When Technology Fails: Pencil & Pen Vs. The Computer

A Microsoft automatic update completely corrupted my computer late last week and I’ve spent the best part of another week trying to reverse the damage. Finally, after a full factory reset I appear to have everything back and yet there was a point when I felt like hurling it from the 7th floor flat we’re renting in Berlin and resorting to chalk and slate. At least that way I wouldn’t be faced with the Blue Screen of Death!

On a serious note, it has made me reflect on the writing process and what we must do to safeguard our work. Thankfully I (almost) always save everything onto an external hard drive and regularly email myself my work as well but I certainly lost some files this week and it scared me how close I could have been to losing everything for good. The idea of writing by hand definitely had its draw (if you’ll pardon the pun) after so much stress, anxiety, and trouble, despite my atrocious hand writing! And yet, whilst I do keep journals of notes and time-lines etc, I just can’t see writing by hand as a viable or efficient option. Would that I had the patience of Roald Dahl, who wrote his stories in HB pencil on yellow legal pads, or the daring of Jack Kerouak, whose first draft of On The Road was penned (albeit on a typewriter) on one continuous roll of stuck-together sheets of tracing paper. It may sound a little soppy, but I also think that there is something particularly romantic about the hand-written word. And in our modern throw-away world, perhaps it speaks of a degree more commitment to one’s thoughts, ideas or messages when there isn’t a delete key to press. Could it be that there is more deliberation in the writing process when words are penned by ink and not the tapping of keys? Is it more involved? I don’t know; I certainly deliberate and take due care when writing on the computer, and even though there is the option to delete whole passages, for me it also facilitates my flow – my handwriting is so slow (and yet perhaps this is also an effect of our technological conditioning).

All things considered, it’s probably just a matter of preference. And whilst I will continue to romanticise the ideal and am in awe of those who do, to this day, hand-scribe their work, I think I’ll continue to use my laptop, exercise as much caution as I can, and save, save, save, save, save…

2 thoughts on “When Technology Fails: Pencil & Pen Vs. The Computer

Add yours

  1. Most of the time, I start out writing with a pencil before eventually transitioning to the keyboard. Manipulating a pencil physically connects me to the thoughts that are represented by the words. It’s also one reason why I prefer to read for enjoyment from paper than from a screen (the other reason is that I’m visually disabled, but that’s another story).

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting. Interesting point and I completely agree: reading from physical books is so much more of an experience – including the smell of ink! I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to books! I’m interested that you find the printed page more accessible than the screen. Again, it’s probably an effect of technological conditioning that would make me presume it might be otherwise. Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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