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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Pen and Paper v. Online Tools

I wrote my first two full-length novels in my diary- with a pen on sheets of paper. And, as the years passed I completely shifted to writing online- in word/google docs/other writing tools. And, I have found that both of them have advantages and disadvantages. I decided to make a comparison table. 

Pen and Paper
Writing On A Device
Ease of editing
You can edit. But it is definitely not the most convenient way to edit. You’ll have a lot of arrows and strikethroughs when you are drafting. You’ll have to rewrite them clearly again to make sense.
The best thing about online writing is the ease with which you can edit what you wrote. You can keep making changes and improvisations on your original text. You can add, delete, insert- all without any hassle whatsoever. 
Pen and paper wins hands down. You can turn off all distractions, sit with just a piece of paper, a pen, and give yourself to the story you see and feel. 
There are many, many distractions. Even if you try to switch off your wifi and write on an offline platform, you just are a click away from turning it back on. So, unless you are super disciplined (which most of us are not), writing on a computer or laptop can definitely not be called distraction-free.
Completing A Story

(Yeah, this is an actual criteria because one in a hundred story ideas actually reach the final form)
While you are writing on paper, you tend to be more involved in writing the story, rather than perfecting that one paragraph that you have managed to write. The story and your idea flows easier, and you keep writing. It is important to not keep editing while you write your first draft, and pen and paper actually helps with that.
This is the biggest drawback here. Since, editing is extremely easy and convenient, we tend to try and perfect/rewrite a single scene while there is a whole story left to be told. It takes much more to progress while writing online. 
Environment friendly
Pen and paper is not really environment friendly anymore, looking at the rate at which we have managed to deplete resources. 
This is the truest and most important advantage of this medium. We are saving hundreds of thousands of trees from being cut down for paper if we all shift to writing on a system. 

There are also other miscellaneous advantages and disadvantages in both. But, if you notice- the biggest disadvantage of pen and paper is editing, and that itself actually helps in moving forward and separating the process of writing and editing, thus making it easier to complete what we write. However, the advantage of being able to save paper, and also make the editing process a thousand times easier are significant advantages.  

Although I might have preferred pen and paper earlier, I have used the online mode for quite a long bit now. And, having realized its disadvantages of getting me stuck on perfecting a couple of paragraphs when the whole story awaits telling, I have worked on my mind: consciously to push forward and keep editing only after completing the draft. This takes time, and I still don't follow it all the time, but the benefits we reap by saving paper, saving trees are so starkly important.

Which medium do you prefer writing in, and why? Share them in the comments below!

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