Paper vs screen

This is primarily a writing course and not a technology course, but in my view it is difficult to separate the two when so much communication these days, both business and personal, takes place using cell phones and computers and tablets. When it comes to writing and reading, though, most of us are somewhere in the middle between paper-only and screen-only.

I’m someone who loves real bookstores and paper books, but I’m finding myself doing more and more of my reading on my iPad. For many decades, until very recently, I did all of my first drafts by hand (yellow legal pads with a black cartridge pen or a fine line Razor point), but I’m doing most of my drafting now on a computer. Still, if I have something I need to read carefully, I often find myself printing out an article so I can take notes in the margins. When I’m getting my ideas together, I almost always still start with a pen. Somehow that blinking cursor feels too intimidating in its insistence that I put just one letter right where it sits there blinking impatiently, and I prefer to be able to sprawl and scrawl over a whole empty page when I’m not yet sure of what I want to say. Once I get  some details down on the page, I can organize things more efficiently if I can use arrows and circles to mark things and move chunks of my ideas around. It’s only then that I move to a keyboard, and often after I type something, I go back to paper because it seems easier often to revise, edit, and proofread a paper copy.

My main point: I don’t expect all of you to be comfortable with a fully-electronic class and with doing your work only on a screen. Some of you may be, and that’s fine, but don’t worry if you still prefer to do much of your reading or writing on paper.

As we start this class, I’d like you to think about what you’ve been comfortable in the past with in terms of paper and screen and what perhaps you might be willing to experiment with a bit this semester. For the most part (except for final drafts) we will be getting things back and forth electronically through this blog and your individual blogs. The main reason for this is convenience. But if you’re more comfortable reading on a page, by all means print things out. If you’d rather compose with a pen, go ahead, but then you need to type up a second (or third or fourth) draft. If you haven’t done much with on-screen reading and writing, though, you might want to try it out.

Remember to think about practical issues like computer and internet access. If that’s an issue for you, you’ll need to think about a plan that may involve building time into your schedule to use a computer lab on campus and getting a flash drive (or using some other method like email or Dropbox) to move files between computers as necessary. Please feel free to talk to me if you’d like instruction or some help brainstorming strategies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *