Men & Women of Letters vs. Content Providers, or Writing in The Age of Computers

On the Beach

“The virtues of the ­computer—faster, easier, simpler—are vices when it comes to writing. The pen personalizes the labor of writing, reminding us that we are responsible for what we write.” — from PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE HAND by Mark Bauerlein

Anne Tyler writes in longhand, then revises in sections in “quite small and distinct handwriting – it is almost like knitting a novel”. When the “knitting” is done, she types up the manuscript, then writes it out in longhand — again. The whole thing.

Anne Tyler is not alone in her love for the old-fashioned tools of the trade (in particular, white paper with no lines, and a Pilot P500 gel pen), but some writers take it to the extreme:

“A blank computer screen makes me want to throw up,” says Niven Govinden. “It’s not conducive to good writing.” Or is it? What do you think?

Are you drawn to the old-fashioned? Do you write longhand? Do you find the soft glow of a computer screen exciting and inspiring? Share in the comments.

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Image credit: Maurice Brazil Prendergast. On the Beach, 1896–1897. Watercolor with graphite underdrawing on wove paper, Overall: 13 3/4 x 10 in. (34.9 x 25.4 cm). BF695. Public Domain.

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