I’ve been hand-writing a lot more fiction recently, because of various and sundry reasons. Down at FoolzCon, pen and paper were easy to get out and put away, didn’t need to recharge* or plug in, and could be left unattended without fear of a Small Person accidentally knocking them to the floor and breaking them. At Day Job, I can flip from page to page — lesson plans and test notes to fiction and back — and since I write in cursive, it is a nearly unbreakable code.
However, if I don’t remember to bring my braces, after an hour or so, I start regretting it. I have a bad habit of gripping the pen too tightly, and when combined with carpel tunnel problems, it leads to wrist pain and weakness. If I use a fountain pen, I don’t lock onto the pen as badly, but . . . fountain pens have their own complications, like bleeding through the notepads I use because the paper is not glazed properly for fountain pen ink. It used to be, but something changed. So I use an ultra-fine Pilot™ pen and plot or class-outline away.
I’m also grading papers that are turned in online, and adding my comments and critiques. I can answer students much faster with a keyboard, because I type as fast as I think (almost. I can still lock up wordprocessors when I’m going at full speed.)
On paper, I move more slowly, and leave out considerable description, especially when my wrist gets tired. My mental narration has to slow in order to keep from overloading my hand and losing ideas.** The description and details get filled in on the margins (I use notepads designed for margin notes and citations), or when I transcribe what I’ve written into the computer. I still see the story unfolding in my head, but it is wordier, for lack of a better word.
When I type fiction, I fly, writing hundreds of words at a go. I see the story in my head, in pictures as much as words, and I type what I see. One problem is that often, description gets skipped because I know what everything looks like. I forget that readers are not “seeing” the story that’s unreeling in my mind. Which is why I go back and fill in things like “what so-and-so looks like” or “landscape around Rigi’s house” so readers don’t get frustrated. The end result is the same if I write or type, but what has to be tucked back in varies. The spelling on my hand-written copy is much, much worse, because of my memory problem. I see the errors faster on the screen now, and there’s spell check to flag things if they are really off. Homonyms and the like are still my own fault, especially when I type at speed.
I don’t think readers can tell a difference between “started on a paper notepad” and “started on screen.” That is, if I do the revisions and polishing properly.
*This is why I carry at least four pens in my satchel at all times, two super-fine and two fine ballpoint. Plus correcting pens and a pencil, because one never knows.
**I have a lack of RAM. By the time I remember what I want to say, how I want to say it, grammar and punctuation, and the mechanics of writing/drawing letters on the page, I’m out of processor space. I can’t spell well, to put it mildly, and I can’t talk. I register that words are being directed at me, but I don’t process them and can’t answer unless I stop writing. Even when I sign my name, I have to do that, stop, talk to the person, the finish writing. What saves me is that I was forced to learn cursive by rote, copying copybook essays over and over and over, trying to match the ideal example on the page with my own handwriting. Do that almost daily for two years and more, and you too will learn cursive as muscle memory, not conscious thought. Mostly.