Writing is cheap.

As an avid lover of Pride and Prejudice I’ve wondered what’s happened to the art of letter writing. They always sounded so eloquent. Some of the most eloquent and powerful writers of the likes Thomas Jefferson of Jane Austin were also letter writers.

Not that they had a choice. But we do. We could write a letter, send a text, video chat, facebook chat, email, blog, word process. Which one of these is not like the others? Letter writing.

Writing by hand is laborious. If you’re writing on stationary, or a card with a pen, you have to take care not to mess up. If you do, you have to have either an unattractive smudge or start over on a blank card–which could get expensive. So you have to think about what you’re going to say. To have to be deliberate, not too hasty, because there is no going back. Typing on the other hand, has no deliberation, I could write a really crappy rambling run-on sentence about ponies and butterflies just to amuse myself and delete it faster than I wrote it. Or I could copy and past it and use it somewhere else. If I were writing this by hand, I would have erase, or re-write or start on a new sheet of paper.

If I change my mind and want to move this paragraph I can drop and drag it to its new home. If I was writing by hand, I would have to start over or cut it out. It would be messy.

The phrase: “How long does it take me to write this by hand?” took me 15 seconds to write by hand and 6 seconds to type. Multiple that by paragraphs and the difference is dramatic. My question is, has writing become cheap? Because it is so easy, so quick, so relatively painless to write and delete and to move.

How would our writing style and writing process change if we didn’t have word processors? If so much of the writing we did wasn’t on the computer? No doubt that the internet, key board, and microsoft word make my life easier, and if this was written on a sheet of paper as opposed to the web I couldn’t share it as easily with all of you, and you couldn’t “interact” with it as easily by making comments. Do you think the strength of writing has decreased with the ease and lack of deliberation?


2 thoughts to “Writing is cheap.”

  1. Hi Alicia,

    I concur with you about writing becoming faster and faster as technology improves. Being someone who still likes writing page-long letters to friends and mailing them in Papyrus-themed envelopes, I think I understand a little bit of the loss art you were speaking of.

    On the other hand, when I first started using the computer to write simple assignments (say, in 5th grade?) I was not very happy about it. However, as time passed, I was grateful for the fact that I could just write without worrying about where I was putting what. So, In some ways, I wish the old, deliberate letters were still written with pen and paper, but I won’t complain too much about email, as typing does still help me a great deal 😉


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