The always exciting high school activity… the essay, feared by many, loved by few and endured by all. In today’s educational society everyone will at some point have to write an essay, most likely many, and with a little luck some of those essays might even involve a topic that the writer is somewhat interested in. One thing that every essay writer has in common when they sit down to do the dirty work is whether or not to hand write their essay or type it on a computer. Now this decision may seem like a no brainer but like most things in life it’s not always good to jump to the most obvious conclusion.
For most, the hand writing option would be akin to using a push mower as opposed to a riding mower. The writer loses spell check, digital thesaurus, automatic formatting, and the ease of correcting mistakes automatically or at worst with the stroke of the backspace key. Also, with a digital copy of an assignment it is easy to backup work to an external hard drive or online cloud service avoiding the always hungry pet dog. Digital essays also make peer review an ease, allowing the writer to email his/her essay to friends as opposed to hand delivering. My personal preference is to type whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean that typing is the right fit for everyone, every time.
So why in the world would someone choose to suffer the hand cramps of writing out an essay by hand? Well, for some it may not be an option. The ease of copy and paste has created an epidemic of plagiarism and in an attempt to make it a little more inconvenient some teachers are requiring hand written essay. Obviously, this doesn’t stop plagiarism but rather just makes it a little more time consuming when you have to read from a screen and hand duplicate, rather than just copy and paste.
For some people it’s a creative thing. Many people just can’t compose their thoughts when working on a screen. I don’t know if it’s the texture of the paper, the feel of a hand conforming gel grip $8.00 pen, or the pleasing aroma of eraser fragments all over the place but some people just love to work with paper and pen/pencil. I can‘t poke too much fun at these people, I’m apparently in a vast minority of people that just can’t seem to concentrate on a book if it’s not in the good old fashioned paper format. So remember, if you ever find yourself staring at your laptop unable to come up with the first word, you might want to try switching it up for a change of things, it might just help get past your writer’s block.
Hand writing is the preferred medium of those who just refuse to learn how to type. Many people choose to hand write their essays because they can’t type or use a computer. If this is your reason for hand writing I would strongly encourage you to force yourself to type your essay. Few jobs and even fewer Universities don’t require basic computer skills and at least decent typing skills. Unless you’ve waited to the last minute to write your essay (in which case you don’t need to be wasting time reading this) then you should force yourself to type everything you can. Better to learn in high school than while writing a thesis or on the job in front of your new manager.
In the digital age I predict that most people will elect to type their essays, or pretty much anything of length, on a computer. There are just so many conveniences that come with a computer however, as I stated before that does not mean that typing is the only way to go. If you happen to be one of the nostalgic few who refuse to give up their pen and paper I would strongly recommend scanning or typing the finished product into a computer if simply for the ability to save and protect your intellectual investment of time. Good luck.