tech tips for writers

Tech Tips for Writers #125: Editing is Easier When It’s Done Digitally

Tech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: Why should I give up paper and pencil?

A: Lots of reasons!

  1. Digital writing is easier to edit. By a factor of infinity. Anyone who has tried to erase, smudge notes, tear the paper, knows that the digital version of editing with a simple insert or replace is miles ahead. Why force ourselves to use a method that is so inferior?
  2. By middle school, with even a modicum of keyboard training, most of us type faster than we handwrite. The average person handwrites between 25-35 wpm. It doesn’t take much practice to exceed that with typing. By fourth grade, my students typed as fast as they handwrote and by fifth grade, often exceeded it.
  3. Typing is a natural choice when typing while thinking, like planning/writing a story. Surprisingly, while processing in the brain is faster than any computer, thinking isn’t. We get distracted, pull ideas from memory. No one’s really measured that but experience (as a teacher) tells me it’s about 35 wpm. Now, you definitely have to be a touch typist (no need to look at your hands while typing) for this to be true, but if you are, your fingers move in sync with your brain. Compare this to handwriting where you must focus on the page, stay in a straight line, go to a new line. It’s much more complicated!

One more: It’s much easier to share digital writing.

For an alternate opinion, check out this Lifehack infographic.

More on digital writing:

Handwriting vs. Keyboarding–from a Student’s Perspective

When is Typing Faster Than Handwriting?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

63 thoughts on “Tech Tips for Writers #125: Editing is Easier When It’s Done Digitally

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  3. You make some great points here… I´ll check out the related posts as the handwriting vs Typing topic interests me 😉 I am definitely faster when it comes to typing and it is true that it might go as fast as our thoughts (at least, at times)… I am now thinking tht it has been a while since I last wrote something on paper… meaning a page or so.. Odd, how we replace old habits when we have the tools to be able to do it…. We´d definitely put them off, most times!… An enlightening post dear Jacqui.. Thanks for sharing. Love & best wishes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Aquileana. I avoid handwriting because of my arthritis but still do take notes on post-its and write comments on my writer’s group submittals. I keep trying to switch those to digital but can’t get there yet!

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. I like taking notes with pen and paper, but my problem is that I always lose the paper 😀 The thing I love about writing on my laptop is that I can simply delete words and sentences and replace them without striking through lines (or pages) of writing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good post, Jacqui. I’ve typed on manuals, electrics, and now laptops. Anyone who asks that question has never typed on a manual typewriter or even an electric. I’ve dealt with the onion skins. type erasers, and Whiteout. Give me a laptop any day. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jacqui – I do my best work when typing … yet I take notes and make notes with pen and paper … but we each have our own way, which no doubt changes over time – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I finally figured out how to make notetaking on my phone easier than with pen and paper. It’s actually faster now, assuming my phones with me.

      Which is the same problem I had with pen and paper–did I have one the moment I was inspired?


      • I rarely have my phone with me!! Nope to answer your question .. pen and paper usually but not at that time for you – yes I always do … scruffy note! but it works … I do have someone emailing me things to type up as he has terrible dyslexia and so speaks into the phone which translates across to me as an email … it’d be easier – if he didn’t have a cockney accent too!! H

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I couldn’t be happier that digitally editing my work has saved me wasted hours of revision. I couldn’t give it up now. None of us can. But I have to be sorry to watch the art of handwriting disappear without a thought as to what we are losing or a murmur of regret. Handwriting will soon join the many victims of progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can type pretty quickly. But sometimes I’ll take a pen and notepad and just write longhand for the fun of it. Especially if I’m stuck. An expert once told me that handwriting unlocks a creative part of our brain that typing on a keyboard can’t…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have to agree on editing digitally. But I also must add that after editing in revisions for a manuscript a few rounds, I like to print out my MS and go through it again visually printed on paper. Surprising how many more typos I find. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hand wrote my first book, then typed it from my scribbles, then had it typed accurately by a friend. So very grateful for my computer with its ergonomically correct keyboard and all the options that let me correct, cut and paste, look up spelling, reclaim earlier versions of works, save every iteration of anything, and is legible!

    I do however understand those who feel that writing with pencil or pen gets them closer to their muse. Mine sites on top of my screen and gives advice – yay!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have noticed since using a keyboard how untidy my handwriting has become. I was reminded of this the other day when I ran into an old school friend. “I remember you had the most beautiful handwriting’ was what I was remembered for. Imagine that. Of all the things people might have remembered me for it was my handwriting! And its not even tidy anymore. 😦 Still I would never go back to pen and paper – too slow. I am so in awe of the ancient writers who wrote books before the keyboard was invented.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve never been able to handwrite. If it wasn’t for the typewriter and then computer (showing my age), I’d never be able to write anything. As you mentioned, I can type nearly as fast as I think, but can’t handwrite nearly that fast. Also, I can’t read my own handwriting.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Typing has always been my preferred method as my handwriting even when I try can be unreadable on a cruicle word. I found I think better when I type too. It frees me in some ways because I am not worrying about legibility. I do still handwrite some, especially notes and list and on a rare occasion when typing is not available story ideas and scenes. Great post. Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Liked by 1 person

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