Deb requested this post, so I shall write it! On the question of longhand versus typing, I personally type a lot more than I physically write for two reasons:
- My handwriting is hideous, and even I have a hard time reading it. People constantly ask me if I want to become a doctor. I would put an image of my handwriting on here, but I admit, I’m too embarrassed.
- I type a lot faster than I write, so typing is much more efficient.
But I also physically write in two circumstances:
- I carry a pen and some paper with me all the time so I can write or jot down ideas when I’m not in front of a computer. The strange part about this is that ideas have a tendency to arrive when you cannot write: when you’re driving, in the shower, or when you forgot your pen and paper at home.
- I physically write in my journal. In this case, my terrible handwriting is something of a “security feature,” so that nobody can read my journal. Sometimes, I can’t even read my journal… and that can be bad, especially when I’m trying to find something.
Word processing programs (even those as rudimentary as Microsoft’s Notepad) are also more efficient because they allow you to neatly edit and organize what you’ve written. You don’t have to look at scribbles, cross-outs, disordered margin notes, etc.
I use Microsoft Word for the simple fact that it’s there and it’s ubiquitous. If you don’t have Word or an equivalent, you can always download the free OpenOffice suite, which includes a program called Writer. It’s essentially the same thing as Microsoft Word, with comparable features, but I don’t think it looks quite as pretty, but it’s free, so I shouldn’t be complaining. Before Word, I used IBM’s Lotus Word Pro. And I loved Lotus Word Pro for some crazy reason. I’m not sure that it exists anymore, though. The last version I had of it was the 1997 one.
I don’t know what other kinds of word processors are out there. I think MacOS, Linux, and other operating systems might have their own word processors, and I can’t say how good those are because I’ve never tried them. When I find something that works for me, I don’t move away from it. I’m not really one to experiment with software.
There are also Web-based programs all over the Internet that allow you to compose documents and save them to an online server. I’ve heard good things about Google Docs, but I’ve never tried it. Blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger are good, too, and if you don’t want to share what you write, you can make the entries private. So search around and experiment, and you’ll eventually find the program with the right features for you. (Readers, do you have any good programs to recommend?)
Above all, the typing versus longhand question is a matter of personal preference. There’s no “right” choice. Do whatever you feel comfortable with, and experiment with different types of programs, writing instruments, notebooks, etc.