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 Both models clearly work, though James' obviously isn't a practical option for most unpublished writers.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.

      Reminds me of:

    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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