In defence of the written word

And by written, I mean actually written. With a pen, like in the old days.

Working in marketing and social media, much of my life revolves around the virtual world – emails, tweets, status updates – it’s all typey typey typey. This is fine, it’s my job, I understand it is the modern way, but at the same time I do have to acknowledge the fact that I am not quite of the internet generation.

For example, I would sill prefer to peer over my glasses at a copy of the Radio Times than to look on the television because, for some reason, in my hands the remote control turns into something unresponsive, and I take on the look of an elderly person trying to talk into the wrong end of a telephone.

I also like writing. Actual, physical writing. I know that between them my blackberry, laptop and netbook could provide me with all manner of whizzy time management tools, but I prefer to surround myself with physical list-making equipment that I trust not to delete itself. Here is a little corner of my office as evidence:

my desk

You see? I have everything I need – whiteboards, calendars, notebooks, nice pens, sparkling elderflower wine…

Call me old-fashioned, mock if you will, but as much as the mobile internet devices try to worm their way in, I will always be more excited by a large pack of whiteboard markers. Apple store or Staples? I know where I’d rather be




  1. 20 April, 2012 / 9:48 am

    All my lists are written with pen and paper, I carry a notebook to hour things down, shopping lists, phone numbers, dates for my diary. I’m told I’m old fashioned, out of date, despite owning a lap top, a galaxy tab and an I pod touch. Of course I’ve lost bits of paper, but I’ve been caught out more by battery and system failure.
    I’ve always loved writing letters by hand, especially with the older generation.since emigrating last year to south africa I’ve kept in touch online but nothing versus a hands written letter through the post. I also have numerous twitter penpals who write frequently.

  2. 20 April, 2012 / 10:12 am

    Sounds like me! I’m in my thirties and only came to the internet in my early twenties so am definitely not of the internet generation (I did my degrees without the aid of the internet or a even a laptop!! :-)) As I work freelance I have the general computer-type gadgets that one needs BUT I have handwritten lists everywhere- I can’t remember things unless I write them down – shopping lists, to do lists, people’s birthdays, etc.. (My handwriting is SHOCKING though- used to be good at handwriting at school way back when!) Incidentally, your desk looks so nice and tidy- mine is a bombsite and I can just about find the keyboard and mouse when I sit down to work in the mornings!

  3. ruthtruth
    20 April, 2012 / 11:03 am

    Couldn’t agree more – Surrounded by lists and calendars all the time! I also carry a notebook (but have to write “Put Notebook in Handbag” on the big list – otherwise I forget). I am older still so I do not consider myself fully ensconced in the computerised world but I have to take part because of my business. Am starting to see the other benefits having just started reading blogs etc (I know! – where have I been??). My children are going to experience the world in a completely different way than I have…quite a strange feeling to be caught in the middle of a cultural shift! My lad wrote a letter to his Dad on the way back from a day out recently, telling him what we had done, I thought this was incredibly sweet and I suggested putting the scrap of paper in an envelope and posting it – he looked at me as if I was mad …”Nah…I’ll just ring him and read it to him”…. Fair enough.

  4. 20 April, 2012 / 12:07 pm

    I have a callous on my writing finger from being a schoolgirl still. Typing isn’t so bad!

    • 20 April, 2012 / 6:08 pm

      Really!? I always used to get a dent on my middle finger, just to the left of my finger nail. Actually, looking at my finger now, it is still a bit dented… Now though I have hard bits on my wrist joints from leaning them on the laptop!

  5. 20 April, 2012 / 12:21 pm

    My dad wrote me a letter a while back. He talked to me in a way he would just never do face to face (sadly) about my Mum (she died) and the day I was born amongst other things. I found myself writing back and asking him things I’ve never dared to ask. It may be sad reflection of how our relationship was held together by my Mum, but I love my father dearly and vice versa, and the written word brought us closer in a time of real need. And now I’m crying…….!!!

    • 20 April, 2012 / 6:07 pm

      Gosh, sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry!

      I know totally what you mean though. Sometimes I write things down that I don’t feel brave enough to say outloud, and sometimes just the act of writing them helps to clarify my thoughts and give me the courage to say them face to face. (I’m not good at confrontation…).

      It’s lovely that you were able to ‘talk’ to your Dad in some way, even if it was in letter form. That must have been a really difficult and emotional thing for him to do, and clearly it was for you too – but so beneficial for you both. Exactly why we need pens…

  6. 20 April, 2012 / 2:43 pm

    The last couple of years I’ve taken to carrying around a notebook, pencil and little sharpener. I like writing.

    • 20 April, 2012 / 6:03 pm

      I love pencils too for writing. THere is something really special about a freshly sharpened pencil. It makes it feel like more of an art form, so much more creative feeling than a biro.

  7. 20 April, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    Oh yes pass the pens and pencils, love them and I am sure writing that first comes from a pen and then typed is so much better than just typed!!! Or maybe that is just me.

    • 21 April, 2012 / 8:26 pm

      There’s probably something in that, as it gives you the chance to edit doesn’t it? I’m normally too lazy, but writing stuff by hand first does force you to think about what you’ve written.

  8. 20 April, 2012 / 7:57 pm

    I really love stationary and my whiteboard. Office land is porn to me.

    • 21 April, 2012 / 8:27 pm

      My whiteboard is like a third child :-)

  9. honeybee35
    20 April, 2012 / 8:12 pm

    Handwriting was one of the few things I was good at as a little girl and I would pride myself on my ability to write using a range of nibs and ink – including blotting paper – biros, markers and pencil…Getting ‘lines’ as a punishment at secondary school never felt that bad to me either…And, I still love the smell of the ink from whiteboard markers!
    Come to think of it, I’d love a job where my physicial handwriting actually mattered…I might start to make some real money from a dying skill.

    • 21 April, 2012 / 8:32 pm

      I bet there are loads of jobs where you could show off your handwriting – maybe you could design personalised wedding stationery, or write signs, or design tattoos!

  10. 20 April, 2012 / 8:58 pm

    I really don’t think that we should even call it old fashioned. I’m sure there are studies about how the brain works and learns and that the physical act of copying things down helps memory, just like repeating someone’s name helps you to remember it. There’s a reason why when we send kids to pre-school, kindergarten and grade school there are brightly colored letters and numbers all over the room. I would bet that having desks with screens and nothing on the walls would stimulate learning less. I have a laptop and a smart phone, but I also have a paper calendar and a journal. When I was a student i used to go over my notes in colored pens, for me it helped organize my thoughts and helped with memory. I recently realized that I shouldn’t abandon what works for me, so although I use my phone calendar with alerts I also use my paper calendar and although I blog directly on WordPress I also keep a paper journal. Also, I find that with my children putting things in their phone calendars and iPods was not nearly as effective as having a whiteboard and a paper calendar hung in the common areas and their rooms. Again, think of a classroom. Sometimes we need visuals that do not require batteries or ac power. Sometimes we need it in our faces and not in our hands.

    • 21 April, 2012 / 8:30 pm

      I do that too – use the phone for reminders and keep a paper calendar as well. It’s a good example of exactly what you say – doing what works for you. We just need to take the bits from the old and the new, and fit them together in whatever way suits you.

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