banging away on manual typewriters, the keyboard is as comfortable to me as a barcalounger; I navigate it as Mark Twain might’ve commanded the Mississippi. And that permits my thoughts to flow fluidly, if not effortlessly.

    Particularly as I write scripts, commentary, proposals or my blog, word processing software becomes a sort of safe haven with spell check as my security blanket.

    The one exception is in journaling, which for me occurs in fits and starts. And that’s when the tools of writing matter most to me. A mere composition book – the black ones with the marbling – isn’t good enough. The journal must be bound on lined paper. I’m not sure why; it’s not as if there will be volumes archived in a collection someday. More important than the book is the pen. There’s something about the scratch of a fine tipped pen clawing out thought against crisp, taut paper that is symbolic of my thoughts and perhaps lends meaning to the event.

    Okay, perhaps that’s a bit pretentious. *smile*

    In any case, I love your writing and your thoughts, Carmen. Pleasantly, I stumbled upon your blog. I’ve read several pieces here and even linked one to my Facebook page (the one about dogs).

    I’ll return to read more of what you’ve written by pen or PC.



    • Thank you Jonathan. Glad you liked it… I’m realizing more and more how I really am quite the anomoly in writing old school. Oh well! I try — I really try to get my thoughts out on a computer at first try, but….to no avail. Funny! And I absolutely get the whole perfect pen idea…I have one as well! Not pretentious at all. Just the way it is when it comes to writing! Whatever works, I say!

      Anyways, again, thanks for stopping by and I hope you will visit from time to time!



  3. Carmen,
    I have never thought what kind of writing I prefer. When I need a therapy, I type. I believe that in this case no one can find my letters and read about my secrets.
    I agree with everything you said about hand writing. Of course, it helps us to express much more feelings, temper and life.
    Thank you for giving me a new vision.


  4. I’ve kept journals all my life but I find it increasingly difficult to do so, because keeping a journal on my computer is about as appealing as, say, using an e-Reader or something like that to read a book but I simply cannot write longhand like I used to. My fingers begin to ache and I hate the messiness of crossed out words or phrases, which happens a lot when I write long hand because my mind move so much faster than my pen.:)

    Typing, I can tear away at 120+wpm and while the speed still lags way behind my brain it’s much quicker than longhand. I rarely ever edit personal letters, e-mails, or blog comments. Occasionally, I won’t edit a blog.

    But I do miss the expression found in handwriting. I notice that I form my words differently according to my mood. Sometimes they’re happy and loopy. Sometimes they’re precise and type-like. And sometimes they’re a tiny, scrawling mess. I love that about my journal entries.

    My journal entries are no longer daily. I can easily go 4-5 months without cracking my journal open. Most of my thoughts go out into cyber space and are lost to me.


    • I can’t believe how many people have responded in a similiar way! I’m laughing a bit, because I see how that makes complete sense, and yet, I feel like I’m so ODD! Maybe I’m thinking way too much about what I’m saying and how it comes across when I type because others are looking at it? Maybe I need to be a bit more carefree on the computer? It really is making me think of writing in a whole new way! Do you consider what others will think when you write? Hmmm..maybe that’s what I’m focused on when here…typing…


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