Ruth Rendell Argues For Writing On Your PC

Ruth Rendell Argues For Writing On Your PC
RuthRendellIt is sometimes suggested that writing by hand offers a creative experience unmatched by composing on computer, but that’s not an argument you’ll find Ruth Rendell mounting. Defying stereotypes about computer usage, the 79 year-old author of more than 60 titles has been using a PC for 23 years.

In a talk at the Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, Rendell explained how she had gradually shifted from writing by hand — her practice since her first published novel in 1964 — to embrace the word processor:

I used to write by hand and put it on the computer, but I don’t now because I think it makes no difference.

Rendell emphasised that using the PC was a personal choice, a point underscored by her co-presenter P.D. James, who writes her novels by hand and then dictates the contents to a secretary before making corrections. Both models clearly work, though James’ obviously isn’t a practical option for most unpublished writers.

Does creative writing come more easily to you in front of a keyboard, or would you still prefer a pen? Outline your ideas in the comments.


  • I do both. Firstly, when I’m coming up with ideas or brainstorming things, I’ll use a notebook. I have a nice Moleskine one that isn’t any further than a metre from my body at any time, bar showering. I find if you can scribble lines, doodles and so on a piece of paper, it’s much better than a word processor. I also write in pen, so there’s no temptation to go back and fix spelling forever.

    When I sit down to write, I write on a computer. It would be a complete waste of time to do it all twice. I’ve done the thinking, now I just have to put it down.

    When I’m programming, I use the computer (duh), but I also keep a pad of paper between the keyboard and myself. Drawing links between data structures is much better than trying to remember it all, especially when it’s not my program.

  • I haven’t really used a pen since high school. Not even for uni.

    Wow. Now that I think about it, the only time I pick up a pen is to sign for stuff, and even then, it’s those electronic pens made for screens.

    It’s a good thing though. My handwriting is really messy, and it just seems to get worse as I get older.

  • I couldn’t imagine losing the art of handwriting. I work most of the time on a PC/laptop but am always jotting down notes on paper. I take notes in meetings on paper then translate to electronic minutes. Not that I’m an author but Jack’s approach is the one I would take – handwriting for freeform ideas and brainstorming and PC for the drafts.

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