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Paper vs. Technology

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

With the rise of technology during the past few decades, there has been a huge debate about whether paper or electronics are the best method of consuming and writing literature. We will be discussing the advantages of both sides in this post.

Advantages of Writing on Paper:

  • There are fewer distractions. It's just you and the page.

  • While writing on paper, you are less prone to spending time rereading your own work, especially if you have bad handwriting.

  • Rewriting handwritten work on the computer forces you to pay attention to each word and get through the editing process.

  • You are able to see many pages at a time, draw big arrows, and see how your idea progressed, something especially useful when writing poetry or when trying to structure a big novel. You can even see what you have crossed out. This way, you can look back on deleted paragraphs if you realize that there was some potential in them.

  • You can doodle on the page while you write. It might not be an advantage for everyone, but it can help some people come up with ideas and fight against blank page syndrome.

  • On paper, you write slower, which in turn forces you to pay closer attention to what you are writing.

  • You don't focus on spelling, which you can later correct when you transfer it to a computer.

  • It gives you more freedom in terms of structure. You can format the text any way you want (such as bold indentation, calligrams, staircase effects). It is very easy to do on paper; you don't have to write where your cursor is placed, so you will automatically start playing with structure more. The paper becomes a canvas.

  • Writing on paper can be extremely relaxing; you can get away from the screen and let your eyes and mind rest.

  • (Bonus point) — It's a nice look that makes you feel like one of those “real” writers.

Advantages of Writing Using Technology:

  • It is convenient. You will always have your phone with you, so you can access your writing anywhere, anytime.

  • Since your writing is stored online, it can never be lost even if your physical electronics are stolen or damaged.

  • It is more environmentally friendly, and therefore the morally superior choice.

  • Typing is faster than handwriting and can allow you to keep up with thoughts, ensuring that you don’t lose any ideas. This can be especially helpful for writing out your stream of consciousness, as the fast speed of typing doesn’t allow for second-guessing or overthinking.

  • There are many tools like Autocorrect and Grammarly that check your writing for you, ensuring that you always have good spelling and grammar.

  • Your writing will be effortlessly neat and legible, you will never have to worry about messy handwriting.

  • On the computer, it is very easy to play around with different fonts, layouts, spacing, etc. with a simple click, which can make your work look aesthetically pleasing and professional.

  • It is very easy to edit; you can add and delete lines, cut and paste sentences, and re-organize paragraphs.

  • You can access your edit history, allowing you to revert back to old versions of your work if necessary. Additionally, by using this feature, you can see the progression of your work over time.

  • Computer functions such as the word search and the outline can help in navigating your work and quickly accessing specific sections. This can also enable you to identify and break patterns, such as the overuse of a certain word, and gain a better understanding of your habitual writing voice and style.

  • You can make comments on your own work, leaving notes for yourself to refer to later.

  • If your work is online, you can easily share it with others, giving them a piece of writing that is easy to read and provide feedback on.

As you can see, there is no real answer to the Paper vs. Technology debate. Often, similar advantages manifest in both mediums in different ways. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference, so you should try both methods before making up your mind about what works best for your unique writing habits. Of course, it is still good to use your non-preferred method from time to time as it can foster creativity and provide you with a new perspective on your writing.

By Gargi & Ana

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