On a beautiful day, it’s still a keyboard world


Writing Reflections


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I love my keyboard.  It seems so long ago (yes, high school was very long ago) since I grudgingly, and awkwardly, did my touch-typing exercises at the typewriter:  the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy hen… Something like that.


Now, after years of composing at the keyboard, my fingers barely hesitate over the keys as they follow the pace of my thoughts.  If anything, my thoughts can be more sluggish than my fingers.  And no more white-out for those pesky errors!

What wonderful tools we writers have these days – no more writing out our thoughts in long-hand, and laboriously re-typing everything on (if you were especially cursed) a manual typewriter.  You always knew what was typed on a manual:  the a, q, z, “, and ? showed up more faintly under the pinky fingers.  No more carbon paper, either, and you can e-mail everything to your agent.


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But the grass is always greener on the other side of the window, so to speak.  I’m looking out upon a gorgeous late-summer/early-fall day, and catching the occasional breeze, but I’m tethered to my computer.  Yes, it’s a laptop and I could go anywhere with it, but we all know how difficult it is to read those screens in sunlight.  And it doesn’t seem right, somehow.


So I was tempted to take a pen and pad of lined paper outside, drink in nature, and let the creative thoughts flow.  But I didn’t, because I knew that, even if my thoughts positively gushed, they could only be translated to paper by the slow trickle of my long-hand.  It feels as awkward as learning to be left-handed in mid-life (or, in my case, learning to be right-handed).  Or, to phrase it more ironically, it seems as awkward as learning to touch-type.

But I’ll still get outside, and you should, too!  When you come back in, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the way you work:  typewriter?  Paper?  Both?  Does nature invigorate or distract you from your writing?

Until next time,

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20 thoughts on “On a beautiful day, it’s still a keyboard world”

  1. Kerry MeachamKerry Meacham

    My long-hand is terrible Kathy. I love being able to actually read what I’ve written. We do live in a great time. I can’t even imagine trying to write a novel long-hand, or with a manual for that matter.

  2. Christine AshworthChristine Ashworth

    KB – I know what you mean. I was in the UCLA area of Westwood the other very early morning, and I had nothing to write with. Not a pen, pencil, or knife to carve into the cement and certainly not my laptop. I felt completely hobbled as thoughts flowed into my brain and my fingers itched to put them down. I did finally return to my car and find a small pad of paper and a pen – and I sat and wrote until it was time for my appointment.

    I always swear to never leave the house without paper and pen – now I make sure I never do, just in case.

    Happy weekend, hon!

  3. Celeste SchillerCeleste Schiller

    I find it so much easier to compose while writing via keyboard than pencil and paper – I am glad that we were forced to take typing in highschool – God bless teacher M.L. Middlekoff, who desperately tried to make our class stop looking at their fingers. The things I learned back then, I ACTUALLY put into practice once this PC world evolved to the level that I type daily. I LOVE to cut and paste my thoughts into more thoughtful compositions, or to word process things I’ve written so I can tweak them the send to other recipients – love it, love it, love it!

    The commercials for the programs that type what I speak don’t impress me – it seems I am actually more creative as I see the words appear on the screen before me….gosh, I should write creatively more often! Once I start, it’s tough to stop…sort of just like they way I speak…

    Your blog is always thoughtful, Kath – thanks!

  4. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Kathy – I learned to type during the antediluvian days when the electric typewriter was cool! So like you, I learned to be pretty good at keyboarding and now, I disconcert my family because I can look at someone who’s speaking to me and answer a question without stopping my typing.

    But I’m not as good at mixing writing with the lovely outdoors. Both are so necessary, too, aren’t they? I try to focus on work when I’m indoors, but I soak up the outdoor beauty when I walk the dogs, etc… We really do need both.

  5. StephLoveStephLove

    Mostly I compose on the computer, but I do occasionally write blog posts long hand if I’m traveling. (I don’t have a lap top).

    I read more and more on the computer, but some things I just need to print and read on paper, especially if they are dense or technical. I have a stack of highlighted and scribbled on papers on my desk I am working with today.

  6. Piper BayardPiper Bayard

    I still thank my parents daily for forcing me to take 9th grade typing. I’m appalled that schools don’t teach kids to type any more. They do “keyboarding” which isn’t a thing like proper typing. They’re given a computer program that doesn’t care or watch to see that you use the right fingers, and the vast majority of teachers couldn’t care less about how the kids get the letters into the machine.

    That said, I use pen and paper all the time. Any time I’m stuck in my writing, the best way to tap into my subconscious ideas is to write long hand on blank paper (no lines). I couldn’t care less if I have my computer with me or not when I start writing.

    Thanks for a great blog, Kathy. 🙂

  7. Loree HuebnerLoree Huebner

    I’m fettered to my laptop.

  8. Leanne ShirtliffeLeanne Shirtliffe

    My brother (who is 48 and a tenured university prof) maintains that the most important course he ever took was an elective: Grade 10 Typing. I agree. The ability to touch type saves hours.

    But I get the nature thing too. I take my Moleskin notebook everywhere. Usually it’s ideas and sentences, but sometimes it’s paragraphs too.

    In fact, now that I think of it, I only record ideas in writing…never on the computer.

    Thanks for another thought provoking post!

  9. Tiffany A WhiteTiffany A White

    I like to brainstorm and plot on paper…but type when it comes time to write. In high school, I used a typewriter all the time. I’d probably murder a page trying to use one now. 🙂

  10. Nigel BlackwellNigel Blackwell

    Interesting question. I’m with you. I can’t write on paper then face typing it up afterwards. However, I put ideas down on paper, characters, plots, log lines, locations etc. You can do lines, circle things, cross them out then write stet. But its just so I can sort things out in my head which I then type (sorry, hunt and peck). I do like to revise on paper though. Again, its easy to add notes, move things around, and refer back and forth quickly.
    Excuse me for asking, but why are you leaning to be right-handed?


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