Jenny Stradling

CEO at Eminent SEO. Working on making the web a better place through design and business sustainability.

Is The Keyboard Killing Our Creativity?


I have spent pretty much the last decade typing on a computer. I never really learned how to properly type, but my method works and I’m fast. I don’t think about typing anymore but I do think about writing. In a way they are the same thing, but not necessarily.

“Writing” is an act that requires an actual pen and paper… OR, it’s a piece of work, which technically could have been “written” on a computer keyboard (or if you’re old school a typewriter):

When I think of writing, I don’t think of the chosen tool by which I will write. But, maybe I should.

Have you ever heard someone say (or said yourself) “handwritten letters are the best”? That’s because we all feel the same: no one does it anymore. Even the somewhat personalized holiday cards we received this year included only a few scribbly handwritten words or a signature at best. I mean, who writes when you can just type, right?

But, if the sentiment is lost because of typing, is it worth looking at handwritten text? (I say “text” because I mean more than letters and cards, but actual content.) Or, in other words, is creative writing better with a pen?

Reasons Why You Should Try Creative Writing with a Pen and Paper

  • Convenience

Have you ever had a great idea only to lose it before you “jot it down”? Whatever happened to the good old pen and paper? When your phone battery is dead, when technology fails, when your computer memory is full, when you accidentally delete something… don’t you ever wish you had just written it down? Having a notebook with you at all times ensures you will never have to worry about bringing with a charger and hoping for an outlet. There’s nothing worse than having to always be plugged in. Am I right?

  • You Already Have Too Much Screen Time

If you are like me and work at a desk, you are already looking at a screen too much. Between our computers and our phones (don’t mention our tablets, iPads, iPods, smartwatches and other devices) we are literally staring at a screen more than half the day. In fact, I looked it up and the average American spends 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media. This includes tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs.


  • Shakespeare Did It

My office and my home are full of notebooks. I hesitate to print too much as we like to go as green as we can in the office. However, we do buy notebooks and I go through a ton. I have always loved stationary, journals, pretty notebooks. There is something alluring about a blank page, a new start, an untouched book. It’s like looking out the window as a kid and seeing the fresh, new snow covering everything in sight. I couldn’t wait to go outside and see what we could make with it. A notebook offers that same excitement, it’s like fresh snow, asking to be played with, to be made into something beautiful.

With a notebook and pen I can create feeling. I can draw even. I wonder how Shakespeare would have felt about writing in a Word doc.

Shakespeare Quote on Writing

  • Spell Check – The Good and The Bad

Speaking of Word docs, it’s really a love/hate relationship when it comes to writing, at least for me. On the one hand it’s a life-saver, and I mean that for real, yo. I am admittedly a not-so-great speller. What in the world would my writing look like without the trusty old spell check? (Thank you baby Jesus for spell check!) However, how annoying is it to try and type a bunch of slang and intentional bad grammar (in hopes of personalizing your content) only to have Word underline it and throw it in your face the whole time.  It’s like, I get it, “yo” isn’t a word. But even Google has a definition for it:

Yo Defined

Of course I prefer the Urban Dictionary for this type of thing. LittleLiblet gets me:

Urban Dictorary Yo Definition

You feel me, yo?

A notebook doesn’t blink, underline your words or try to change your context. That can be annoying and distracting when you’re trying to be creative. Besides, isn’t that what an editor is for?

  • Creativity, the Art 

Long form writing, or handwriting, seems to be a specific skill that can be tied to improved expression.  Some handwriting advocates are concerned about the disappearance of ornamental effects as we move towards typing.

Roland Jouvent, head of adult psychiatry at a Paris hospital says:

 “It’s not just a question of writing a letter: it also involves drawing, acquiring a sense of harmony and balance, with rounded forms. There is an element of dancing when we write, a melody in the message, which adds emotion to the text. After all that’s why emoticons were invented, to restore a little emotion to text messages.”

I tend to agree. Writing is an art, a way to connect with the reader and we can only add so many font styles, images and emojis to our digital documents to try and get the same result.

Font Joke

Closing Thought

Tomorrow I’m not going to show up at the office with a notebook and start writing down all of my communications (you should see how many emails I produce in a day!). But, I will make more of an effort to journal more, to write more handwritten letters and to spend more time drawing/painting with my kids. I will allow myself time to be creative outside of a screen. I will give my body, mind and soul the experience of creating with timeless artists’ tools, such as ink and paper. I will develop my own creative goals through artistic expression that only comes from working with something other than my keyboard.

I wish the same for you. Give it a go and let me know if something exciting comes out of this experiment.

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1 Comment

  1. Frank

    January 26, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article!
    It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

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