Four Reasons to Use Pen and Paper

As a writer, I spend as much time as anyone in front of a screen, researching, writing, and designing. I’m probably destined for early arthritis in my hands, since my keyboard is constantly clicking. This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on pen and paper. Here are four reasons why I still often prefer writing with pen and paper.

#1 – Writing with pen and paper reengages the real world.

The average American adult spends more than eight hours a day in front of a screen. You are in front of one right now! Nearly every aspect of life has been outsourced to electronics, from going to the bank, to shopping, and even (for some people, not me!) to finding a spouse. Is this how we were meant to live?

The world of electronics is a fantasy world. It is easy to slip into a ‘virtual reality’ where the present time and place blur out of consciousness. Instead, we are sucked into the moment, the screen in front. Totally absorbed in the screen, we forget everything else. Writing with pen and paper is one way to disengage from this fantasy world. When I do so, I feel more alive, as if I am actually living in the present.

#2 – Writing with pen and paper is a richer, more enjoyable experience.

Since I type at 85 words per minute, I know that I it is always faster to record my thoughts on a computer. We use computers to do things fast – to send an email in the blink of an eye, or connect with friends thousands of miles away. Computers indicate speed.

When I separate my computer from my writing, I am giving myself permission to slow down. I am removing the element of speed from the writing process, which gives me more time to think and analyze my thoughts. This also makes it more enjoyable.

Writing with pen and paper is also a more sensory experience. I enjoy the feel of the fine pen in my hand. It glides across the paper, leaving a thin black trail of words in its wake. The paper crinkles under my hand. I can write in beautiful script, star important information, and enjoy the process of writing for its own sake. The freedom of a pen and a blank sheet of paper is far superior to my fingers resting on the same worn keyboard buttons.

#3 – Writing with pen and paper produces higher-quality content.

I find that my best writing comes when I am not glued to a computer. My thoughts flow better, my intellect is clearer, and my rhetoric is more lively when I write with pen and paper.

Perhaps this is because I am removing the distractions of a computer. No longer can I surf the web, waste time on needless research, or change the font on my word processor. Email is not available, and I can’t browse my pictures or music.

Since writing with pen and paper is a richer and more enjoyable experience, it is relaxing. I mentioned already that it is mental permission to slow down. This relaxed mood helps my creative juices to flow, and it limbers up my mind to write better.

This also gives me more time to think about what I am saying. I choose my words carefully, and I have more time to think about how they sound in my mind, rather than listening to the clicking of a keyboard.

#4 – Writing with pen and paper creates a connection with the past, the present, and the future.

I sit at my desk in the early morning, pen in hand. The dawn sunshine fills the window, the birds are just starting to sing, and the humid Missouri air already promises a sweltering day. It is easy at times like this to remember that I engaged, not only in writing, but in an activity that generations of the past enjoyed. As did the great explorers, patriots, thinkers, and leaders of history, so I also am recording my thoughts in a book, a journal, or a paper. This activity connects me with the past.

I feel a sense of ownership when I write by hand. These words are not anyone’s. They are written in my own script, by my own hand, by paper that I touched. Just like we value a book more when the author has autographed it, so we value our own writing more when it is tangible, not typewritten on a cold and impersonal screen. My paper becomes a chronicle, not only of my thoughts, but of myself, at a certain time in my life. This activity connects me with the present.

As I review my paper and journals, I am vividly reminded of the time when I wrote them. Such a connection never exists on a computer screen. While I regret that I don’t have the letters and journals of my forefathers, perhaps I can leave something for my own future descendants – not because I am special, but as a tangible reminder for them of the past. This activity connects with the future.

Congratulations to Erin N. for winning the free book giveaway. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is an excellent choice and a book that I have often used!